Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God (3)
Today we continue to fellowship about the issue of notions. We’ve previously fellowshiped this issue twice, and today we will fellowship it once more to conclude. Regarding what was fellowshiped before, you should communicate among yourselves afterward, and then ponder and experience these things bit by bit. These topics can’t be fully comprehended in just a day or two; one can only gradually come to understand them by experiencing and feeling them out in life. What you can now bring forth based on memory alone is merely rote learning. Eating and drinking God’s words requires experience; only after undergoing real-life experience for some time can one have genuine understanding and appreciation. People’s notions mainly consist of their notions about God and God’s work. These two types of notions most affect people’s pursuit, the way they view matters, their understanding of and attitude toward God, and even more so the path they walk in believing in God, as well as the direction and objectives they choose for their lives. From our previous two fellowships, can you now define exactly what is meant by notions? Imaginings about belief in God are a type of notion. These imaginings are primarily manifested in some superficial behaviors in people’s speech and conduct, as well as details of their daily life, such as eating, clothing, housing, and transport. This is the most elementary level. Going a step further, there are some imaginings about one’s pursuit in believing in God and the path one walks in doing so, as well as some of people’s demands, imaginings, and misunderstandings involving God’s work. What do these misunderstandings include? Why are they called misunderstandings? When we say misunderstanding, it’s definitely not a proper thought. Rather, it is something that does not coincide with facts, is inconsistent with the truth, and incompatible with and contrary to God’s work and God’s disposition; or something of human will conceived out of people’s notions, imaginings, and knowledge, having nothing whatsoever to do with God Himself or God’s work. When these kinds of notions, imaginings, misunderstandings, and demands arise, it means that people’s notions about God and God’s work have reached their peak. What becomes of the relationship between people and God at this point? (A barrier forms between them.) There is a barrier between people and God; is this a serious issue? (Yes.) When such a barrier is formed, it means people’s notions and imaginings are very severe. When a barrier forms between people and God, it means they are dissatisfied with some of the things God has done, they no longer want to confide in God, treat God as God, or submit to God. They begin to question God’s righteousness and disposition. What manifestations immediately follow this? (Resistance.) If people do not seek the truth, this misunderstanding not only creates a barrier in their hearts but also immediately leads to resistance—resistance to the truth, to God’s words, and to God’s sovereignty. They become dissatisfied with what God has done, saying, “What You’re doing is inappropriate; I neither approve nor agree with it!” The implicit message is, “I can’t submit; this is my choice. I want to voice a dissenting view, I want to voice an opinion that is different from God’s words, from the truth, and from God’s demands.” What kind of behavior is this? (They are clamoring.) Following resistance, clamor and opposition arise; this is an escalation. When one’s corrupt disposition takes charge, a single notion can create a barrier and misunderstandings between them and God. If this is not resolved promptly through seeking the truth, the barrier grows larger, becoming a thick wall. You no longer see God or His true existence, let alone His divine essence. You start to doubt whether the incarnated God is really God, you lose interest in eating and drinking the word of God, and you no longer want to pray to God. In this way, your relationship with God becomes increasingly distant. Why can people exhibit such behaviors? Because they feel that what God has done has hurt their hearts, harmed their dignity, and humiliated their personhood. Is this really the case? (No.) What’s actually going on then? (It’s because people’s desires have not been satisfied, and the situation they’ve encountered has touched upon their own interests.) It is because people have a corrupt disposition; when their extravagant desires are not instantly met, they become resistant to God and extremely dissatisfied that He has worked in a way that does not align with human notions. They do not admit, nor do they accept, that what God is doing is the truth, is God’s love, and is for the purpose of saving people. They develop notions and misunderstandings about what God has done, which means their corrupt disposition is in control. After these barriers arise, what are the manifestations of all kinds of corrupt dispositions that people reveal when they live by notions? They do not seek, wait, or submit, much less do they fear God or repent. They first scrutinize and judge, and then they condemn, and finally comes the resistance. Aren’t these behaviors the exact opposite of positive manifestations like seeking, waiting, submitting, accepting, and repenting? (Yes.) Then these behaviors are all obverse things. They are the revelation of a corrupt disposition; it is their corrupt disposition that is controlling their actions and thoughts, as well as their attitude, intentions, and views toward judging people, matters, and things. When people engage in scrutinizing, analyzing, judging, condemning, and becoming resistant, what is the next step they take? (Opposition.) Then comes opposition. What are some manifestations of opposition? (Passivity, giving up one’s duties.) Passivity is one; they passively slacken at work, and give up their duties. What else? (Spreading notions.) (Making judgments.) Making judgments, spreading notions, these are all some manifestations of clamoring against and opposing God. What else? (They may betray God, and betray the true way.) That’s the most serious of all; when someone reaches this point, their devilish nature surfaces completely, utterly denying and betraying God, and at any moment they could turn away from God.
Just now, what were the various manifestations of behaviors that clamor against and oppose God? (Passively slackening at work, giving up one’s duties.) (Judging God.) Judging God and His work. (Then comes spreading notions, and finally, betraying God.) Let’s go into more detail. Is there any complaining involved in spreading notions? (Yes.) Sometimes spreading notions is mixed with complaining, stuff like, “What God does is not righteous,” “I believe in God, not in people,” and “I believe that God is righteous.” These words carry undertones of complaint. Passive slackening, spreading notions, and judging God are all rather serious behaviors, but the most serious is betrayal. These four are quite obvious, quite serious, and are of the nature that directly resists God. What are some specific manifestations within these behaviors that you can think of, have seen, or have even done yourselves? (There’s also incitement; to vent dissatisfaction with God, some incite even more people to oppose Him.) This is a manifestation of spreading notions. Are there those who outwardly appear obedient, but during prayers say, “Let God expose it; what I am doing is right, all will be revealed in time; I know God is righteous”? These words may sound correct, even confidently justified, but they hide insubordination and dissatisfaction toward God. This is mental opposition, it is passive slackening and passive opposition. Are there other aspects? (In the case of passive slackening, there is also abandoning oneself to despair and throwing up their hands in frustration, believing that this is just how they are, that this is just their nature; they think no one can save them, so if God wants to destroy them, then so be it.) This is a form of silent opposition; their actual state is passive, thinking that God’s actions are incomprehensible and that people cannot truly grasp them, so whatever God wants to do, let Him do it. On the surface, it seems like they have submitted to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, but in actuality, deep down in their hearts, they profoundly resist God’s arrangements, and are especially dissatisfied and insubordinate. They have already acknowledged that this is God’s doing and don’t make any further demands; why then say that this is an oppositional sentiment? Why characterize it this way? In fact, in their consciousness, they don’t want to condemn this matter either, they don’t want to make a determination that says, “What God has done is wrong; I do not accept it. I can submit to other things God has done, but not this. In any case, I will be passive and slacken at my work because of this.” In their subconscious, their state is not like this, they don’t have this awareness; in their heart, they are just somewhat defiant, dissatisfied, or indignant. Some people might even condemn God’s actions as wrong, but from the depths of their hearts, in terms of their subjective desires, they do not actually want to condemn God in their consciousness, since, after all, what they believe in is God. So why say that this behavior is oppositional, that it is passive slackening, and that it carries elements of passivity? Passivity itself is a form of resistance and opposition, and it has several manifestations. Firstly, when people develop states like giving up in despair and passively slackening, can they be aware in their hearts that these states are wrong? (Yes.) Everyone can be aware of this, except those who have believed for only two or three years and rarely hear sermons; they don’t understand these matters. But as long as one has believed in God for at least three years, frequently hears sermons, and understands the truth, they can have this awareness. When people realize that such states are wrong, what should they do to avoid being oppositional? First, they must seek. Seek what? Seek why God has orchestrated things this way, why such situations have befallen them, what God’s intentions are, and what they should do. These are positive, these are the manifestations people should have. What else? (Accept, submit, and let go of one’s own ideas.) Is it easy to let go of your own ideas? (No.) If you think you’re right, you won’t be able to let go of them. To reach the point of letting go, there are steps involved. So what practices are most appropriate and suitable for this? (Prayer.) If your prayer consists of only a few hollow sentences, and you’re just going through the motions, the problem won’t be solved. You pray, “Oh God, I wish to obey; please arrange and orchestrate my circumstances such that I can obey. If I still cannot obey then, then correct me.” Does uttering a few empty sentences like this make your wrong state change? It doesn’t change it at all. You need a method of practice to effect a turnaround. So how can you practice to turn things around? (One should actively seek God’s intentions, internally admit that God is right and they are wrong, and be able to deny themselves.) These are two methods of practice: actively seeking God’s intentions, and internally admitting God is right and oneself is wrong. Both of these methods are quite good, they both say the right things, but one is most practical. Which one is practical? Which is empty talk? (Actively seeking God’s intentions is practical.) Often, God will not directly tell you His intentions. Furthermore, He will not suddenly shine a light of understanding on you. Nor will He lead you to precisely eat and drink the relevant words of God that you should understand. These methods are all too unrealistic for people. So, can this approach of actively seeking God’s intentions be effective for you? An effective method is the best method; it is the most realistic and practical method. An ineffective method, no matter how good it sounds, is theoretical and only stays at the level of words and does not yield results. So which one is practical? (The second one, admitting that God is the truth and oneself is wrong.) Right, admitting your mistakes—this is having reason. Some people say they don’t realize they are wrong. In this case, you should be reasonable and able to let go of and deny yourself. Some people say, “I used to think I was right, and I still think so now. Moreover, many people approve of and agree with me, and I don’t feel any reproach in my heart. Besides, my intention is right, so how can I be wrong?” There are several reasons preventing you from letting go of and denying yourself. What should you do in this case? Regardless of whatever reasons you have for thinking you are right, if this “right” conflicts with God and goes against the truth, then you are simply wrong. No matter how submissive your attitude is, regardless of how you pray to God in your heart, or even if you verbally admit you are wrong but deep down still struggle against God and live in a state of passivity, the essence of this is still opposing God. This proves you still haven’t realized that you are wrong; you do not accept the fact that you are wrong. When people develop misunderstandings and notions about God, they first must acknowledge that God is the truth and that people do not have the truth, and it is certainly they who are mistaken. Is this a kind of formality? (No.) If you only adopt this practice as a formality, superficially, then can you come to know your own mistakes? Never. Coming to know yourself requires several steps. First, you must determine whether your actions are in line with the truth and with principles. Do not look at your intents at first; there are times when your intents are correct but the principles you practice are wrong. Does this kind of situation occur often? (Yes.) Why do I say that your principles of practice are wrong? You may have sought, but perhaps you have no understanding at all of what principles are; perhaps you have not sought at all, and have based your actions solely on your good intentions and enthusiasm, and on your imaginings and experience, and as a result, you have made a mistake. Can you envision that? You cannot anticipate it, and you’ve made a mistake—and have you not then been exposed? If you keep contending with God after being exposed, where does the error in this lie? (It lies in not acknowledging that God is right, and insisting that I am right.) That’s how you erred. Your greatest mistake was not that you did something wrong and violated the principles, thereby causing a loss or other consequences, but that, having done something wrong, you yet persist in your own reasoning, unable to admit your error; you still oppose God based on your notions and imaginings, denying His work and the truths He expressed—this was your greatest and most serious mistake. Why is it said that such a state in a person is one of opposition to God? (Because they don’t acknowledge that what they are doing is wrong.) Whether or not people recognize that everything God does and His sovereignty are right, and what their significance is, if they cannot first recognize that they themselves are wrong, then their state is one of opposition to God. What is to be done to rectify this state? First, one must deny oneself. What we just said about needing to first seek God’s intentions is not so practical for people. Some say, “If it isn’t so practical, then does that mean seeking isn’t necessary? Some things that can be sought and understood don’t need to be sought—I can just skip that step.” Will this do? (No.) Is one who acts in this manner not beyond saving? Such people are really skewed and erroneous in their comprehension. Seeking God’s will is a bit distant and cannot be achieved immediately; for a shortcut, it’s more realistic to first let go of oneself, knowing that one’s actions are wrong and not in line with the truth, and then seek the truth principles. These are the steps. They may seem simple, yet putting them into practice presents many difficulties, for humans have corrupt dispositions as well as all manner of imaginings, all manner of demands, and they have desires as well, all of which interfere with people denying themselves and letting go of themselves. These are not easy things to do. We won’t delve deeper into this topic; let’s continue discussing the issue of notions, which we visited in our last two fellowships.
Just now, the main focus of our fellowship was how notions can lead to misunderstandings about God, which in turn form a barrier between people and God, and this barrier leads them to develop resistance to God. What is the nature of this resistance? (Opposition.) It is opposition, rebelliousness. Therefore, when people develop opposition toward God and clamor against Him, this is not something that happens overnight; it has roots. It’s like when a person suddenly discovers they’ve become sick, and that the illness is very serious; they wonder how the condition progressed so quickly. In actuality, the illness was present in the body for a long time and already had roots—it was not contracted on the day it became apparent; rather, that was only the day when they discovered it. What do I mean by saying this? Is the ability to rebel against God, to oppose Him, to clamor against Him something everyone can predict when they first start believing in God? Absolutely not. Is this the initial intention in believing in God of every person who eventually clamors against and opposes Him? Has anyone ever said, “I don’t believe in God for blessings; I just want to clamor against God and be oppositional after seeing Him, so that then I’ll become famous and make a big name for myself, and my life will have been worthwhile”? Has anyone ever had such plans? (No.) No one has ever planned this way, not even the most foolish, stupid, or wicked person. People all want to believe in God sincerely, to be good, to listen to God’s words and do whatever God asks of them. Although they cannot achieve absolute obedience to God, they can at least meet God’s minimum requirements and satisfy God to the best of their ability. What a good wish that is—how did it end up with them clamoring against and opposing God? People themselves feel unwilling and don’t know how this came about. When it comes to clamoring against and opposing God, they feel bad and upset inside, thinking, “How could people do this? Even if others act this way, I shouldn’t have acted this way!” It’s just like Peter said: “Though all men shall be offended because of You, yet will I never be offended” (Matthew 26:33). The words Peter spoke came from his heart, but his behavior could not live up to his wishes and aspirations. Human weakness is something people themselves cannot anticipate. When some situation actually befalls them, their corruption is exposed. One’s nature essence and corrupt disposition can control and dictate their thoughts and behavior. With a corrupt disposition, various notions can arise, along with different desires and demands, leading to all kinds of rebellious behavior. This directly impacts one’s relationship with God and directly influences one’s life entry and dispositional transformation. These are not people’s intentions when they first set out to believe in God, nor are they what people are willing and hoping to do in their hearts. Such consequences are attributed to people’s notions about God. If these notions are not resolved, one’s prospects, fate, and destination may all become problematic.
To resolve one’s misunderstandings about God, one must resolve their notions about God, about God’s work, about the essence of God, and about the disposition of God. To resolve these notions, one must first understand, know, and recognize them. So what exactly are these notions? This brings us back to the main topic. We must start with some practical examples to address these notions and manifestations of people, making God’s will apparent from these instances, allowing people to see, deep within God’s heart, what His disposition and essence are and how He treats people, as well as how people imagine He should treat them, and allowing them to distinguish, clarify, and compare these latter two perspectives, which can lead to an understanding and acceptance of the way God treats and rules over people, and an understanding and acceptance of God’s essence and disposition. Once people have a clear understanding of the way God rules people and of His work, they will no longer conceive notions about God. The barrier between God and them will also disappear, and oppositional or clamoring states directed at God will no longer arise in their hearts. These issues of rebelliousness and resistance against God can be directly resolved through reading God’s words and fellowshiping the truth. No matter which aspect of notions is being addressed, it must begin with reading God’s words and fellowshiping the truth. Everything must be connected with the truth, everything involves the truth. So what are these notions that people have? Let us start by discussing God’s work, using specific examples to make clear the principles behind God’s work, and the principles and methods by which God treats and rules people. An example might touch on the method of God’s work; it may also touch on the method by which God classifies an individual and His determination of their outcome; or it may touch upon God’s disposition and essence. To clarify these points, if we were to speak in an empty way about what God is like, what God has done and how He’s treated people over His six thousand years of work—do you think that would be appropriate? Could you easily receive that? Or if we talked about how, for instance, God has been working for six thousand years, and in the second phase of His work, He operated in Judea; and we discussed how God treated the Jewish people then, and how we can observe God’s disposition from this—would that make it easy to understand? (No.) For instance, if we talked about how God rules this world: how He treats people of various ethnicities, what God thinks, how He demarcates their territories, and why He divides them in different locations—in particular, why some good people are located in less-than-ideal places, while some evil people are in much better places, and what principles God employs in allocating things this way, and saw God’s methods for ruling humankind from this topic—would that make it easy to understand? (No.) Aren’t these topics quite distant from people’s dispositional transformations and life entry in daily life? Aren’t they quite abstract? (Yes.) Why do we say they are distant and abstract? Because in real life, only understanding truths related to visions, such as the details of how God rules and guides humankind, seems a bit far removed from the problems we face in our day-to-day lives, and not particularly relevant. To address real-world problems, we must start from examples that you can hear, see, and feel in your lives, and then broaden your insight from there. Regardless of what stories I tell, or which people and events these stories involve—even if they may relate to things you have done in the past—the ultimate effect these stories have is to help you understand truths related to the topic being discussed today. Every story told serves a purpose, and is related to the value it’s meant to convey and the truth it expresses.
Let us begin our story. This is Case One. A long time ago, a church sent over a bottle of cough syrup, explaining: “God always talks to us and preaches, and sometimes coughs when speaking too much. To make God’s preaching smoother and to reduce coughing, we’re sending some cough syrup.” When the bottle arrived, a man saw it and said: “This is said to be cough syrup, but who knows what it really treats. We can’t just give it to God to drink—it might be harmful. This is medicine; every medicine has some toxins. There could be side effects for drinking it!” Those who heard him thought, “He’s being quite considerate. Well, we can’t give it to God then.” At the time, I didn’t need it, so I thought to keep it for later, and the matter was left at that. But does the story end here? No, the story of this medicine began that day. One day, someone discovered that this same man had been drinking the cough syrup himself, and by the time he was discovered, only half of it remained. What happened next can be easily guessed; he finished it all. That’s the story itself. Ponder what this has to do with the notions that we’re discussing today. First of all, tell Me: Does the story shock you, trigger you? (Yes.) What are your thoughts after hearing it? What triggered you? Generally, those who are triggered will think, “Oh my, this was something offered to God; how could someone drink it?” That’s the first thing that triggers them. The second thing is, “He kept drinking it. I can’t believe he drank it all!” Besides being triggered, what else can you think of? Regarding what this person did—all of these behaviors of his; that is, every single event in this entire story—do you consider what God’s reaction might be? What would God do? What should God do? How should God treat such a person? And isn’t this where human notions start to arise? Let’s put aside the content of what triggered you, and talk about whether this experience of being triggered itself could be of any benefit. In being triggered, people merely feel a certain discomfort in their conscience, but can’t speak clearly about the event in the story. Next, there may arise condemnation and reproach directed at the individual in the story which are rooted in ethics, morals, theological theories, or words and doctrines, but these things are not the truth. If we want to get at the truth, it’s the human notions formed regarding the event itself, or the demands regarding what God should do—these are the issues that need resolving. In this story, the notions and thoughts people have about what God should do in such a situation are crucial. Don’t just focus on your emotional reaction; being triggered by something can’t resolve your rebelliousness. If one day you find something in God’s offerings that you particularly like or need, and you’re very tempted, you could take it for yourself too; in that case you wouldn’t feel triggered at all. Your being triggered now is merely a function of conscience, a result of the moral standards of humanity; it is not a function of the truth. When you can resolve the notions that arise from this situation, you will understand the truth in this situation. You will have resolved any notions and misunderstandings you have toward God in such matters, and in these kinds of situations, you will understand the truth and gain something. So now, think about what kinds of notions people might develop in this situation. Which of these notions might lead you to misunderstand God, to form a barrier between you and Him, or even to oppose Him? This is what we should be fellowshiping. Tell Me, when this event took place, did this man feel any reproach in his conscience? (No.) How can you tell he felt no reproach? (He drank all of the cough syrup.) This is quite easy to analyze, isn’t it? From the first sip to the last, he showed no restraint and didn’t stop. If he had taken a taste and then stopped, that would have counted as feeling self-reproach, because he would have stopped, restrained himself and not continued. But this man didn’t do that; he drank the whole bottle from beginning to end. If there was more, he would have continued drinking. This shows that he felt no reproach whatsoever in his conscience; this is looking at it from a human perspective. Now, how does God view this matter? This is what you should understand. From how God treats this situation, how He evaluates and defines it, you can see God’s disposition, God’s essence, and also discern the principles and methods by which God operates. At the same time, it might reveal some human notions, causing people to say, “So this is God’s attitude toward people; this is how God handles people. I didn’t think this way before.” The fact that you didn’t think this way reveals the barrier between you and God, that you can develop misunderstandings about God, and that you have notions about the way God works and operates in this regard. So, how did God handle it when faced with this situation? The man said, “This is medicine; all medicine has some toxicity. We can’t let God drink it; there might be side effects.” What was the intention, the purpose behind his words? Were these truthful or false words? They were not truthful; they were deceitful, false, and disingenuous. His subsequent actions and what he revealed made it clear what was going on in his heart. Did God do anything about his false words and actions? (No.) How do we know that God didn’t do anything? When he spoke those words, he was not sincere; he was being false. God was just watching from the sidelines, neither performing the positive work of guidance nor the negative work of reproach. Sometimes, people feel reproach in their conscience—that is God at work. Did this man feel reproach at the time? (No.) Not only did he not feel reproached, but he also spoke in a high-sounding manner. God did not reproach him; He was simply watching. Why would God watch? Was He watching to see how the facts would unfold? (No.) Not necessarily. Right when a person faces a situation, before making a choice about what to do or forming any facts, does God understand that person? (Yes.) God understands not just their surface but the inner heart—whether their heart is good or wicked, genuine or false, what their true attitude toward God is, whether they have God in their heart, whether they have genuine faith—God has already known these things; He has conclusive evidence, and is ever observing. What did God do after this man said this? First, God did not reproach him; second, God did not enlighten him or make him aware that this was an offering, that humans should not carelessly touch it. Does God need to explicitly tell people to have this awareness? (No.) This awareness should be present in normal humanity. Some may say, “Some people just don’t know. You wouldn’t tell them? Won’t they know if You just tell them? Not knowing exempts one from sin—right now, they don’t know; if they knew, they wouldn’t have made this mistake, right? Wouldn’t this be protecting them?” Did God act this way? (No.) Why didn’t God act this way? On one hand, that man should have known the concept that “this is an offering to God, humans cannot touch it.” On the other, if he didn’t know, why didn’t God tell him? Why didn’t God make him aware to prevent him from doing such a thing and facing such consequences? Wouldn’t telling him better reveal God’s sincerity in saving people? Wouldn’t it better reveal God’s love? So why didn’t God do this? (God wanted to expose him.) Yes, God wanted to expose him. When you are faced with situations, it is not by accident that you are faced with them. A certain situation could mean your salvation, or it could mean your destruction. During these times, God is watching, remaining silent, not orchestrating any circumstances to prompt you, nor enlightening you with words like, “You mustn’t do this; the consequences would be unimaginable,” or “Doing it this way lacks reason and humanity.” People have no such awareness. The lack of such awareness is, in one sense, because God didn’t give them any prompting at that moment—God didn’t act. In another sense, if a person does have conscience and possesses some measure of humanity, would God then act upon such a foundation? (Yes.) That’s right. God would bestow such grace upon them. But why did God ignore this particular situation? One reason is that this man lacked conscience and reason, had no dignity, no integrity, and no normal humanity. He did not pursue these things; he did not have God in his heart and was not a true believer in God. So, God wanted to expose him through this situation. Sometimes God exposing someone is a form of salvation, and sometimes it is not—God intentionally acts this way. If you are someone with conscience and reason, God’s exposing you serves as a trial and a form of salvation. But if you lack conscience and reason, God’s exposing you will mean being cast out and destroyed. So, looking at it now, what did it mean for God to expose this man? It meant being cast out; it was not a blessing but a curse. Some people say: “He made such a big mistake, and it’s quite shameful. From when he started secretly drinking the cough syrup, couldn’t God have arranged some circumstances to get him to stop so that he wouldn’t make this mistake and therefore wouldn’t need to be cast out?” Is this what God did? (No.) How did God act? (He let the situation take its own course.) God let things take their own course—this is one of His principles. Once he opened the bottle of cough syrup, was there any difference in nature between the first sip he took and the last sip? (No.) Why was there no difference? (He is just that type of person in essence.) This situation thoroughly exposed his humanity, his pursuit, and his faith.
In the Old Testament age, Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of red stew. He was unaware of what was important and valuable: “What’s the big deal about a birthright? If I trade it, it won’t make a difference; I’ll still be alive, won’t I?” This is what he thought in his heart. It might seem that his approach to the problem was rather realistic, but what he lost was God’s blessing, and the consequences of that are unimaginable. Now, in the church, there are many people who do not pursue the truth. They do not take God’s promises and God’s blessings seriously. Is this not the same in nature as forfeiting one’s birthright? Is it not even more serious? Because God’s salvation of people is a one-time opportunity; if someone misses this opportunity, it is all over. There was even one person who was ultimately cast out just for the sake of a bottle of cough syrup, something he traded for the outcome of being destroyed; this is simply unfathomable! Actually, though, there isn’t anything unfathomable about it. Why do I say that? This event might seem like a minor thing. If such an event occurred among people, it wouldn’t be considered much. Like committing a crime, such as stealing or causing injury to others, at most you’d be punished after death and then be reborn as a human through several cycles of reincarnation. It wouldn’t matter much. But is the situation I’m talking about now as simple as this? (No.) Why do we say it isn’t simple? Why is this situation worth discussing? Let’s start with this bottle of cough syrup. Actually, this bottle of cough syrup was not something of great value, but once it was offered up to God, its essence changed; it became an offering. Some people say, “Offerings are consecrated; offerings do not belong to people; people should not touch offerings.” Saying this is also correct. What is an offering? An offering is something a person devotes to God; no matter what it is, such things are all referred to as offerings. Since they belong to God, they no longer belong to man. Whatever is devoted to God—be it money or material things, and whatever its value—belongs entirely to God, and is not at man’s disposal, nor is it his to use. How might God’s offerings be conceptualized? They belong to God, only He may dispose of them, and, prior to obtaining His approval, none may touch those things or have designs on them. There are those who say, “If God isn’t using something, why aren’t we allowed to use it? If it were to go bad after a while, wouldn’t that be a shame?” No, not even then; this is a principle. Offerings are things that belong to God, not to man; big or small, and whether or not they are valuable, once man has devoted them to God, their essence has changed, regardless of whether God wants them. Once a thing has become an offering, it is among the possessions of the Creator and at His disposal. What does the way one treats offerings involve? It involves one’s attitude toward God. If a person’s attitude toward God is one of impertinence and disdain, and of insouciance, then that person’s attitude toward all the things God owns will certainly be likewise. There are some who say, “Some offerings have no one looking after them. Doesn’t that mean they belong to whoever is in possession of them? Whether or not anyone knows it, it’s ‘finders, keepers’; whoever gets his hands on those things is their owner.” What do you think of that view? Quite clearly, it is incorrect. What is God’s attitude toward offerings? No matter what is offered to God, and whether or not He accepts it, once something has been designated as an offering, any person with further designs on it may wind up “stepping on a landmine.” What does this mean? (It means offending God’s disposition.) That’s right. You all know this concept, but why don’t you recognize the essence of this matter? So, what does this matter tell people? It tells them that God’s disposition brooks no offenses by humans, and that they are not to fiddle with His things. God’s offerings, for instance—if a person were to take them as their own, or to waste and squander them, then they would be liable to offend God’s disposition and be punished. God’s fury has its principles; it is not as people imagine it, with God lashing out at anyone who makes a mistake. Rather, God’s fury is triggered when someone offends God in crucial, important matters. Especially when it comes to treating God’s incarnation and God’s offerings, people must demonstrate caution and have a God-fearing heart; only in this way can they be sure not to offend God’s disposition.
Some people have faith in their belief in God and are able to expend themselves and pay the price, performing well in all aspects except for one. Seeing the abundant resources in God’s house, and knowing that God’s chosen people offer not just money but also food, clothing, and various medicines, among other things, such a person thinks, “God’s chosen people offer so many things to God, and God alone can’t use all of this. Although some are needed for spreading the gospel, it still won’t all be used. How should these items be handled? Perhaps the leaders and workers ought to share in some of it?” He becomes anxious and agitated about this issue, feeling a “burden” inside, and begins to ponder, “Now that I am in charge of these items, I should use some. Otherwise, won’t all these offerings go to waste when the world is obliterated? Distributing them to leaders and workers is fair. Everyone in God’s house is equal; since we have dedicated ourselves to God, then God’s things are also ours, and ours are God’s. It’s not a big deal if I enjoy some of God’s offerings; it’s part of God’s blessing anyway. I might as well just go ahead and use some.” With such thoughts, he becomes tempted. His desires inflate bit by bit and he begins to covet the offerings, starting to take items without feeling any reproach in his heart. He thinks no one will know, and comforts himself by saying, “I’ve expended myself for God; enjoying some offerings isn’t a big deal. Even if God knows, He will forgive me. I’ll just enjoy some now.” As a result, he starts to steal the offerings, offending God’s disposition. On the surface, he finds many excuses for himself, such as, “These things will go bad after a while if they’re not consumed! God alone can’t use all of these, and if they were distributed evenly, there would be too many people and not enough to go around. Why don’t I manage it? Moreover, what if all this money can’t be spent by the end of the world? We should each take on a share, which also reflects God’s love and grace! Although God hasn’t stated this, and there’s no such principle, why not be proactive? This is acting according to principles!” He concocts many high-sounding reasons and then starts taking action. But once he starts, things get out of hand, and there is less and less reproach in his heart. He may even feel that it’s justified, thinking, “If God doesn’t need it, I should use it. This is not a real problem.” This is where things go wrong. What do you think, is this a big deal or not? Is it serious? (Yes.) Why do we say it’s serious? Is this issue worth fellowshiping? (Yes.) What makes it worth fellowshiping? (It involves God’s disposition and also concerns man’s end and destination.) The issue is significant, its nature severe. Now, what is it that I should warn you about? Never entertain the idea of taking offerings. Some people say, “That’s not right; offerings made by brothers and sisters are meant for God’s house, for the church. This makes them everyone’s communal property.” Is this statement correct? How does such a statement come about? Out of man’s greed, a theory like this is concocted. What else does this issue involve? There’s something we haven’t yet touched on—what is it? Some think, “God’s house is a big family. To reflect a good family, there should be love and tolerance; everyone should share food, drink, and resources, and all of these things should be distributed equally. For instance, everyone should have clothing, and it should be distributed and enjoyed equally. God does not show favoritism; if someone can’t even afford socks and God has some extra pairs, He should offer them relief. Furthermore, those offerings of God’s come from the brothers and sisters; God already has so much, shouldn’t some be distributed to the poor? Wouldn’t this reflect God’s love?” Do people think like this? Are these not human notions? People forcefully claim God’s property while euphemistically labeling it as God’s grace, God’s blessings, and God’s great love. They always want to evenly divide things with God, wanting to split everything equally, always pushing for egalitarianism. They think this is a symbol of universal unity, of human harmony, and a fulfilling existence, and consider this a state of affairs that ought to be manifested. Are these not human notions? Especially in God’s house, they think nobody should go hungry. If someone is hungry, God should use His offerings for relief; God should not ignore the matter. Isn’t this “should” that people believe a type of notion? Isn’t it a human demand on God? Some people, after believing in God, say, “I’ve believed in God for so many years and have gained nothing; my family is still in poverty. This shouldn’t happen; God should be kind to me, should bless me so that I can better glorify God.” Because your family is poor, you don’t pursue the truth; you hope to change your impoverished conditions through belief in God, and use glorifying God as an excuse to bargain with Him. These are human notions and imaginings; they are man’s extravagant desires. Is believing in God with such motives not a form of bargaining with God? Do those who bargain with God have conscience and reason? Are they people who submit to God? Absolutely not. These people lack conscience and reason, don’t accept the truth, are despised by God, and are unreasonable people who cannot attain God’s salvation.
Some people think, “When humans have some improper thoughts or actions that violate God’s administrative decrees and offend God’s disposition, God should intervene to stop them. This is God’s salvation, this is God’s love.” Is this not people’s notions and imaginings? Is this how God works to save people? God saves people by expressing the truth. Whether one can be saved depends on whether they can accept the truth. Aside from this, there is one thing that God considers even more important, and that is people’s conscience and humanity. If, within your humanity, there is no conscience, no integrity, and no reason—that is, when something befalls you, your conscience and rationality cannot function normally, cannot restrain and regulate your actions, cannot correct your intentions and views—then God will definitely do nothing. For God to change you, He first allows your conscience and rationality to function. When your conscience feels reproach, you will ponder, “What I am doing is wrong; how would God view me?” and this will lead you to further seeking and proactive, positive entry. However, if one lacks even this initial step, does not possess conscience, and there is fundamentally no reproach in their heart, then what will God do when they are faced with something? God will do nothing. So, what is the foundation upon which all these words God speaks, and all the demands and truths that God teaches people, are based? They are based on the premise that people have conscience and rationality. As for the man mentioned earlier, if he had had conscience and possessed a certain level of rationality, what actions would he have taken after seeing that bottle of cough syrup? What behaviors would he have exhibited? When he had this thought: “This was given to God, so it should be pretty good; instead of letting God drink it, why don’t I drink it?” what would he have done then if he had conscience? Would he have opened the bottle and taken the first sip? (No.) How would this “no” have come about? (From having a sense of conscience.) Controlled by his conscience, it would come into play, and there would have been no next step to this matter; he would not have taken that first sip. The outcome of the situation would be completely reversed, and the ending would be entirely different. On the contrary, however, he did not have conscience or rationality—he lacked them absolutely—so what happened as a result? After conceiving such thoughts and with no restraint from his conscience, he unscrupulously opened the bottle and took the first sip. Not only did he feel no reproach or self-accusation afterward, but he actually enjoyed it. He thought he’d gotten away with it: “Look how clever I am, seizing the opportunity. You’re all fools; you don’t understand these things. Experience always trumps youth! None of you had this idea, none of you had the cheek to do this, but I did. What’s the worst that can happen? I’ve already taken the first sip; who’s to know?” He felt he’d come out ahead, and felt satisfied inside; he even thought he was being favored, that this was God’s grace. Once he made this mistake, he kept repeating it, and it spiraled out of control, continuing until he finished the whole bottle. This whole time, his conscience never felt any self-accusation or reproach. His conscience and rationality never told him, “This doesn’t belong to you; even if God doesn’t drink it, even if God throws it away, or gives it to a dog or a cat, as long as God hasn’t said it’s for you, then you shouldn’t use it; it’s not for you to enjoy.” His conscience didn’t tell him this because he had no conscience. What is a person with no conscience? They are defined as beasts. People with no conscience behave this way; they conceive such thoughts at the outset, and continue in this manner until the end, without a shred of reproach from their conscience. It may be that by now this fellow has long since forgotten the incident; or, if he has a good memory, he may still remember it and think he did the right thing at the time. He never thinks this was the wrong thing to do, and does not realize the severity and nature of what he did. He cannot recognize it. Is God’s classification of such people accurate? (Yes.) When God classifies, exposes, and casts out such people, giving them this kind of outcome, on what principles and on what basis does He classify them? (On the basis of their nature essence.) Does a person lacking a sense of conscience and rationality possess the conditions to accept and practice the truth? Do they have such an essence? (No.) Why do we say they don’t? When they start expressing their views on this matter, deep down in their heart, where is their God? Who is the God in their heart? Where does He stand? Do they have God in their heart? We can say with certainty that such a person does not have God in their heart. What is the implication of not having God in one’s heart? (They are a nonbeliever.) That’s right. They are not a genuine believer in God; they are not a brother or sister; they are simply a nonbeliever. What behaviors of theirs show they are a nonbeliever? Without God in their heart, they act and speak entirely according to their own whims, based on their own notions, imaginings, and preferences, without the influence of conscience. When they don’t understand the truth, their conscience does not stir; they act purely based on their own preferences, solely for their personal advantage and benefit. Is there any room for God in their heart? None at all. Why do I say that? Because the motivation, origin, direction, and even the manifestations of their actions and words are all aimed at serving their own interests; they act and speak based on what they believe will be beneficial for themselves. Everything they consider is geared toward their own interests and objectives, and they operate without feeling any reproach and without exercising restraint. Judging by this behavior, what do they treat God as? (Air.) Exactly, that’s spot on. If they could feel God’s presence, that God scrutinizes the heart of man, that God is beside people, continually examining them, would their actions lack any restraint? Would they demonstrate such reckless audacity? Absolutely not. Here arises a question: Does the God they believe in actually exist? (No.) That’s the essence of the issue. The God they believe in doesn’t exist; their God is simply air. Therefore, no matter how they verbally claim what God is like, no matter how they pray to God, regardless of how many years they have believed or what they have done or how much they have sacrificed, their nature is fully exposed based on their speech and behavior, their attitude toward God, and their attitude toward all things related to God. They treat God like air; isn’t this blaspheming God? (Yes.) Why is this considered blasphemy? They think, “They say God scrutinizes the heart of man—but where is God? Why haven’t I felt this? They also say that stealing offerings will be punished by God, but I haven’t seen anyone suffer retribution for stealing offerings.” They deny God’s existence; this is blaspheming God. They say, “God doesn’t even exist; how could He be doing any work? How could He be saving people? How has He reproached people? Who has He ever punished? I’ve never seen it happen, so anything offered to God can be used freely. If I happen to come across it today, it’s mine—I’ll consider it God’s way of favoring me. Whoever sees it or comes across it, it’s theirs; that’s who God has shown favor to.” What kind of logic is this? This is the logic of Satan, of robbers; this is one’s devilish nature coming out. Does such a person have genuine faith? (No.) After listening to so many sermons, they spout such a deluge of devilish words; do they have any foundation in the truth at all? (No.) So what did they get out of listening to all those sermons? They haven’t accepted God’s words, they don’t regard God’s words as the truth, and they do not treat God as God. That’s all there is to it.
Some people do indeed believe in their hearts that there is a God and have not the slightest doubt about God’s incarnation. But although they have followed Him for several years, suffered some hardships, and paid some price, they have not the slightest understanding of God deep within their hearts. In reality, what they believe in is still a vague God, an imagined God; their definition of God is merely air. How does God treat these people? He simply ignores them. Some people ask: “If God ignores them, why do they remain in the house of God?” They are rendering service. How should rendering service be conceptualized? One who renders service has no interest in the truth, or rather, they have such poor caliber that they cannot reach it. They treat God and the truth as something empty and vague, but in order to gain blessings, they can only rely on exerting some effort in exchange. Although outwardly they do not directly resist God, curse God, or oppose God, their essence is still that of Satan’s ilk—that which denies and resists God. Anyone who does not love the truth is no good, God has decided in His heart not to save such people. For those whom God does not intend to save, would He still get serious with them? Would God say to them, “You don’t understand this aspect of the truth, you need to listen carefully; you don’t understand that aspect of the truth, you need to put in more effort and ponder it”? Furthermore, God knows these people do not understand the truth and do not treat God as God. Should God show them some miracles and wonders to make them aware of His existence, or enlighten and illuminate them more so they know there is a God? Would God act this way? (No.) God has principles for doing these things; He doesn’t act this way toward just anyone. For those who can accept the truth, God is always working. What is God’s attitude toward those who cannot accept the truth or are not able to reach it? (He ignores them.) According to people’s notions, if God ignores someone, then this person wanders around like a beggar. One cannot see them pursuing the truth, nor can one see any action of God on them; they are merely rendering service, and they do not understand the truth. Is that all there is to it? In fact, these people can also enjoy some of God’s grace and blessings. When they find themselves in dangerous situations, God will also keep them safe. When they are seriously ill, God will also heal them. He may even give them some special talents, or in some special circumstances, God may perform some miraculous acts on them, or do some special things. That is to say, if these people can really expend themselves for God and render service well without causing disturbances, God does not discriminate against them. What are people’s notions regarding this matter? “God won’t save these people, so He’s just going to use them as He pleases and discard them afterward.” Is this how God will act? It is not. Don’t forget who God is; He is the Creator. Among all humankind, whether they are believers or unbelievers, from any denomination or ethnicity, in God’s eyes, they are all His created beings. That’s why the Lord Jesus said, “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good.” This statement is a principle for how God—the Creator—acts. Regardless of what outcome God ultimately bestows upon someone based on their essence, or whether God will save or not save them before giving them that outcome, no matter their essence, as long as they can do some tasks and render some service in God’s house and for God’s work, God’s grace remains unchanged; He will still treat them according to His principles, without any partiality. This is God’s love, the principle of His actions, and His disposition. However, according to the essence of these people, their views and attitudes toward God are always that they consider Him to be vague and nebulous, as if He exists and yet does not. They can neither recognize the real existence of God, nor can they experience it, and ultimately they are still not sure about God’s true existence. So, all God can do for them is to extend as much benevolence and righteousness as possible, providing them some grace, giving them some blessings and protection in this life, allowing them to feel the warmth of God’s house, and to enjoy God’s grace, mercy and lovingkindness. And that’s it—that’s all the blessings they will receive in this lifetime. Some people say: “Since God is so tolerant and they also enjoy God’s grace and blessings, wouldn’t it be better to take it a step further and let them receive God’s salvation too?” That is a human notion, God doesn’t act like that. Why doesn’t He? Can you put God into the heart of someone whose heart has no place for Him? You cannot. No matter how much truth you fellowship to them or however many words you say, it won’t matter; it won’t change their notions and imaginings about God. Therefore, all God can do for this kind of person is to provide some grace, blessings, care, and protection. There are some who say: “Since they can enjoy God’s grace, if God further enlightens and illuminates them, won’t they then recognize the real existence of God?” Can such people understand the truth? Can they practice the truth? (No.) If they can’t practice the truth, this fixes them as those who cannot be saved. Therefore, God will not engage in pointless or useless work. Some people say: “That’s not right. Sometimes they also encounter discipline or have some enlightenment from God and gain some truth from Him.” This again relates to God’s work. What must those whom God wants to save possess in order to be saved by God, in order to be an object of His salvation? People should understand this. God knows this too; He doesn’t save just anyone. Even if God displays some miracles, wonders, and mightiness to make people acknowledge Him, can these people thus be saved? That’s not how it goes. God has standards for saving people; one must possess genuine faith and also love the truth. Therefore, the work God does on people involving judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement also has its standards. Some people say: “We often encounter judgment and chastisement. Is facing judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement a sign that we will be saved by God?” Is it so? (No.) How can you be sure it’s not? Since some people don’t meet the conditions for being saved by God, would God still impose judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement on them? This raises a question about whom God imposes His judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement on; it involves people’s misunderstandings too. Tell Me, can a person who doesn’t even know who God is, where God is, or whether God even exists, receive God’s judgment and chastisement? Can a person who regards God as mere air receive God’s judgment and chastisement? Can someone whose heart is entirely devoid of God receive God’s trials and refinement? Definitely not. So, what might such people encounter at times? (Discipline.) That’s right, discipline. Those who regard God as mere air, who fundamentally do not recognize or believe in the existence of God, will definitely not receive God’s judgment and chastisement or His trials and refinement. It can be said that people with such an essence and with such behaviors are not the objects of God’s salvation. They cannot receive God’s salvation, but it’s not that God does not save them—it is decided by their nature essence that is sick of the truth and hates the truth. They lack the correct attitude of loving and accepting the truth, and thus they don’t meet the conditions for being saved. Then how does God treat them when they infiltrate God’s household hoping for blessings? Apart from providing some blessings, grace, and offering care and protection, what methods does God use to fulfill His role as the Creator? God issues reminders, warnings, and exhortations through His words. Subsequently, He deals with, prunes, reproaches, and disciplines them; the work God does on them ends there, it is all within this scope. What is the effect of these acts of God on people? It allows them to dutifully abide by restrictions, to behave decently while rendering service in God’s house, without causing disturbances or doing evil. Can what God does make such people loyally fulfill their duty? (No.) Why not? Can the grace, blessings, care, and protection they receive—along with the reminders of God’s words, being dealt with and pruned, the chastening and discipline, and so on—bring about a change in their disposition? (No.) They can’t bring a change in their disposition, so what effect does God’s work on them achieve? It makes them somewhat restrained in their behavior, helps them follow the rules, and makes them have some human likeness. Moreover, it makes them comparatively obedient; they will reluctantly accept being dealt with and pruned for the sake of God’s grace and blessings, and they will be able to do things according to the rules and the administrative decrees of God’s house, and that’s all. Does achieving all this mean they are practicing the truth? They still fall short of that, because what they do is basically just according to the principles in the administrative decrees of God’s house, as well as some rigid guidelines. It’s just a change in behavior, nothing more. So can one say that, since these people have changed their behavior, it would be even better to allow them to change their disposition as well? (They aren’t capable of that.) They aren’t capable of that, they cannot achieve it—this is one reason. And what is the most major reason? It is that they fundamentally do not have God in their hearts; they don’t believe in the existence of God. So, for such people, can they understand God’s words? Some of them can, and they say, “God’s words are good, but unfortunately, I can’t put them into practice. Practicing them feels even more agonizing than undergoing open heart surgery.” When their own interests are compromised, or when they have to act against their will, they feel utterly disoriented and cannot follow through. Even if they thoroughly exhaust themselves, they just can’t put God’s words into practice. Additionally, they never acknowledge or accept the fact that God’s words are the truth. They can’t absorb this; they don’t understand why God’s words are the truth. For instance, when God tells people to be honest, they say, “Fine, I’ll be an honest person if You say so, but why is being an honest person considered the truth?” They don’t know and can’t accept it. When God says people should obey Him, they question, “Is there money to be made in obeying God? Does God grant blessings for obeying Him? Can it alter one’s destination?” They don’t think anything God says or does is the truth. They have no idea what the significance of God’s words and requirements for man is and can’t discern what actions are correct and in line with the truth principles. Everything that comes from God—the identity of God, the essence of God, God’s words, God’s demands—all these things, in their view, cannot be determined as God’s possessions and being. They don’t know that God is the Creator; they don’t understand what the Creator is, or what God is. Isn’t this problematic? But this is exactly how some people behave. Others say: “That can’t be right. If they have these thoughts and views, how can they still willingly perform their duties in the house of God?” The term “willingly” should be in quotes here. How should this be explained? In one sense, they perform their duties because they are compelled by circumstances or because of their need for blessings; in another, they feel they have no other choice but to reluctantly go along with it for the time being, performing some duties and exerting a little effort. In their hearts, they believe that this is what they should do, but because they’re not interested in the truth, they can only exert effort and perform duties in exchange for God’s blessings. With this mindset, can they accept the truth? (No.) They don’t even understand what the truth is, so how could they accept it?
God’s work of judgment in the last days is to bring an end to this age. Whether or not one can be saved critically depends on whether they can accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and whether they can accept the truth. Some people acknowledge that God’s words are the truth, but they do not accept the truth. For them to accept the truth is as if they were to have a heart transplant; this is how agonizing they would find it. Given the way this kind of person treats the truth, refusing to accept it no matter what, God isn’t the One to blame for not saving them—only they can be blamed for not accepting the truth; they do not have this blessing. God’s saving people from Satan’s influence is not as simple as people imagine. In one respect, those who believe in God must accept being chastened, pruned, and dealt with through God’s words; this is one stage. In another, they must also accept God’s judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement. Judgment and chastisement are one stage; trials and refinement are yet another. Some people can reluctantly accept being pruned and dealt with, thinking they’ve achieved submission, and then make no further progress and no longer strive toward the truth. Others particularly love the truth and can endure any pain to obtain the truth. They can not only endure the chastening and correction of God’s words but can also enter into the stage of accepting God’s judgment and chastisement. They feel that accepting God’s judgment and chastisement is God’s exaltation, God’s love, and a glorious matter; they do not fear suffering. These people, after experiencing judgment and chastisement, can also accept trials and refinement and still pursue the truth. Regardless of how great the trials and refinement are, they can still see God’s love, and can offer themselves to satisfy God. No matter how much they are pruned and dealt with, they don’t consider it hardship; instead, they feel that this is an even greater love from God. After experiencing many more trials and refinement, they finally achieve thorough purification and perfection. This is to experience God’s work to the highest phase. Now tell Me, is there a difference between those who believe in God and only experience the one stage of God’s chastening and correction through His words, and those who experience two stages—God’s judgment and chastisement, as well as trials and refinement? There is certainly a difference. For some people, God stops after only chastening and correcting them, leaving the rest to their own choice and awareness. If they do not accept the truth and do not choose the right path, what does this indicate? It can be said that God has no way of saving such people. Some people often talk about suffering work, suffering prospects, suffering a house, suffering a partner, suffering affections—everything for them is a matter of suffering, and what is the final result? (It is unrelated to the truth.) That’s right, it is unrelated to the truth and unrelated to God’s work. What you’re doing in this case is just aimlessly suffering; you’re merely struggling and letting time pass by, without any process of praying to God or seeking the truth. That’s not the kind of “suffering” involved in refinement, because it is not God’s work and has nothing to do with Him. You’re just suffering yourself, not undergoing God’s refinement. Yet you still think it’s God refining you; you’re being overly optimistic. That’s just wishful thinking! You’re not even qualified to be refined by God. You haven’t even passed through the stage of chastisement and judgment, and you expect God to put you through trials and refinement? Is that even possible? Isn’t that a pipe dream? Can ordinary people endure trials and refinement? Is it something an ordinary person can accept? Is it something God bestows upon an ordinary person? Absolutely not. After God corrects a person, if that individual, due to their arrogant disposition, their intransigence, deceit, wickedness, or any other disposition, is judged, disciplined, or explicitly chastened by God in one or many matters, making them realize why they’re being disciplined by God—and, consequently, they develop a genuine understanding of God and of themselves, their disposition undergoes genuine change, and then gradually they gain true submission to the truth—only this process is the one by which God judges and chastises people. On what basis does God perform this work? There is a condition: A person who receives such work must be able to perform their duty adequately in God’s house. This adequacy requires only two things: obedience and loyalty. Firstly, the individual needs to have conscience and reason; only people with conscience and reason meet the conditions for accepting the truth. When such people with conscience and reason receive God’s chastening and correction, they are able to seek the truth and submit. Only after this does God proceed with the work of judgment and chastisement. That is the sequence of God’s work. However, if someone in God’s house can never perform their duty loyally, shows not the slightest submission to God’s sovereignty, and fails to perform their duties adequately, then when they face adversities, exposure, or being dealt with and pruned, at most what they experience is God’s correction and discipline. They are not subject to God’s judgment and chastisement, let alone trials and refinement. In other words, they are fundamentally not involved in God’s work of perfecting people.
The content we just fellowshiped pertains to God’s work of saving and perfecting people, the methods and objects of God’s work, as well as which people God performs His work of judgment and chastisement, trials and refinements on. It also touched upon the degree of people’s life entry when subjected to this work of God, and the kind of essence and conditions people must at least possess to accept God’s judgment and chastisement. So, what are people’s notions here? People think, “As long as one is following God, as long as one has accepted this step of God’s work, they are bound to be subjected to God’s judgment and chastisement. Then the trials and refinements from God will also come soon after. Therefore, we often face trials and refinements, being pruned and dealt with, and are deprived of family, affections, status, and prospects. Subsequently, we continually suffer in terms of affections, status, and prospects.” Are these statements accurate? (No.) People can turn a single word from God’s words and work into what they believe to be a spiritual term—why is that? In fact, the way they suffer is all just a struggle, it’s just letting time pass by; it has no significance whatsoever. But they regard it as trials and refinements, saying that it is God’s refinement. This is a grave mistake; it is something people forcibly impose upon God, and it does not represent God’s intentions at all. Isn’t this a misunderstanding of God? It is indeed a misunderstanding. And how does a misunderstanding like this develop? Because people don’t understand the truth, they develop such misunderstandings based on their own imaginings. Subsequently, they brazenly propagate and spread them everywhere, which eventually leads to various statements about “suffering.” Thus, I often hear some people say, “Someone got replaced and then became negative; they are ‘suffering status’!” Suffering status is not experiencing trials and refinements; it is just a person losing status, suffering emotional frustration, and struggling with inner pain during failure. Since what people call “suffering” and what God calls refinement are different, what does real refinement actually refer to? First of all, understand that God performs a lot of preparatory work before subjecting people to trials and refinements. For one, He selects people; He chooses the right individuals. Earlier we discussed what kind of person is considered right in the eyes of God and which conditions they must meet: Firstly, they must at least have conscience and reason in their humanity. Secondly, they must be able to perform their duties adequately, performing them with loyalty and obedience. Then, they have to undergo years of being dealt with and pruned, disciplined, and chastened. You may not be very clear about what discipline and chastening mean, as the concepts might not be very strong for you. They may seem relatively intangible and abstract to people. But when it comes to being dealt with and pruned, that is something people can hear and feel; there’s specific language and a definite tone involved, so people know what’s going on. If someone does something wrong, goes against principles, acts recklessly, or makes unilateral decisions that harm the interests of the house of God or the work of the church, and they are dealt with, then this is what it means to be dealt with and pruned. What about correction and discipline, then? For example, if someone is not fit to be a group leader and lacks loyalty, and does things that violate the truth principles or church regulations, and is subsequently replaced, is that correction? It is indeed a form of correction. Whether they are externally handled by the church or replaced by some leader, in God’s eyes, it is His doing and is part of His work; it is a form of correction. Also, when people are in a good state, they usually are filled with light and can have fresh insights; however, when their work falls apart due to some states or specific reason and they are exposed, isn’t this a form of correction? This is also a form of correction. Do these count as judgment and chastisement? At this point, they don’t yet count as judgment and chastisement, so they certainly cannot be considered as refinements and trials. They are merely corrections received during the course of performing one’s duties. The manifestations of correction sometimes include encountering illness or repeatedly bungling tasks, or losing one’s way in matters they were once proficient in and not knowing what to do. This is all correction. Of course, sometimes correction comes through clues from nearby people or through the exposure of an event that makes one embarrassed, causing them to retreat into deep self-examination and reflection. This is also correction. Is receiving God’s correction a good thing or a bad thing? (It’s a good thing.) Theoretically speaking, it’s a good thing. Whether people can accept it or not, it’s a good thing, as it at least proves that God is taking responsibility for you, that God has not left you, and that God is working on you, giving you prompting and guidance. The fact that God is working on you confirms that God has no intention to give up on you yet. One implication of this is that God may continue to correct and discipline you, or, if your performance is good and you’re on the right path, He will subject you to judgment and chastisement. But let’s not get too far ahead; for now, God will correct and discipline you multiple times. Then, because you pursue the truth, because you have submission, and because you are the right person, God will subject you to judgment and chastisement; this is the initial step. Most people have already experienced being simply dealt with and pruned; only newcomers have not experienced this yet. Most of the time people act based on the feelings of their conscience, feeling internal reproach, sensing God’s words prompting them in their ears or hearts: “I shouldn’t do this, this is rebellious”; these are God’s words prompting, exhorting, and warning them. There are various forms of being pruned and dealt with that people experience: It can come from leaders and workers, from brothers and sisters, from the Above, and even directly from God. Many people have experienced these, but fewer have experienced God’s correction and discipline. What does fewer imply here? It implies that many more people are far from receiving God’s judgment and chastisement—and what about God’s trials and refinements? They are even further from these; the gap is even larger, the distance even greater. Before, people have thought: “God has judged and chastised me, giving me a blister in my mouth,” “God has judged and chastised me, I made a mistake, said something wrong, and had a headache for days; now I understand what God’s judgment and chastisement are”—aren’t these misunderstandings? This kind of misunderstanding of God is the most common; most people misunderstand God in this way. This misunderstanding also produces some negative effects, making people feel that saying a single wrong word will result in God’s discipline. This is purely a misunderstanding of God, and is utterly inconsistent with what God does. With such misunderstandings about God, can one ultimately meet God’s requirements? They will definitely fall short.
Now, most people have experienced God’s correction and discipline, have experienced being dealt with and pruned, and have received prompting and exhortation from God’s words, but that’s all. Here arises a question: Why haven’t people experienced God’s judgment and chastisement even after experiencing up to this step? Why don’t being dealt with and pruned, the prompting of God’s words, or discipline and correction count as judgment and chastisement? From the perspective of the prompting of God’s words, being dealt with and pruned, and the correction and discipline that people have experienced, what result has been achieved? (They’ve gained constraints on their outward behavior.) Some changes have occurred in their behavior, but does this indicate a change in disposition? (No.) It does not represent a change in disposition. Some people say: “We’ve believed in God for so many years and listened to so many sermons, yet our dispositions have still not changed. Haven’t we been wronged? We’ve only had a little change in behavior; isn’t this so pitiful? When will God begin to save us? When will we receive salvation?” Let us discuss, then, what gains and changes have been made by those who have experienced these various aspects of God’s work. Just now someone mentioned behavioral changes; this is a general statement. To be more specific, on first coming to the church and taking up their duties, people have not been dealt with or pruned, and they are as prickly as a pear, wanting to have the final say on things. They think to themselves: “Now that I believe in God, I have rights and freedom in the church, so I’ll act as I see fit.” Eventually, once they have undergone a round of being dealt with, pruned, and disciplined, and once they’ve read God’s words, listened to sermons, and heard fellowshiping on the truth, they no longer dare to behave in this way. Actually, they haven’t become completely compliant; they’ve just gained a smidgeon of sense and have come to understand some doctrines. When others say things that align with the truth, they can acknowledge their correctness, and though they may not understand those things well, they can accept them. Are they not then much more compliant than they were? That they are able to accept these things demonstrates that their behavior has undergone some changes. How have these changes come about? They have arisen due to the exhortation and prompting, as well as the comfort, of God’s words. Sometimes, such people need some discipline, to be dealt with and pruned, as well as some fellowship on principles, telling them that a thing must be done a certain way and cannot be done otherwise. They think: “I have to accept it. The truth is laid out there; who would dare object to it?” In God’s house, God is great, the truth is great, and the truth reigns; with this theoretical foundation, some people have been awakened and gained understanding of what having faith in God is all about. Take someone who was originally barbaric and dissolute, completely unrestrained, and ignorant of rules, of belief in God, of God’s house, of the church, and of the principles of performing one’s duty: When such a person—who knows nothing—comes to God’s house with kindness and enthusiasm, brimming with “great” aspirations and hopes, and is there prompted and exhorted, watered and fed, and dealt with and pruned by God’s words, and is chastened and disciplined time and time again, gradually, some changes will occur in that person’s humanity. What changes are those? They come to understand something of the principles of human conduct, and come to know that, in the past, they rather lacked human likeness; they were barbaric, arrogant, defiant, and indignant; they spoke unlike an actual human and acted without rules, and did not know to seek the truth; they thought having faith in God was a simple matter of doing whatever God asks and going wherever He says; that is, they carried with them a barbarous vigor, all the while believing that this was loyalty and love for God. Now, this person denies all those things and knows they were the products of human imagining, mere good behavior, and some even originated from Satan. God’s believers should heed His words and place the truth above all else, letting the truth wield power in all things. In short, all people have already theoretically understood and acknowledged, and in the depths of their hearts accepted that these words God has spoken are correct—that they are the truth, the reality of positive things—regardless of how deeply these words have taken root in their hearts and no matter how great a role these words have played. Afterward, after undergoing a degree of intangible chastening and discipline, a measure of true faith arises in their consciousness. From their initial vague imaginings of God to the feeling that they have now—that there is a God, and that He is quite real—once people have had these feelings in their faith in God, then their thoughts and viewpoints, ways of looking at things, and moral standards, as well as their ways of thinking, will gradually begin to change. For instance, God requires people to be honest. Even though you can still lie and be deceitful, deep down you know that deceit is wrong, and that lying to and deceiving God is a sin, a wicked disposition—but you cannot help yourself. For instance, let’s say you still currently have an arrogant disposition. Sometimes you cannot restrain yourself, you often reveal this disposition, and you often rebel against God, always wanting to be dominant and act unilaterally, having the final say. But you also know that this is a corrupt disposition, and you can pray to God about it. Even though there is no noticeable transformation, your behavior has gradually begun to change. Even without undergoing judgment and chastisement, and even though your disposition has not changed, the truth and the words of God are gradually brightening the depths of your heart, while also guiding and altering your behavior, making you live more and more like a human, gradually awakening your conscience. If you do something that betrays your conscience, you will feel uncomfortable in your heart. Bringing up that matter makes you feel something; you are not as numb as before, you feel regretful, and are willing to correct yourself. Even if you cannot immediately change your disposition in this regard, if it touches upon your state, you can be aware that you have this state; you have an awareness within, and this awareness is changing your behavior. Such a change is solely a change in behavior. Though it is happening and continues to happen, it does not represent a change in disposition; it is absolutely not a change in disposition. Some people might feel uneasy after hearing this, saying, “Such a significant change and it’s still not a change in disposition? Then what is a change in disposition? What changes belong to dispositional change?” Let’s leave that aside for now; let us continue discussing the changes that people have already achieved, which are the effects and results of God’s words and all that He has done in people. People are working hard to change their thoughts and views that do not align with the truth. When faced with matters, they will have an awareness; they will compare the matter to the truth, saying, “This matter is not in line with the truth, but I cannot yet let go of my view; it is still there.” You have only become aware and learned that your view does not align with God’s words; can this prove that your view has already changed or been let go of? It cannot. Your view has not changed and has not been let go of, proving that your corrupt disposition remains intact and has not begun to change; it’s only that your consciousness, your inner heart, has already accepted God’s words and regarded them as the truth. But this is merely theoretical and a subjective wish—God’s words have not yet become your life and not yet become your reality. When God’s words become your reality, you will let go of your views, and you will treat all people, events, and things, as well as all that is happening around you, using the views of God’s words.
What stage is your life entry at now? You have already come to know your views are wrong, but you still rely on your views to live, and you use them to measure God’s work. You use your thoughts and views to pass judgment on the circumstances He puts in place for you, and you treat God’s sovereignty by means of your thoughts and views. Is this in line with the truth principles? Is this not absurd? People only understand a tiny amount of doctrine, yet they wish to evaluate God’s actions. Is this not incredibly arrogant? You now merely acknowledge that God’s words are good and right, and, to look at your outward behavior, you do not do things that obviously go against the truth, much less do you do things that pass judgment on God’s work. You are also able to submit to the work arrangements of God’s house. This is going from being an unbeliever to a follower of God with the decency of a saint. You go from someone who lives decidedly by Satan’s philosophies, and by Satan’s concepts, laws, and knowledge to someone who, having heard God’s words, feels they are the truth, accepts them, and pursues the truth, becoming someone who can embrace God’s words as their life. It is that sort of process—nothing more. During this period, your behavior and ways of doing things will certainly undergo some changes. No matter how much you change, what manifests in you is, to God, no more than changes in your behavior and methods, changes in your innermost desires and aspirations. It is nothing more than changes in your thoughts and views. You may now be able to offer your life to God when you summon your strength and have the impulse, but you cannot achieve absolute obedience to God in a matter you find particularly distasteful. This is the difference between a change in behavior and a change in disposition. Perhaps, your kind heart enables you to lay down your life and everything for God, saying, “I’m ready and willing to give up my life’s blood for God. In this life, I have no regrets and no complaints! I’ve given up on marriage, on worldly prospects, on all glory and riches, and I accept these circumstances that God has laid out. I can withstand all the ridicule and slander of the world.” But the moment God lays out a circumstance that does not fit your notions, you can stand up and clamor against Him and resist Him. This is the difference between a change in behavior and a change in disposition. It is also possible that you can lay down your life for God and give up the people you love most, or the thing you love most, with which your heart can bear least to part—but when you are called to speak to God from the heart, and be an honest person, you find it quite difficult and cannot do it. This is the difference between a change in behavior and a change in disposition. Then again, perhaps you do not crave fleshly comfort in this life, neither eating fine food nor wearing fine clothes, each day working yourself ragged and to exhaustion in your duty. You can withstand all manner of pain brought to you by the flesh, but, if God’s arrangements do not accord with your notions, you cannot understand, and grievances against God and misunderstandings about Him arise in you. Your relationship with God grows increasingly abnormal. You are always resistant and disobedient, unable to submit completely to God. This is the difference between a change in behavior and a change in disposition. You are willing to give up your life for God, so why can you not say an honest word to Him? You are willing to lay aside everything outside of yourself, so why can you not be singularly loyal to the commission God has given you? You are willing to give up your life for God, so when you rely on your feelings to do things and uphold your relations with others, why can you not reflect on yourself? Why can you not take a stand to uphold church work and the interests of God’s house? Is this someone who lives before God? You have already made a vow before God to expend yourself for Him your whole life and to accept whatever suffering comes your way, so why does one instance of dismissal from your duty make you sink so much into negativity that you cannot crawl back out for many days? Why is your heart full of resistance, grievance, misunderstanding, and negativity? What is going on? This shows that your heart loves status the most, and this is connected to your vital weakness. Therefore, when you are dismissed, you fall down and cannot get up. This is sufficient to prove that although your behavior has changed, your life disposition has not. This is the difference between a change in behavior and a change in disposition.
Most people now exhibit some good behavior, but very few are seeking the truth or accepting it, and almost none have true obedience. From this perspective, many people are merely experiencing changes in behavior and shifts in their thoughts and views; they have the willingness and aspiration to accept and submit to God’s sovereignty, and harbor no resentment in their hearts. Tell Me, have these people experienced God’s judgment and chastisement? (No.) Unfortunately, the experiential testimonies you’ve previously shared don’t involve God’s judgment and chastisement; they all fall short of God’s requirements. As long as you haven’t yet experienced God’s judgment and chastisement, then your disposition hasn’t begun to change. If your disposition hasn’t begun to change, then the changes you perceive are merely behavioral. Such behavioral changes are attributable to your own cooperation, they’re due in part to your good humanity, and they are the effects of God’s work. Do you really think that God will only go this far in saving people? (No.) Then what will God do next? What is the main work God engages in when saving people? (Judgment and chastisement.) The primary method God uses to save people is judgment and chastisement. But unfortunately, almost no one has yet been able to accept God’s judgment and chastisement. Therefore, God’s work of saving people, of perfecting them, and of changing their dispositions has not yet officially begun. Why hasn’t it officially begun? Because this work of God can’t yet be carried out upon people. Why can’t it be carried out? Because, given people’s current state, stature, and what they are currently capable of, they still fall far short of the standards required by God, so God can’t proceed with His work. Does that mean God will cease His work? No, God is waiting. What is He also doing while waiting? He is purifying the church, cleansing it of disruptors and disturbers, antichrists, evil spirits, evil people, nonbelievers, those who do not truly believe in Him, and those who cannot even render service. This is called clearing the field; it is also called winnowing. Is clearing the field God’s main work during this period? No, during this period, God will continue to work on you through the means of prompting with words, watering, nurturing, dealing with, pruning, correcting, and disciplining you. To what extent? Only once people possess the basic conditions to accept judgment and chastisement will God begin the work of judgment and chastisement. Now tell Me, based on your speculations and judgments, what conditions must people meet before God begins the work of judgment and chastisement? You can see that God does everything in its time. He does not work haphazardly. His management work follows the plan He has made, and He does everything in a step-by-step fashion, not haphazardly. And what of those steps? Each step of work God does on people must take effect, and when He sees it has, He does the next step of work. God knows how His work may take effect, what He must say and do. He does His work according to what people need, not haphazardly. Whatever work will be effective on people, God does it, and whatever is immaterial in terms of effectiveness, God assuredly does not do it. For instance, when there is need of negative object-lessons on which God’s chosen people may develop their discernment, false Christs, antichrists, evil spirits, evil people, and disturbers and disrupters will appear in the church, on which others may develop their discernment. If God’s chosen people understand the truth and can discern such people, then those people have rendered their service, and there is no longer value in their existing. At that time, God’s chosen people will rise up to expose and report them, and the church will immediately cleanse them away. All God’s work has its steps, and all those steps are arranged by God on the basis of what man needs in their life and their stature. What do people really need, and why do antichrists and evil people appear in the church? People are generally confused about these matters and don’t understand what’s going on with them. Some people, not understanding God’s work, harbor notions, and even complain, saying, “How can antichrists appear in God’s church? Why doesn’t God attend to this?” Only when they read God’s words stating that these occurrences are intended for people to learn lessons and develop discernment do they have an epiphany and understand God’s intentions. Initially, people lack discernment toward evil people. When the church expels such individuals, people entertain notions; they think those who were expelled made many contributions and were capable of enduring hardship, and think they should not have been expelled. They then become resistant to what God has done. But after a period of experience, people gain an understanding of the truth and develop the ability to discern evildoers. Now, when an evildoer is expelled, they no longer entertain notions or resist. When they see an evildoer committing wicked deeds again, they can identify them, and everyone collaborates to report the individual and clear them out before any significant harm has been done. These evildoers then no longer have a foothold in God’s house. How is this achieved? How does this discernment come about in people? It is God’s doing. Without God’s work, people couldn’t understand these things. God’s work follows a sequence, and the steps of this sequence are determined by what human life requires. But people themselves are unclear about what they actually need, they are muddle-headed. Therefore, God can only continue His work, arranging numerous lessons for people to learn from, enabling them to enter into the truth reality and achieve the results that He demands. Whether people understand or not, God tirelessly continues His work—this is God’s love. It’s just like how God prunes and deals with someone: If they make a mistake, God deals with them; if they make the mistake again, He deals with them again. If they are exposed again, God deals with them once more. He works patiently until the person truly gains understanding, is no longer numb, and becomes as sensitive as if they were touching a live wire when encountering similar situations again, no longer making mistakes. Then that is sufficient, and God will cease His work. When, upon encountering these matters again, you can handle them independently and in accordance with principles, God no longer needs to worry. This proves that you have understood God’s words and God’s truth, have embraced them in your heart, and they have become your life. At that point, God ceases His work. These are the steps of God’s work, and after you’ve experienced them, you will see God’s essence and wisdom; this is undeniable and 100 percent certain.
Just now, it was mentioned that the steps of God’s work are related to people’s dispositional change. God’s work is not about letting people undergo a bit of behavioral change, understand some rules, and have some human likeness, and then declaring that a great success. If that were the case, the work would have already been concluded in the Age of Grace. What does God want? (People’s dispositional change.) Correct, dispositional change is what people who are truly saved should possess. What God wants is not merely a change in people’s behavior, but more importantly, a change in their disposition; this is the standard for being saved. Some behavioral changes were also mentioned just now, such as being able to forsake things and lay down one’s life for God—these are clear behavioral changes. But if there isn’t loyalty to God’s commissions, if one can still act carelessly and perfunctorily, and there is still deception, this means that there hasn’t yet been a change in disposition. People now are only commendable in behavior; they appear to better match the demeanor of a saint, they behave with more humanity, and they have some dignity and integrity. However, no matter how much someone demonstrates good behavior, if it is not related to practicing the truth, and not lived out from their conscience, reason, and normal humanity, then it has nothing to do with a change in disposition and is not what God wants. Looking at it this way, in terms of your current behavior, no matter how much you abide by the rules, no matter how compliant you are, no matter how you might lay down your life, or how great your aspirations are, have you been able to make God content? Have you met God’s requirements? (No.) Is it that God’s requirements are too high? Some people think, “People are so compliant now, how come they haven’t met God’s requirements yet?” What do you think, is this compliance genuine obedience? (No.) That’s right. This compliance now is just having a bit of rationality, all of which is the result of God’s discipline. It is entirely the effect achieved by God’s discipline; it is only after God painstakingly spoke so many words that people’s conscience was awakened, people’s sense of conscience was stirred, and they began to live out some semblance of humanity, have some rules in doing things, know to inquire in whatever they do, and feel a bit of reproach when acting against principles. In short, changes in behavior do not meet the conditions for receiving God’s judgment and chastisement; God does not want people’s behavioral change. So, what does God want? He wants their dispositional change. And just what are the manifestations of dispositional change? To what extent must they change in various aspects to be qualified for God’s judgment and chastisement? They must change to the extent that God can see this person’s performance in all aspects—they especially can perform their duties adequately, and they can accept being pruned and dealt with, can seek the truth in everything, can follow God when faced with tribulations and trials, and fundamentally can accept and obey whatever God says; even when others do not supervise them, and when faced with temptations, they can refrain from doing bad things, not committing a bit of evil. In God’s eyes, such people are up to standard; they are qualified to formally receive His judgment and chastisement, which is the further step of God’s work of saving and perfecting them. What kind of signal, what kind of standard, is here—do you know? (What I thought of is, through God’s correction and discipline, a person can gradually recover their conscience and reason and, coupled with some changes in their behavior, they can eventually be able to perform their duties loyally. God might then begin the work of judgment and chastisement on that person.) Do you all agree with this statement? (Yes.) Good, but this is only one condition. Before God carries out the work of judgment and chastisement on someone, God will evaluate this person. How does He evaluate them? God has several standards. First, He observes what attitude they have toward His commissions; that is, what attitude they have toward the duties they should perform, whether they can perform their duties wholeheartedly, to the best of their ability, and with loyalty. In short, He observes whether people can meet the standard for adequate performance of duty—this is the first aspect. This directly relates to the life of believing in God and the daily work people engage in. Why does God set this aspect as a condition, as a standard for evaluation? What is the reason behind it—do you know? When God entrusts a task to someone, the attitude of that person is crucial—it is how He evaluates them. This task is entrusted to them by God; how would a person with conscience treat it as opposed to a person without conscience? How would a rational person treat it as opposed to an irrational one? There is a distinction between these. Conscience and rationality are traits that one’s humanity should possess. Aside from this, having just a bit of a sense of conscience or a bit of rationality is not sufficient. If people recover their conscience and rationality, do they then resemble humans? Have they thus attained the truth reality? No, it’s still not enough; God also observes the path people walk during the period of performing their duty. What kind of path people walk can meet God’s required standard? Firstly, to not commit evil and to have submission while performing duty is the minimum standard. If one is capable of committing evil, this person is completely done for; they are not the type of people God wants to save. Furthermore, in treating God’s commissions, aside from handling them with conscience and rationality, there is a greater need to seek the truth and understand God’s will. No matter the circumstances, regardless of whether the matter confronting you aligns with your notions and imaginings, you should maintain an attitude of submission. At this juncture, what God desires is your submissive attitude. If you merely acknowledge that God’s words are all the truth and correct, is that an attitude of submission? Absolutely not. What is the practical side of an attitude of submission? It is this: You must bring yourself to accept God’s words. Although your life entry is shallow, and your stature is insufficient, and your knowledge of the practical side of the truth is not yet deep enough, you are still able to follow God and submit to Him—that is an attitude of submission. Before you can achieve total submission, you must first adopt an attitude of submission, that is, you must accept God’s words, believe they are right, take God’s words as the truth and as the principles of practice, and be able to uphold them as rules even when you do not have a good grasp of the principles. That is a kind of attitude of submission. Because your disposition now still has not changed, if you want to achieve genuine submission to God, you first must have a mentality of submission and aspire to submit, saying, “I will submit no matter what God does. I do not understand much truth, but I know that when God tells me what to do, I will do it.” God sees this as an attitude of submission. Some people say, “What if I was wrong to submit to God?” Is God capable of being in error? God is truth and righteousness. God does not make errors; there are just many things God does which do not line up with people’s notions. You should say, “No matter whether what God does lines up with my own notions, I will just focus on listening, submitting, accepting, and following God. This is what I should do as a created being.” Even if there are people who judge you as submitting blindly, you should not care. Your heart is sure that God is truth, and that you should submit. This is right, and that is the sort of mentality with which one should submit. Only people possessed of such a mentality can gain the truth. If you do not have a mentality like this, but say, “I don’t suffer others irritating me. No one’s going to fool me. I’m too shrewd and cannot be made to submit to anything! Whatever comes my way, I have to look into it and analyze it. Only when it aligns with my views, and I can accept it, will I submit”—is that an attitude of submission? It is not an attitude of submission; it is a lack of a submissive mentality, with no intention in one’s heart to submit. If you say, “Even if it is God, I’ll still have to look into it. Even kings and queens get the same treatment from me. What You’re saying to me is useless. It’s true that I am a created being, but I’m no dummy—so don’t treat me like one,” then it is over for you; you lack the conditions to accept the truth. Such people lack any rationality. They do not possess normal humanity, so are they not a beast? Without rationality, how can a person achieve submission? To achieve submission, one must first be possessed of a submissive mentality. Only with a mentality of submission can a person have any rationality to speak of. If they do not have a mentality of submission, then they do not have any rationality. People are created beings; how can they see the Creator clearly? All of humanity has not been able to decipher one of God’s ideas for 6,000 years, so how can people instantly understand what God is doing? You cannot understand. There are many things which God has been doing for thousands of years, and which God has already revealed to humanity, but if He did not spell it out for people, they would still not understand. Maybe you understand His words in a literal sense now, but you will only truly understand a little twenty years later. This is how big a gap there is between people and what God demands. In light of this, people should possess rationality and a mentality of submission. People are just ants and maggots, yet they wish to see the Creator clearly. This is a most unreasonable thing. Some people always complain that God does not tell His mysteries to them, and does not explain the truth directly, always making people seek. But saying these things is not right, and is unreasonable. How many of all these words that God has told you do you understand? How many of God’s words can you put into practice? God’s work always happens in steps. If God had told people 2,000 years ago about His work of the last days, would they have understood? In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus became the likeness of sinful flesh, and was a sin offering for all humanity. If He were to tell people at that time, who would understand? And now, people like you understand some conceptual theories, but as for truths like God’s real disposition, God’s will in loving humanity, and the origin of and plan behind things God did at that time, people will never ever be capable of understanding. This is the mystery of the truth; this is the essence of God. How can people see it clearly? It is completely unreasonable for you to wish to see the Creator clearly. You are too arrogant and overestimate your abilities. People should not wish to see God clearly. It is already good if they can understand some of the truth. As far as you are concerned, understanding a bit of the truth is already a sufficient accomplishment. Therefore, is it rational to have a mentality of submission? This is absolutely a rational thing to do. A mentality and attitude of submission is the minimum of what every created being should possess.
Achieving adequate and loyal performance of one’s duty, and possessing a mentality of submission—how long does this take? Does it require a set number of years? There isn’t a set time frame, and it depends on one’s pursuit, their aspiration, and the degree of their longing for the truth. It also depends on their inherent conscience, reason, caliber, and insight. Upon acquiring an attitude of submission, immediately thereafter, there will be further changes in one’s speech, actions, and behavior. What are these changes? In God’s eyes, you are basically an honest person now. What does being basically an honest person mean? It means that the component of intentional lying in your speech and behavior has diminished; eighty percent of what you say is truthful. Sometimes, due to scumminess, circumstances, or some other reason, you inadvertently lie, and it feels as uncomfortable as having swallowed a dead fly; you feel uneasy for several days. You admit your mistake and repent before God, and afterward, there are changes—your lies become fewer and fewer, and your state improves. In God’s eyes, you are basically an honest person. Some people say, “If someone is basically honest, hasn’t their disposition changed?” Is that the case? No, this is just a change in behavior. In God’s eyes, being able to be an honest person involves more than just a change in conduct and behavior; it also involves essential changes in one’s mentality and views on matters. They no longer have an intention to lie or deceive, and there’s absolutely no falsehood or deception in what they say and do. Their words and deeds become more and more truthful, with more and more honest words. For instance, when asked if you have done something, even if admitting it would lead to getting slapped or being punished, you are still able to tell the truth. Even if admitting it entails bearing significant responsibility, facing death or destruction, you are able to tell the truth and are willing to practice the truth to satisfy God. This indicates that your attitude toward God’s words has become quite firm. No matter when, choosing any one of the standards of practice required by God has become hardly an issue for you; you can naturally attain and put it into practice without the constraints of external circumstances, the guidance of leaders and workers, or the sense of God’s scrutiny beside you. You are able to do these things quite effortlessly on your own. Without the constraints of external circumstances, and not out of fear of God’s discipline, nor fear of the reproach of your conscience, and certainly not out of fear of others’ ridicule or supervision—not because of any of these—you can proactively examine your own behavior, measure its correctness, and evaluate whether it complies with the truth and satisfies God. At that point, you have basically met the standard of being an honest person in God’s eyes. Being basically an honest person is the third basic condition for accepting God’s judgment and chastisement.
We just discussed the three conditions for accepting God’s judgment and chastisement: The first is performing one’s duty adequately, the second is having an attitude of submission, and the third is basically being an honest person. How is this third condition evaluated? What are the criteria? (One intentionally lies less frequently, and tells the truth more often.) It means being able to tell the truth most of the time; you should all be able to evaluate this one, right? Being an honest person is the third condition for accepting God’s judgment and chastisement. The second is having an attitude of submission, which includes some details, mainly not scrutinizing or analyzing God’s work, but only having a submissive mentality. Furthermore, it entails pursuing being an honest person, reaching a point where your lies decrease, and most of the time you can speak truthfully, expressing your true feelings. The most important aspect here is people’s subjective cooperation, which means making progress actively, and striving to reach for the truth. Having a submissive mentality is a result achieved on the subjective front; being able to become an honest person—being basically honest—is also a subjective matter, and is the result of one’s diligent pursuit. Accepting God’s judgment and chastisement has one more primary condition. I’ll first provide you with a clue, and if you think along the lines of what I’m saying, you’ll be able to grasp it. From the beginning of believing in God to the end, have people made many mistakes in this life? Have there been many acts of rebelliousness against God? (There have been many.) So what should someone do when they make a mistake, or when they are rebellious? (They must have a repentant heart.) Having a repentant heart is a sign of a person with conscience and reason. Having conscience and reason are the minimum qualities a recipient of God’s salvation should possess; those lacking conscience and reason cannot attain God’s salvation. If someone never knows to repent after making mistakes, what kind of thing are they? Can a person who never knows to repent follow God to the end? Can they have real change? (No.) Why not? (Because they lack a repentant heart.) Exactly, and this brings us to the final condition: One must have a repentant heart. While following God, because of their foolishness and ignorance and due to their various corrupt dispositions, people often reveal themselves to be disobedient, and sometimes misunderstand or complain against God. They go astray, and some even form notions about God, become negative and slacken in their work for a time, and lose their faith. Disobedient behaviors arise in every stage of people’s lives. They have God in their hearts and know He is at work when something happens, yet they sometimes cannot get their heads around that fact. Though they are able to submit superficially, they simply cannot accept it deep down. What makes it evident that deep down they cannot accept it? One way this manifests is that, despite knowing everything, they are simply unable to put aside what they have done and come before God to admit to their mistakes and say, “God, I was wrong. I won’t act like that anymore. I will seek Your will and do as You’d have me do. I didn’t use to heed You; my stature was small, I was foolish and ignorant, and frequently disobedient. I know that now.” What attitude do people have if they can admit to their mistakes? (They want to make a turnaround.) If people have conscience and reason, and yearn for the truth, yet they never know to self-reflect and make a turnaround after making mistakes, believing instead that the past is past and feeling certain that they are not wrong, then what sort of disposition does this show? What sort of behavior? What is the essence of such behavior? (Being intransigent.) Such people are intransigent and, come what may, that is the path they will follow. God does not like such people. What did Jonah say when he expressed God’s words to the Ninevites? (“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4).) How did the Ninevites react to these words? When they saw that God was going to destroy them, they hastened to take up sackcloth and ashes, confess their sins to Him, and leave the path of evil. This is what it means to repent. If man is able to repent, it presents man with an enormous opportunity. What opportunity is that? It is the opportunity to keep on living. Without real repentance, it would be hard to continue forward, whether in your performance of duty or in your pursuit of salvation. At every stage—whether when God is disciplining or correcting you, or when He is reminding and exhorting you—as long as a conflict has occurred between you and God, yet you do not make a turnaround, and continue to cling to your own ideas, viewpoints, and attitudes, then even though your steps are headed forward, the conflict between you and God, your misunderstandings of Him, your complaints and rebelliousness against Him are not rectified, and your heart does not turn around. Then God, for His part, will cast you out. Although you have not let go of the duty at hand, and you still keep to your duty and have a bit of loyalty for what God has commissioned, and people see this as acceptable, the dispute between you and God has formed a permanent knot. You have not used the truth to resolve it and gain a true understanding of God’s will. As a result, your misunderstanding of God deepens, and you always think that God is in the wrong and you are being treated unjustly. This means you have not made a turnaround. Your rebellion, your notions, and your misunderstanding of God still persist, which leads you to have a disobedient mentality, to be always rebellious and oppose God. Is this kind of person not someone who rebels against God, resists God, and stubbornly refuses to repent? Why does God place such importance on people making a turnaround? With what attitude should a created being regard the Creator? An attitude that acknowledges that the Creator is right, no matter what He does. If you do not acknowledge this, that the Creator is the truth, the way, and the life will be but hollow words to you. If that is the case, can you still attain salvation? You cannot. You would be unqualified; God does not save people like you. There are some who say, “God asks that people have a repentant heart, and that they know to make a turnaround. But there are many things where I haven’t made a turnaround. Do I still have time to do it?” Yes, there is still time. Additionally, some say, “In what things do I have to turn around? Things in the past are gone and forgotten.” If your disposition does not change even for a single day, and if even a single day goes by without your coming to know what in your actions does not accord with the truth and what cannot accord with God, then that knot that exists between you and God has not yet been untied; the matter has not been resolved. This disposition is within you; the idea, viewpoint, and attitude that disobeys God is inside you. As soon as the right circumstances appear, this viewpoint of yours will once again emerge, and your conflict with God will flare up again. Thus, though you may not rectify the past, you must rectify things that will happen in the future. How are they to be rectified? You must make a turnaround and put aside your ideas and intentions. Once you have this intent, yours will naturally also be an attitude of submission. However, to speak a bit more precisely, this refers to people making a turnaround in their attitude toward God, the Creator; it is a recognition and affirmation of the fact that the Creator is the truth, the way, and the life. If you can turn yourself around, this demonstrates that you can put aside those things you think are right, or those things that mankind—which is corrupt—thinks collectively to be right; and, instead, you are acknowledging that God’s words are the truth and positive things. If you can have this attitude, it proves your recognition of the identity of the Creator and of His essence. This is how God views the issue, and He therefore considers man’s turnaround especially important.
There are some who say, “If a person has done nothing wrong, what do they need to turn around for?” Even if you have not done anything wrong at the moment, you must first understand the truth of repentance. This is something you should possess. Once you understand the truth, you will discover that some things you did were inappropriate, and you will uncover problems which have to do with your intentions and mentality—that is, problems with your disposition. These things will float to the surface without you realizing them and make you see that your relationship with God is actually not a simple one between humans and God. God is still God, but you are a created being who does not meet the standard. In those matters in which people have failed to stay in their proper places, and have failed to accomplish what they ought to—that is to say, when they fail in their duty—it will become a knot within them. This is an exceedingly practical problem, and one that has to be resolved. So how to resolve it? What kind of attitude should people have? Before all else, they must be willing to turn themselves around. And how should this willingness to make a turnaround be put into practice? For example, a person is a leader for a couple years, but because they are of low caliber they do not do their job well, cannot see any situation clearly, do not know how to use the truth to solve problems, and cannot do any real work; therefore, they are dismissed. If, after being dismissed, they are able to obey, continue performing their duty, and are willing to turn around, what should they do? First of all, they should understand this, “God was right to do as He did. My caliber is so very poor, and for so long I’ve done no real work and instead only held up the work of the church and the brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. I’m lucky that the house of God did not expel me outright. I’ve really been pretty shameless, hanging onto my position all this time and even believing myself to have done such great work. How senseless of me!” To be able to feel self-loathing and a sense of remorse: is it or is it not an expression of the willingness to make a turnaround? If they are able to say this, it means they are willing. If they say in their hearts, “For so long, in my position as leader, I have always striven for the benefits of status; I was always preaching doctrine and equipping myself with doctrine; I did not strive for life entry. Only now that I’ve been replaced do I see just how inadequate and lacking I am. God did the right thing, and I must obey. In the past, I had status, and the brothers and sisters treated me well; they would surround me wherever I went. Now no one takes any notice of me, and I am forsaken; this is my due, it is the retribution I deserve. Moreover, how could a created being have any status before God? No matter how high someone’s status, it is neither the end nor the destination; God gives me a commission not so that I can throw my weight around or enjoy my status, but so I can perform my duty, and I should do whatever I can. I should have an attitude of obedience toward God’s sovereignty and the arrangements of the house of God. Although obedience may be hard, I must obey; God is right to do as He does, and even supposing I had thousands, tens of thousands, of excuses, none of them would be the truth. Obeying God is the truth!” these are exact expressions of the willingness to turn around. And if one were to possess all of these, how might God appraise such a person? God would say that this is a person of conscience and reason. Is this assessment high? It is not overly high; having conscience and reason alone falls short of the standards of being made perfect by God—but as far as this kind of person is concerned, it’s already no small accomplishment. Being able to submit is precious. After this, how the person seeks to make God change His view of them depends on which road they choose. If they have not truly repented, and because they have no status, they are not loyal in their duty and always careless and perfunctory, then it is completely over for them; they will be cast out. If they still harbor grievances, complaining, “During my time as a leader, I suffered so much, and even if there were no merits, there was hard work. They say I didn’t do practical work, but I did quite a lot. Regardless of whether or not I achieved any results, at least I wasn’t idle. Just because I wasn’t idle, God shouldn’t cast me out so casually. Even without status, I’m still being made to do this and that—isn’t this toying with me?”—if after being replaced, they don’t have any enthusiasm left to perform any duty, is there any loyalty or obedience here? They have no loyalty, no obedience, and no willingness to turn around; they have none of these. Isn’t this pitiful? It’s all too pitiful; they believed in vain all these years. Having listened to sermons for so many years, yet not practicing any truth, always lecturing others on words and doctrines, but unable to do anything themselves—this is how they believed in God; they preached quite a lot of doctrine to others, but in the end, they can’t even resolve their own issues. It’s so pitiful! And they still wish to receive God’s judgment and chastisement? After being replaced, they still contend with God and suffer torment, showing no obedience whatsoever. Isn’t this just blindly suffering? Your suffering is worthless! Putting aside everything else, and just looking at the fact that you became furious and confrontational when the church removed you from your position—just based on that alone, you’re not worthy to be a human, not worthy to be a created being of God. So just what are you arguing for then? Whatever arguments you have are useless. You’ve believed for so many years, yet you lack even this modicum of obedience; where are the fruits of your faith over the years? Pitiful, detestable, disgusting! You were given status and you treated it like an official role; does having status mean your disposition has changed? Isn’t it just God’s grace? God graced you with this commission, yet you took it as an official role—isn’t that disgusting? Are there any officials in the house of God? Among the saints through the ages, none were officials. For two thousand years, people have worshiped Paul, but no one ever said Paul held any official title. Therefore, the term “official” does not hold up; it’s neither a reward nor a commission from God, and you need to let go of it. If you constantly pursue being an official, will God approve of this? Will it allow you to achieve salvation? Definitely not. Just now we mentioned that to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, one must have a willingness to turn around. Is this important? (Yes.) It’s extremely important to have such an attitude! If you wish to establish a relationship of the Savior and the saved between you and the Creator, and you wish for God to save you, you must correct your position, and must ascertain the place and status of God in your heart. What is your position, then? (A created being.) Who is a created being? It’s man, not a beast. At any time, you must remember that you are a created being, an ordinary human, and you mustn’t forget your rightful place. When God gives you a bit of grace, a bit of blessing, you then lose sight of who you are. When, in His humbleness and hiddenness, God shares some heartfelt words to comfort you, He is elevating you; and yet you want to stand on equal footing with God, raising yourself up—what thing would do this? Would a human? (No.) God does not recognize a created being such as you—you can step aside! If God doesn’t recognize you, will He perfect you? You don’t meet the conditions to be made perfect by God. Hasn’t the crux of the discussion been conveyed clearly by this point? Thus, having the willingness to reverse course is very important; it is a state of mind, and, at the same time, it’s an attitude. This attitude is an important principle of practice that one should possess to receive God’s salvation and perfection. Don’t think of yourself as so great, so noble, nor assume that you are absolutely correct and infallible. You are not great, glorious, or correct; you are minuscule, lowly, a created being of mankind corrupted by Satan. You need to accept the Creator’s salvation. You are not already saved, you are not perfect; you must possess this sense.
There are four conditions for accepting God’s chastisement and judgment: adequate performance of duty, having a mentality of submission, being basically honest, and having a repentant heart. Remember these four conditions and compare yourselves against them when you encounter situations. If a situation involves submission, then practice submission. God’s word requires people to have a submissive attitude; if you compare yourself to God’s words and find a big disparity, what should you do? Do as God says, follow God’s words without analyzing or arguing. If you try to argue, God will be disgusted with you. What will you do if God is disgusted with you? There’s one remedial measure, which is to immediately reverse course. Don’t hurt God’s heart over a trivial matter and then continue to hurt God’s heart and ignore Him. Humans are nothing; if you ignore God, He will not want you anymore. What do you do if God ignores you and does not want you? You say, “I’ll reverse course. Don’t abandon me, God, I can’t make it without You.” But just saying this is useless. God doesn’t need your sweet talk; He’ll look at your attitude, your practice, the path you’ll walk afterward, and your performance. Don’t think God is an ordinary person, whom you can move with a few sweet words; God isn’t like that, He looks at your attitude. Once you’ve reversed course, God sees that you’ve gone from being intransigent to submissive, and can accept the truth, no longer contending with God. Your intransigence has undergone a change, you know who you are, and you recognize your God; closely following this, God will start to carry out some work on you. Some people say: “I haven’t felt that God intends to do anything.” Don’t rely on your feelings. Are your feelings accurate? God has done so much work on you—have you felt any of it? Did you feel it when God was heartbroken? You didn’t know anything—perhaps you were even feeling happy somewhere else. So, don’t interpret God’s feelings based on your own feelings, and don’t measure God’s feelings by your own feelings; it’s useless. If God ignores you, and you feel nothing, and don’t receive enlightenment or acknowledgment, what should you do? Remember one thing: You must continue to fulfill the responsibilities and duties a created being should fulfill, and you must still speak truthfully as you should. Don’t revert back to your previous lies just because God ignores you or doesn’t want you anymore, speaking now as you spoke back then; if you do this, you’re completely done for. This is contending with and opposing God. You need to hold fast to your duty, and submit as you should. What’s the benefit in this? When God sees you’ve reversed course, His heart will soften, and His wrath and anger toward you will gradually withdraw. Isn’t the withdrawal of God’s wrath a good sign for you? It means your turning point has arrived. When you stop living based on feelings, stop trying to scrutinize God’s expressions, and stop making extravagant demands of God to make His position known, but instead live according to the words spoken by God, the duties and the principles of practice God has entrusted to you, and according to the path God has told you to practice and walk; if you live according to all of these, and regardless of how God treats you or whether He pays attention to you, you continue to do as you should—then God will approve of you. Why will He approve of you? Because no matter what God does to you, whether or not He pays attention to you, whether or not He grants you grace, blessings, illumination, enlightenment, care, or protection, and no matter how much of this you feel, you can still follow Him to the end. You have held fast to the position that a created being should hold without any change; you’ve taken God’s words as the goal and direction of your life, and taken God’s words as the truth and as the highest words of wisdom in your life. What is the essence of such behavior? It’s recognizing in your heart that the Creator is your life, that He is your God. In this way, God is reassured, and you become a normal person living in the presence of God; one such as this possesses the basic conditions for a change in disposition. On this basis, can the understanding and changes achieved by people be considered a change in disposition? They still fall short. Therefore, you must possess an acknowledgment of the identity of the Creator, and also have a responsible attitude toward your own duty. Additionally, you need to have an attitude that can accept and submit to the truth. After possessing these qualities, God will then begin the work of judgment and chastisement on you. Being saved starts from this point. Some people say: “If we possess these qualities, does it mean our disposition has already changed? Having changed so much, what else is there for God to judge and chastise?” What does God judge and chastise? It is people’s nature essence, which is their corrupt disposition. If one possesses these four conditions and is able to satisfy them, which aspect of their corrupt disposition has thoroughly changed? None of them. There has merely been a slight behavioral change, but it’s not enough. There has not been a fundamental change. That is to say, before God begins His work of judgment and chastisement on you, your self-knowledge will always be superficial and surface-level. It will not match your corrupt essence; it is far from it, the gap is quite significant. Therefore, before God starts His work of judgment and chastisement, no matter how good, guileless, rule-abiding you think you are, or how submissive an attitude you think you have, you must know one thing: Your disposition has not yet formally begun to change. Your ways of practice and those methods of yours only indicate behavioral change, and constitute the basic humanity that a person who will be saved by God ought to possess. Honesty, submission, the ability to reverse course, loyalty—these are things that should exist within one’s humanity. Of course, this also includes conscience and reason; you must possess these qualities before God carries out His work of judgment and chastisement. Once someone has all these four conditions—adequate performance of duty, a submissive mentality, being basically honest, and a repentant heart—God will commence His work of judgment and chastisement on that person.
Now, you should have some concept in your mind about how God specifically carries out the work of judgment and chastisement on people. For example, concerning wickedness, people often probe God, inexplicably want to scrutinize Him, and harbor suspicions, doubts, and questions about God’s words. They speculate about what God’s attitude toward people truly is, always wanting to know this. Is this not wicked? Do people currently know which of their states or behaviors display this kind of disposition? People are not clear. During the period of judging and chastising you, God will make you open up and lay bare yourself and your various states so that you gain clarity about them in your heart. Of course, when laying yourself bare, you may not feel too ashamed; at the very least, it will let you know why God is judging and chastising you. You will see that God’s words of judgment and His revelations are factual, convincing you completely and making you see they are accurate without exception. Then, it will be clear to you that all these are things that exist within yourself; they are not just behaviors or momentary outpourings, but your very disposition. Next, during the period when God is carrying out His work of judgment and chastisement, you will be exposed continuously and be dealt with due to your corrupt disposition, causing you to suffer and endure refinement. For instance, being suspicious of God is an expression of wickedness. People are often suspicious of God but never realize that this is wicked; this issue must be resolved. When God judges and chastises you, if you are suspicious of God, He will let you know that this is wicked. You live within a wicked disposition, using that wicked disposition to treat the God you believe in, to compete against your God, and to cast suspicion on your God—and your heart will feel agony. You don’t want to do this, but you can’t help it. Since you have this corrupt disposition, God will arrange circumstances to refine you, making you unknowingly abandon your notions and imaginings, your logical thinking, and your thoughts and ideas. At that point, you will suffer; this is true refinement, and it is due to this corrupt disposition that you are refined. How does refinement come about? If you think it is not a corrupt disposition, believe you don’t have such manifestations or states, and are not that kind of person, and if you feel this aspect of a corrupt disposition does not reside within you, then when God judges you, will you be refined? (No.) When you admit that you’ve revealed a corrupt disposition, and you know that God has judged you, and you can match your corrupt disposition up to His judgment, but you still rationalize and still live within that corrupt disposition, unable to break free—this is how refinement comes about. You know that God dislikes and loathes your corrupt disposition, and you are far from meeting God’s requirements; you clearly know that you’re wrong and God is right, but you cannot put the truth into practice, nor can you follow God’s way—your pain arises at that moment. Do you now have such pain? (No.) Then at the very least, you haven’t endured refinement in terms of your corrupt disposition; you only experience some pain from being reproached and disciplined when you make mistakes or transgressions, but this is absolutely not refinement. Suppose you can enter into such a life, embark upon such a path, and you say: “I am no longer suffering affections or status, but am truly enduring refinement. I have realized that I really am incompatible with God, my corrupt disposition is deeply rooted, and I can’t shed it. Let God refine and expose me.” When you live within such a state, you are on the path to being saved. Saying this now, you may all yearn for and look forward to the arrival of that day, but I don’t know how many of you can actually be blessed enough to enjoy such treatment. This is a monumentally good thing and an enormous blessing. Being saved is not easy. If the Creator truly values you, chooses you, and lets you be His follower, that’s only the first step to being saved. If the Creator values you and says that you are qualified to receive His judgment and chastisement, that’s only the second step. If you can emerge from God’s judgment and chastisement, reach a state where your disposition changes, and become compatible with the Creator, taking up the path of fearing God and shunning evil, that is the final outcome. Now, who among you will be blessed enough to reach that day, who will be blessed to receive such salvation? Can it be discerned from one’s appearance? From one’s caliber? From one’s level of education? (It cannot.) Can it be determined by what duties one performs now? Or the family one was born into? None of these factors can reveal it. Some people say, “My family has believed in the Lord for three generations; I believed while still in my mother’s womb, so I will surely be saved.” This is foolish talk and incredibly ignorant; God does not look at such things. The Pharisees believed in God for generations, and what has become of them now? God does not even want them as His followers; they have been thoroughly cast out; they are irrelevant to God’s work of salvation and have no part in it.
Whether or not one can accept God’s judgment and chastisement is directly related to the key issue of dispositional change. However, people tend to have many notions about God’s judgment and chastisement. It is essential to frequently fellowship the truth according to God’s words to resolve these issues. This is most necessary. Why does God judge and chastise people? To what extent has humankind become corrupt? What issues do judgment and chastisement aim to resolve, and what outcomes do they achieve? What are the standards that God demands of people? If these truths are not understood, it is not easy for one to accept judgment and chastisement; they will easily develop notions about God, as well as rebelliousness and resistance, and they may even blaspheme God and become hostile toward Him. How does God save people? Who can accept God’s judgment and chastisement? Who can embark on the path of pursuing the truth and being perfected? Who will be cast out by God’s work of the last days? If these truths are clearly fellowshiped, won’t people’s notions about judgment and chastisement be resolved? At the least, they will be basically resolved—any issues that remain can only be resolved through one’s own experience; they will naturally be resolved when the truth is understood. Some people say: “Our sins have been forgiven, so why do we still need to experience judgment and chastisement?” Being forgiven of sins is God’s grace; it qualifies people to come before God. However, judgment and chastisement aim to thoroughly save people from sin and from Satan’s influence; the two are not contradictory. In the Age of Grace, God redeems people and forgives their sins; in the Age of Kingdom, God judges people and purifies their corrupt disposition. These are two stages of God’s work. Many ridiculous individuals in religion always have notions about judgment and chastisement; they rigidly cling to the phrase “justification through faith once sins are forgiven,” and absolutely refuse to accept God’s judgment and chastisement. Should one argue with such people? If you encounter such people, and if they can accept God’s words and the truth, you can fellowship the truth with them and read God’s words to them. If they absolutely refuse to accept the truth, there’s no need to bother with them; they are absolutely not the recipients of God’s salvation. God only saves those who can accept His words and the truth; for those who absolutely cannot accept God’s words and the truth, God will absolutely not save them. Those who can accept the truth can easily resolve their notions, no matter how many they may have; they just need to read more of God’s words and seek the truth more. People who can accept the truth are those with humanity and those with conscience and reason. Before people accept God’s judgment and chastisement, they will develop many notions and many incorrect thoughts, as well as some negative states. The most common negative state is, “I have expended myself for God and performed my duties; I should be protected and blessed by God in all things. Why have calamities befallen me?” This is the most common state. There is also another kind of state: Upon seeing others living in good conditions and enjoying themselves, while finding oneself living in difficulty and poverty, they blame God for being unjust. It could even be that they see others achieving better results in performing their duty, and they become envious and negative. They are also negative if others’ families are harmonious and united, if others have a higher caliber than them, if performing their duty is tiring, or if something does not go as they wish. In short, under any circumstances that do not align with their notions and imaginings, they become negative. If this person has some caliber and can accept the truth, they should be helped. As long as they understand the truth, the issue of their negativity can be easily resolved. If they do not seek the truth and remain negative, always harboring notions about God, then God will set them aside and pay them no mind, for the Holy Spirit does not do futile work. Such people are too self-willed, do not accept the truth, always have notions about God, and always have their own demands; this is highly lacking in sense and makes them somewhat impervious to reason. They can understand the truth but do not accept it. Is this not a bit like knowingly committing offenses? Therefore, God pays them no mind. Some people say: “I am often negative, and God ignores me. This means God doesn’t love me!” Such a statement is absurd. Do you know whom God loves? Do you know how God’s love is manifested? Do you know whom God does not love and whom God disciplines? God’s love has principles; it’s not as humans imagine, constantly enduring people and showing mercy and grace to them, saving everyone no matter who they are, forgiving everyone regardless of the sins they commit, and ultimately bringing everyone into the kingdom of God without exception. Are these not just people’s notions and imaginings? If it were so, there would be no need for God to perform the work of judgment. There are principles to how God behaves toward people who are often negative. When people are constantly negative, there is a problem here. God has said so much, expressed so many truths, and if a person truly believes in God, then after reading God’s words and understanding the truth, the negative things in them will grow ever fewer. If people are always negative, it is certain that they do not accept the truth at all, and so as soon as they encounter something at odds with their own notions, they will become negative. Why do they not seek the truth in God’s words? Why do they not accept the truth? It is surely because they have notions and misunderstandings about God, and furthermore never seek the truth. So will God still pay them any attention when they approach the truth in this way? Are such people not impervious to reason? What is God’s attitude toward those who are impervious to reason? He casts them aside and ignores them. Believe in whatever manner you wish; whether or not you believe is up to you; if you truly believe and pursue the truth, then you shall gain the truth; if you do not pursue the truth, then you shall not obtain it. God treats every person fairly. If you do not have an attitude of acceptance of the truth, if you do not have an attitude of obedience, if you do not strive to meet God’s requirements, then you may believe however you wish; also, if you would rather leave, you may do so at once. If you do not wish to do your duty, the house of God will not force you to; you can go wherever you like. God does not urge such people to stay. That is His attitude. You are clearly a created being, yet you never want to be a created being. You always want to be the archangel, unwilling to submit to God, and you always desire to be on equal footing with God. This is brazenly resisting God; this is something that offends God’s disposition. You are obviously just an ordinary person, yet you always wish for special treatment, to have status and to be someone, wanting to be better than others in every way, receive great blessings, and surpass everyone. This shows a lack of reason. How does God view people who lack reason? How does God appraise them? Such people are impervious to reason. Some say: “If You say I’m impervious to reason, then I won’t render service anymore!” Who asked you to render service? If you are unwilling to do it, God won’t force you; hurry up and leave—God’s house won’t keep you. Even if you are willing to render service, God’s house has requirements. If your service is substandard and your performance of duty brings too much trouble to God’s house, doing more harm than good, God’s house will certainly cast you out; even if you wish to render service, God’s house will not want you. If people are willing to render service, can accept the truth, and accept being pruned and dealt with, then they are qualified to stay in God’s house. If they can pursue the truth, accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and are able to be saved and perfected, this is an immense blessing. Don’t think God is begging you and that He needs to judge and chastise you; God will not beg you. God saves and perfects people selectively, with a specific target in mind, and with principles; not all who believe in God can achieve being saved by Him—many are called, but few are chosen. You have to meet several of God’s standards—performing your duty adequately, having a submissive mentality, being basically honest, and possessing a repentant heart—and only then will God formally begin to judge and chastise, purify and perfect you. Some say: “Experiencing judgment and chastisement means suffering!” While it’s true that you will suffer, you have to be qualified for it. If you’re not qualified, you’re not even fit to suffer! Do you think God’s work and His perfecting of people are that simple? Those who refuse to accept judgment and chastisement, or who flee from judgment and chastisement, will ultimately be held accountable for their actions. Regardless of who someone is or what their attitude toward God is, if this attitude doesn’t align with what God requires, God will not intervene and will let them go their own way. God’s words are all right there; if you can do what He says, then do it. If you’re willing to do it, then do it. If you’re unwilling to do it or can’t do it, God won’t force you. Do you think God will beg you? Do you think God will discipline you? Rest assured, God absolutely will not do that. God will say: “If you do not like accepting the truth, if you are sick of God’s judgment and chastisement, then fine. You have already enjoyed some grace, so hurry back to the world, hurry up and leave; you won’t be forced. You are not qualified to enjoy the blessings of the kingdom of heaven, and you can’t obtain them even if you wish to.” What does it mean that God does not force people to accept His judgment and chastisement? It means that if people do not accept God’s judgment and chastisement, God neither disciplines, chastens, reminds, nor admonishes; there will be no enlightenment or illumination from the Holy Spirit. On the surface, these people appear to live quite comfortably. They aren’t disciplined for performing their duty carelessly and perfunctorily, nor for their passive slackening at work, nor for their casually judging God. Even for misunderstanding God, complaining about God, and resisting God, they feel nothing in their hearts, until they commit a great evil like stealing or misusing offerings, yet they remain unaware. People who commit such great evils go for years without reflecting on themselves, without the slightest bit of repentance, without any premonition of what punishment or outcome will come their way. A normal person should have some kind of premonition, but they do not because God does absolutely nothing in them. God’s inaction is a kind of attitude. What does it represent? Can you imagine what God is thinking in His heart? He has utterly given up on such people. Why does God give up on such people? He despises such people; they are less significant than a feather, than an ant, they are not worth mentioning, and their end is thus decided. One day, when such a person says, “I want to be a created being of God, I accept You as my Lord, my God,” will God want them? God will not. Some say, “I regret it, I am turning back now.” Is it too late for them? It’s too late. Because their nature is that of a devil and will never change, God does not save such people. No matter how regretful they are, no matter how pathetically they cry, can they change? Can they truly repent? Absolutely not. So, whether or not you pursue the truth, as long as you genuinely believe in God, you should understand the administrative decrees of God’s house. You absolutely cannot have designs on God’s offerings; even having thoughts of stealing or using them is unacceptable. Once you take such actions, you will bring about great calamity, affecting your ultimate outcome. Once your outcome is determined, thinking back on what God has said or what God’s requirements are, and feeling regretful will be useless. Right now, God’s work has not yet concluded, but some people’s outcomes have already been determined. God has not proclaimed this matter, nor has He told anyone. These people still think they are doing well, still idling away their time. Even with death knocking at the door, they are completely unaware; they are a pack of muddled people and good-for-nothings.
I’ll proceed with another two cases. The previous case discussed a man, while the two main characters in these cases are two female leaders. Upon hearing this appellation, one can immediately understand that their statuses are not low; and yet, people of such status can commit great evils. One of these two women had dealings with an unbeliever whose business was on the brink of collapse due to insufficient capital. Since this woman served as a leader in the church and had control over financial resources, the unbeliever asked to borrow money from her. Without seeking from the Above, she unilaterally agreed to lend out hundreds of thousands of yuan. Money belonging to people can be loaned, but God’s money is an offering, and anyone who touches God’s offering must face punishment. She privately misappropriated the offerings, and the sum was not insignificant. Following the misappropriation, the church took action against her, requiring her to work to repay the money. This is how the church handled it; it was a human method. She was able to repay the money and outwardly appeared to have a decent attitude. Does this signify that she turned herself around? (No.) Her actions were quite audacious, much like a reckless blockhead, indicative of her disposition and her attitude toward God. Can such a person comprehend the truth purely? Can she be able to act with reason? She dared to tamper with God’s offerings, treating it as her own money. Without God’s instruction on how to allocate the funds, or stating that it should not be touched, she had neither principles nor boundaries in her heart. She believed that as a leader, she had the right to control this money, and dared to misappropriate it. After the misappropriation, how did God handle it? God didn’t even have to lift a finger; the church punished her. Just these hundreds of thousands of yuan determined her ultimate outcome: She was forever cut out by God and cast aside. Why would God do this? This represents God’s wrath; of course, it is also an aspect of God’s disposition. God tolerates no offense; if you offend God’s disposition, you have crossed a line. Is this stipulated in the administrative decrees? (Yes.) God’s chosen people are clear on this: Misappropriating offerings is an offense against God’s disposition. When this woman misappropriated the offering, did God intervene? God did not intervene, did not stop her, and did not say anything; nor did He restrain, reprimand, or warn her when she was taking action—the money was loaned out just like that. She was feeling quite pleased with herself before the issue was exposed, and the church handled her. She began to cry and snivel, and then immediately started working to repay the money. In fact, was it the money that God cared about? No; what He cared about was not the money, but the attitude the woman revealed to Him in this matter. This was what God cared about. Offending God’s disposition precisely because of money—is this not deserving of death? This is called getting what you deserve! If you’re a bit negative or weak, or sometimes have some adulterations while performing your duty, or sometimes stand in the position of a certain status and indulge in its benefits, God sees this as a revelation of a corrupt disposition. But when you tamper with God’s offerings without consulting Him, or misuse it without obtaining His permission, what kind of problem is that? This is stealing offerings. And what kind of disposition does this indicate? It’s the disposition of the archangel, the disposition of Satan. Is it not betrayal to steal God’s offerings? (It is.) What did Satan do that God deemed betrayal? (It sought to become God.) As for the woman we’re discussing, she wanted to control God’s offerings. Who did she think she was? (She thought she was God.) Exactly, she saw herself as God, and that was where she erred. That’s why we say she offended God’s disposition. Is the nature of this serious? (Yes.) Is our characterization accurate? (It is accurate.) She no longer has an outcome. She has no outcome—that’s how it appears now. In terms of God’s definition, in terms of what punishments she will experience afterward, these are matters for the future. This is the story of the first woman. She was truly audacious, capable of deceiving those above and below her, acting recklessly without considering the consequences, both foolish and insolent. Did she possess any modicum of submission or desire to seek? (No.) She wanted to control God’s offerings, God’s possessions, without anyone’s consent and without discussing or fellowshiping the matter with anyone else. She took it upon herself to handle this matter unilaterally, and these were the consequences. Some may say: “Does merely touching God’s offerings mean one is offending His disposition?” Is that so? No. The church has principles for allocating God’s offerings, and if you act according to those principles, God will not intervene. If you already have the principles and you don’t follow them, but rather insist on acting recklessly and doing things your own way, privately handling these matters yourself, then you are offending God’s disposition. That is the story of the first woman.
The story of the second female leader also pertains to offerings. Here’s how it goes: The church bought a house to serve as a place of worship, which required some renovation. Renovation involves designing and buying materials, which costs money. Since this is the work of God’s house, involving God’s management, the money spent is naturally from God’s house, and it is God’s offering. This money is used legitimately and rightfully according to the principles of God’s house. At the time, this woman was a leader and was responsible for this project. She chose a new believer, unfamiliar to anyone, to come and oversee the project. This man was like an unbeliever. Later on, she colluded with this unbeliever, buying many high-end items and wasting a lot of money. Isn’t this swindling money from God’s house? This is defrauding and squandering God’s offerings! This unbeliever made quite a bit of money from it. Did this have anything to do with the woman? (Yes.) She facilitated this, allowing the unbeliever to do such things. When someone discovered the issue and wanted to report it, she vehemently obstructed and threatened them. She betrayed the interests of God’s house, harming these interests and causing considerable loss of the offerings as well. During this period, did God reprimand her? (No.) She was unaware. How can we tell she was unaware? There are some facts that prove it; she could clearly see what the unbeliever was planning to do from the beginning but did not stop him, instead indulging and tacitly approving of it, continuously pouring money in. As a result, the costs ballooned, and the final work was subpar. She saw this clearly but kept sinking in more money. Did God act at this time? God didn’t. What are people’s notions and imaginings about this matter? People think that God should be responsible for His own money and should have stopped her. This is a human notion, but God didn’t act this way. After the renovation was completed and upon investigation, God’s house discovered that much of the offerings were lost. What should be done with this woman? God did nothing; the church took care of her, and another woman began to repay the money. What was the nature of her actions? As a leader, she was not only irresponsible and failed to check the expenditures of offerings but also colluded with an outsider to deceive God’s house and embezzle God’s offerings. This case is even more severe than the previous one. So what is such a person’s outcome in the eyes of God? Destruction; whether she is punished or not is a matter for the future. Such a person may one day be placed by God in a dwelling of evil spirits and filthy demons, her physical body destroyed in this life, and her soul defiled and desecrated by filthy demons and evil spirits; as for the next life, that’s too far off to speak of. This is the outcome. Why does God handle such a person in this way? Because she offended God’s disposition. Having offended God’s disposition, could God still love her? No love remains, nor compassion, nor lovingkindness—only wrath. When her actions are mentioned, God hates and detests her. Why does He detest to this extent? It’s because she knowingly committed sins despite being aware of the true way. Not only is there no more sin offering for her, but she must also face the punishment of God’s wrath. No outcome, destination, or chance at salvation—she has none of these. This is what it means to offend God’s disposition; this is what happens when one offends God’s disposition.
Tell Me, is it easy to offend God’s disposition? In reality, there aren’t that many opportunities, nor that many situations where this can happen. The opportunities are few, the chances slim; yet why can people still manage to offend God’s disposition with such scarce opportunities and low probabilities? These two women each believed in God for more than twenty years, listened to many years’ worth of sermons, and long served as leaders and workers. Why could they make such serious mistakes? From the perspective of humanity, they lacked humanity, conscience, and rationality; from the perspective of their faith in God, they didn’t possess genuine faith, they didn’t have God in their hearts. How was this absence of God in their hearts manifested? In their actions, there was no sense of fear, no bottom line; they didn’t consider, “What will happen to me after I do this? Will there be repercussions? People may not know about it, but what will happen if God knows? I must take responsibility for this matter, as it concerns my outcome.” They didn’t think about these things—isn’t that troublesome? If they didn’t think about these things, did they have conscience or reason? (No.) Thus, they were capable of offending God’s disposition, capable of making such major mistakes. If one possesses normal human thinking, they will have this mentality; when someone asks to borrow money, they would consider: “Borrow money? This is God’s money. If I lend out God’s money just to win a moment’s esteem, what if they can’t pay it back? How will I make up for this money? Even if I can, what kind of behavior is it to lend out this money? Can God’s money be touched so casually? It can’t be touched casually; if I touch it, what would the nature of this action be?” They would consider these things, and wouldn’t lend the money out on an impulse just because someone asks. If they don’t consider it, or even if they do but haven’t considered the consequences, what does that say about their view of God? How do they believe? They fundamentally do not acknowledge the existence of God, which is terrifying! Since they don’t acknowledge God’s existence, they don’t acknowledge that God will determine their outcome, and don’t acknowledge that God will mete out retribution upon them; they are not afraid of this, they don’t believe in retribution. Generally, if someone has fifty to sixty percent belief, they would act cautiously and demonstrate restraint. If they have thirty percent belief, they might also be somewhat restrained, but once the opportunity presents itself they will still go through with it; or, if the opportunities are few or not mature, they will be able to restrain and limit themselves a bit. However, those who lack any component of belief would dare to do all sorts of bad things, acting recklessly without considering the consequences; this is akin to a beast. On the surface, they appear human, but what they do is not what humans should do; at the least, it can be said they are beasts, and more seriously, they might be filthy demons and evil spirits who come to disrupt and disturb God’s work, who specialize in sabotaging the work of God. Is God’s classification of such people accurate? (Yes.) It’s extremely accurate; there’s nothing wrong in what God does, everything God does is precise. Moreover, God’s actions, God’s determination of people’s outcomes are not based on a moment’s performance. These two women believed in God for twenty years and yet somehow ended up at this point, sealing their own ends in this manner. How did this come about? It’s not something that happened overnight. From the perspective of their pursuit in faith and the path they chose, they were not people who pursued the truth; that’s one aspect. The other is that they had no interest whatsoever in the truth. If they had had even a modicum of interest, their humanity would have undergone change. And what would such change in humanity have brought them? It would mean they would act with restraint and observe boundaries, have a standard for evaluation, and gauge things with the reason and thought processes of a normal human. If they saw that doing something was inappropriate, they would abstain. However, these two women never pursued the truth; they lacked even this basic boundary and way of thinking. They dared to do anything, and it was this very nature that led them to their ruin, even to their death. This is the reason why their journey of believing in God ended in such a way.
After hearing these two cases, what are your thoughts? Some people say: “I’ve gained a lot today. I’ve obtained the highest truth, which is don’t mess with God’s things; don’t even entertain the idea, don’t go tampering with them. If you tamper with them, nothing good will come of it.” Is this really the case? Is this the truth? (No.) What matters is not whether you tamper with God’s things, but what your attitude toward God is in your heart. If you fear God and feel a sense of dread toward Him, truly believe in His existence, and genuinely consider your own end, there are things you won’t do; you won’t even think about them. Therefore, you won’t be subjected to this kind of temptation; it will never come upon you. Is fright useful? Fright is useless. What did God do while these two women were doing these things? God let things take their course, placing these two devils—these two non-humans whose hearts were not frightened of God whatsoever—into Satan’s temptation, so that they could be completely exposed and destroyed. Isn’t this God’s attitude? This is the righteous disposition of God, and it is not to be taken lightly! People make use of human means for handling others and meting out retribution toward others, reciprocating evil with evil. But God doesn’t do that; God has His own bottom line, principles, and His own ways. When God metes out retribution upon someone, He makes it so that they feel nothing; they’re unaware, but in God’s eyes, the issue has already been resolved. Years later, the subsequent suffering will surface bit by bit. After God has stripped that person of His grace, blessings, enlightenment, illumination and all the treatment that God affords to a normal human, they are thoroughly dehumanized; in God’s eyes, they are no longer a created being but a beast, they are something else entirely. God says, “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good.” Are these people good or evil? They are neither. In God’s eyes, in His records, these kinds of people have been removed; they are gone, they are non-human. What is the definition of non-human? (Brutes, beasts in human clothing.) Some may even envy them, saying, “They work and make money outside, living with unbelievers; their lives are much more comfortable than suffering in the church, performing duty from dawn to dusk.” I tell you, their days of suffering are yet to come. If you envy them, you’re welcome to emulate them; God’s house imposes no restrictions. Suffering is not limited to physical pain from illness; if one’s internal suffering reaches a certain extent, it’s indescribable, such as blows to one’s psyche, especially when subjected to God’s punishment—it’s worse than death, it’s more agonizing; it’s a kind of mental anguish. These two women ended up in such a situation because they offended God’s disposition through their reckless actions. In people’s notions, it seems that no matter what mistakes people make or what they do, as long as they can come back before God to confess and repent, God can forgive them; this would prove that God’s love is vast, that He truly loves humankind. This is a human notion, and it shows that people’s understanding of God is filled with too many imaginings and too much human will. If God were delimited by human notions, then God’s actions would be without principles and God would be without any disposition; such a God does not exist. It is precisely because God truly exists, is living and vibrant, and is undeniably and concretely real, that He has different manifestations. These manifestations are apparent in His various deeds and attitudes toward people, and they stand as evidence of His genuine existence. Some say: “These people themselves are not aware when they are being handled, so how can we see God’s existence?” Just the cases I’ve mentioned allow people to see God’s attitude and disposition, and also let people see God’s principles in doing things and handling people. Isn’t this evidence of God’s real existence? (Yes.) If this God didn’t exist, if He were really just air, then whatever He does would be without principles or boundaries; it would be undetectable, untouchable, hollow, not implemented in people’s lives, and irrelevant to people’s lives, actions, and any of their manifestations. It would only be a theory, an argument, empty talk. Precisely because this God exists, the many things He does allow people to see His attitude.
The main part of the various notions and imaginings people have about God’s work has basically been covered in our fellowship. What is the main part focused on? It’s about the various notions, imaginings, and ideas people have concerning God’s judgment and chastisement, as well as their various notions and imaginings about what constitutes dispositional change. In addition, people also have numerous imaginings about the principles behind God’s work of judgment and chastisement and the standards God requires of people. For people, these concepts are generally muddled and unclear. What does this lack of clarity represent? It means that people still do not understand the truth, nor do they understand the truths involved in the work that God is doing upon them. Through the fellowship today, do you now basically have an outline definition of judgment and chastisement, as well as the standards God requires of people? (Yes.) With this understanding, what should you do next? First of all, you need to recognize that God has such standards. Are these standards flexible? Can they be higher or lower than they actually are? (No.) Why not? From the Age of Grace up to now, we can see from those whom God has perfected that these standards are strict and well-defined; God will never change them. He didn’t change them two thousand years ago, and He hasn’t changed them up to now. It’s just that now there will be more people who are perfected because God has spoken so much. Back then, He worked on a smaller scale and didn’t explicitly tell people more truths. Now, He has told people more truths and made them aware of more of His intentions, and God has expressed all of the standards He requires and the truths for people to know. At the same time, God’s Spirit is also working in concert among people in this way. These two aspects combined prove that during this period, God intends to perfect more people—it’s a group of people, not just one or two. Judging from this information, do most of you have hopes of being perfected? Some say they are not certain, but even if we are uncertain, let’s try; it’s better to fail than to beg for mercy now. What kind of behavior is it to beg for mercy at this moment? It is cowardly, worthless, incompetent, despicable behavior, it is disgracing God. You mustn’t be cowards! The conditions and standards for being perfected have been clearly and plainly told to people; what remains is how to practice and how to cooperate with God’s work. No matter how many times you fail during this period, as long as you do not offend God’s disposition, you should not get discouraged or give up; keep striving upward. Some say their caliber is poor. Doesn’t God know that their caliber is poor? Their admission of their poor caliber is already good in God’s eyes because corrupt humankind is arrogant and self-righteous, and very few admit that their caliber is poor. Acknowledging this is a good thing, a good expression. Some talk about their experiences, realizing that their humanity is poor and bad. Why do others not have this realization? Acknowledging your poor humanity, your bad humanity, indicates that you’ve understood God’s words and linked them to yourself; it shows that you have faith in God’s work of salvation, that you have the resolve to satisfy God—at the very least, you were able to admit this truthful statement. Who among the unbelievers says they are bad now? Even when they are bad, they claim to be good; they claim their evil deeds are grand good deeds and virtuous behavior, blatantly distorting right and wrong. Therefore, no matter what setbacks you encounter, no matter what failures or stumbles, you must be able to see that hope lies ahead. Who is ahead? It is God! With God’s words guiding and leading, people can embark on the right path.
Today, three case studies were fellowshiped, clarifying people’s various notions and imaginings about God’s work. Did you all understand what was conveyed? (Yes.) Your ability to understand demonstrates that you possess the caliber and faculties to accept the truth—there is hope for you to understand and obtain the truth. Why can’t these truths be explained clearly in just one or two hours, or two or three hours? It’s because a lot of preliminary content must be laid out in order to talk about the details that follow. Without laying some groundwork beforehand, you won’t be able to keep up with the subsequent content. If I were to speak concisely without any preliminary content, it would be difficult for you to follow. So I talk about some examples, then discuss them from both positive and negative perspectives to help you understand and discern, know what exactly is going on with these matters, and how one should purely comprehend them. If you can achieve this, then My speaking has not been in vain. From the moment you begin to have some concept of these truths upon hearing them, to a point where you have a thorough understanding, where you realize from deep within your heart why God says these things, which part of your own corrupt disposition is involved in these truths spoken by God, and why God wants to tell you these things, a certain stage is required to reach this level of understanding. You need to link these truths with your own corrupt disposition, speech, behavior, thoughts, and ideas—that is, apply them to your actual situation—and, unconsciously, you will gradually come to understand and grasp these truths. If you don’t compare them to your own case, but take notes today, review and memorize them tomorrow, and then proclaim them to those who have never heard them, you might think you have obtained them, but you actually haven’t. From the day you can spout doctrines, these truths are no longer truths for you, and it becomes difficult for you to grasp the truth, as if the truth has completely disappeared. Once the truth turns into mere doctrine for you, it becomes difficult for it to produce effects on you. You have to turn the truth into your own reality, gradually implement the practical aspect of each truth on yourself by means of seeking and fellowship, and finally come to understand which states this truth includes, and what it encompasses, to understand the intentions behind God saying these words. This is the beginning of understanding the truth. What do you understand now? (Doctrines.) When people first come into contact with the truth, what they understand is a kind of doctrine. However, understanding doctrine is not simple; it also requires a certain caliber and ability to comprehend. It also requires you to have a quiet and focused heart, so you can listen to sermons with undivided attention. I have found that some people, when listening to sermons, think, “What You’re talking about is worthless, I’m not willing to listen. I want to listen to sermons, not hear about events.” They believe that it’s right and wrong that I’m talking about. Because they carry this viewpoint, they can’t take in what they hear; they get drowsy, can’t understand, and can’t keep up. Such people don’t possess the ability to comprehend the truth; their caliber is lacking. Some who call themselves spiritual, when they hear Me recounting stories, are unwilling to listen. They drink water or yawn, and are always fidgeting. They think, “The stories You’re telling are about external matters; it’s too shallow, I can’t take it in. You should talk more about the spiritual world; that would suit my taste.” This is the exact attitude some people have. When they’ve acted as a leader for many years, they like to talk about lofty sermons, grand theories, and words of the third heaven; the more they talk, the more enthusiastic they get. But if we talk about matters in the church, practical experiences, or especially dissecting the dynamics of the human psyche, they always find it shallow and boring. What kind of disposition is this? Do these people have the truth reality? Can such people solve real problems in their work? Do you like such people? Fellowshiping the truth cannot be detached from reality. Can people who aren’t interested in the reality love the truth? I don’t think so; such people are sick of the truth, and that’s very dangerous.
November 8, 2018