24. The Principles of Seeking the Truth
(1) When one encounters difficulties in God’s words, they should pray to God and seek the truth. Moreover, they must contemplate God’s words often, and focus on searching for an answer in His words;
(2) One must not accept blindly the words of any person, but should instead exercise discernment by holding them up against God’s words. Only that which has a basis in God’s words accords with the truth;
(3) In addition to reading God’s words, focus on listening to the sermons and fellowship of God’s house. Only that which comes from the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit accords with the truth;
(4) To understand doctrine is not to understand the truth. The truth is life; it is reality and, more than that, it is principle. Only that which is confirmed by experience accords with the truth.
Relevant Words of God:
If you want to grow in life, you must seek the truth in everything. No matter what you are doing, you should seek out how to behave in order to be in line with the truth, and discover what taints exist within you that violate it; you must have a clear understanding of these things. Regardless of what you are doing, you should consider whether or not it has value. You can do things that have meaning, but you must not do things that have no meaning. With regard to things that you could either do or not do, if they can be let go, then you should let them go. Otherwise, if you do these things for some time and later find that you should let them go, then make a swift decision and let them go quickly. This is the principle you should follow in everything you do. Some people raise this question: Why is seeking the truth and putting it into practice so very difficult—as though you were rowing a boat against the current, and would drift backward if you stopped rowing forward? Why is it actually much easier to do evil or meaningless things—as easy as taking a boat downstream? Why is it like that? It is because humanity’s nature is to betray God. Satan’s nature has taken a dominant role within humans, and this is a reactionary force. Humans with a nature that betrays God are, of course, very liable to do things that betray Him, and positive actions are naturally difficult for them to perform. This is decided entirely by humanity’s nature essence. Once you really understand the truth and begin to love it from within yourself, you will have strength to do things that conform to the truth. This then becomes normal, and even effortless and pleasant, and you feel that doing anything negative would require a great amount of effort. This is because the truth has taken a dominant role in your heart. If you really understand the truth about human life and about what kind of person to be—how to be an aboveboard and straightforward person, an honest person, someone who bears witness for God and serves Him—then you will never again be able to commit evil acts that defy Him, nor will you ever play the role of a false leader, a false worker, or an antichrist. Even if Satan deceives you, or someone evil eggs you on, you will not do it; no matter who tries to coerce you, you still will not act that way. If people gain the truth and the truth becomes their life, they become able to loathe evil and to feel an internal disgust for negative things. It would be difficult for them to commit evil, because their life dispositions have changed and they have been perfected by God.
Excerpted from “Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Right now, God does the work of judgment of the last days, and has expressed many words. On the path of faith in God, we have encountered much that relates to the truth. If we do not seek the truth, then there is no path, so we must have knowledge of the truth, and when we read God’s words, we must combine them into reality. All of God’s words are the truth and must be personally experienced. From the time people are born to when they become adults, begin working, start a family, and establish a career, throughout their entire lives—including the people, events, and things they encounter, and everything else that happens to them—there is nothing that touches upon the truth, much less anything that they perceive through the truth. As such, each and every person is a stranger to the truth. And it is precisely because we all lack the truth that, starting from today, we must pursue the truth; this is imperative. If you have yet to realize that when you believe in God you must pursue the truth, and that only the truth can change you, perfect you, save you, and truly bring you before God, then the truth can hold no interest for you, and you are therefore incapable of pursuing it. Some people say, “It’s enough that in my faith in God, I don’t hesitate to eat and drink the words of God, to lead the life of the church, to perform my duty, and to preach the gospel—so why do I also need to pursue the truth? I never normally commit sin or resist God, nor am I an antichrist. I shun the wicked. I just need a few simple rules to guide and help me, that’s all; I don’t need to pursue any abstruse truths.” Is this the right way of looking at things? (No.) Why not? (Because people can only be saved by God once they have gained the truth.) Right now there are some people who possess a vague awareness of just how important the truth is to their salvation, and that is a good thing. However, whether this awareness can take root depends on how you subsequently pursue the truth. Pursuing the truth is very important. For example, when you are negative and weak, can you become strong without the support and provision of the truth? Are you able to overcome your weakness? Are you able to realize why you have been negative and weak? Definitely not. When you are slipshod and perfunctory whilst performing your duty, are you able to fix this aspect of your corruption without seeking the truth? Are you capable of loyalty to God? Can people know themselves and address their corrupt dispositions if they do not seek the truth? No. When people constantly have notions about God, and are always measuring Him against their own notions and imaginings, can such things be resolved without the truth? They cannot. In much of what we encounter—including matters in our everyday lives—if we do not possess the truth, do not seek the truth, and, moreover, do not understand the truth, and if we are ignorant of what God says about such things and of His will, then how will we approach what happens to us? Those who are a little better may try to find a solution using the words, phrases, and rules with which they are familiar, or by using human methods, but can these take the place of the truth in resolving their problems? If we do not seek the truth, it can be said that nothing in our lives has any principle, nor do we have a path to practice, much less do we have any objective or direction. If this is the case, then everything we do opposes and betrays God. Thus, does He not then despise and curse everything we do? Will our actions not be judged and chastised by Him? It is therefore likely that before genuinely understanding the truth, every person will encounter some of God’s judgment, chastisement, chastening, and disciplining—the purpose of all of which is to make people gain the truth.
Excerpted from “The Importance of Pursuing the Truth and the Path of Pursuing It” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
It is important to seek the truth. If you seek the truth, what you gain will certainly be truth; if you do not seek the truth, but always speak of human justifications, what you will gain in the end is a misunderstanding of God. These are the two paths. You constantly call attention to your justifications, saying, “I’ve done work and I haven’t done anything bad, and I don’t mind that You haven’t praised me or given me a reward, but You deal with me sternly, and You judge me and refine me. Where is God’s love? Why haven’t I seen it? Everyone says God loves people, so how come He loves everyone else except for me?” All your resentment comes out. Can a person in such a state gain the truth? (No.) A problem has arisen in man’s relationship with God, and whenever a problem arises, man does not turn back, nor does he let go of his erroneous thoughts and perspectives, fallacies, or biased ways of thinking, but insists instead on opposing God. This can only result in God’s abandonment of you and your abandonment of God. You are full of resentment for God; you deny His sovereignty and condemn it, you are unwilling to submit to it, and you are unwilling to submit to His arrangements. More serious still, you will deny that God is right, that He is truth—this is the consequence. If you seek the truth, however, you will not only verify that the God you believe in is the truth, the way, the life, and love, but you will also confirm that what God does is right, that He is right to refine people. Because man has a corrupt disposition, and all his deeds and behaviors and all that he reveals are hostile to God, he is unworthy of God’s love. However, God still has such care and concern for man, and He arranges an environment for man in which to try him and refine him personally, enabling him to undergo change; He allows man, by means of this environment, to be equipped with truth, and to gain the truth. God loves man so much, with a love that is so real, and God is nothing but faithful. You will feel it. If God did not do these things, then none could say how far man would have fallen! Man tries to manage his own status, his own fame and fortune, and, in the end, after having done all these things, he wins others to his side and brings them before him—is this not in opposition to God? The consequences of continuing on in this way do not bear imagining! God does an excellent job, putting a stop to all this in time! Though what God does exposes man and judges him, it also saves him. This is real love. When you have realized this for yourself, will you not then have gained this aspect of the truth? When a person has realized this for themselves and reached this understanding, and when they have understood these truths, do they still feel resentment for God? No—it is gone, and, with total devotion, having been convinced utterly, they submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. The next time they face such a situation, they will realize that all God does is correct and what man does is certainly wrong, and that man is rebellious, but does not possess the truth. Very quickly, they will settle into submission. Those who can achieve this undergo many rounds of refinement to arrive at this point.
Excerpted from “The Most Important Part of Believing in God Is Putting the Truth Into Practice” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Is your understanding of truth integrated with your own states? In real life, you first have to think of which truths relate to the people, events, and things you have encountered; it is among these truths that you can find God’s will and connect what you have encountered with His will. If you do not know which aspects of the truth relate to the things you have encountered but instead go directly to seek God’s will, this is a blind approach which cannot achieve results. If you want to seek the truth and understand God’s will, first you need to look at what kind of things have happened to you, which aspects of the truth they are related to, and look for the specific truth in the word of God that relates to what you have experienced. Then you look for the path of practice that is right for you in that truth; in this way you can gain an indirect understanding of God’s will. Searching for and practicing the truth is not mechanically applying a doctrine or following a formula. The truth is not formulaic, neither is it a law. It is not dead—it is life itself, it is a living thing, and it is the rule that a created being must follow in life and the rule a human must have in life. This is something that you must, as much as possible, understand through experience. No matter what stage you have arrived at in your experience, you are inseparable from God’s word or the truth, and what you understand of God’s disposition and what you know of what God has and is are all expressed in God’s words; they are inextricably linked with the truth. God’s disposition and what He has and is are, in themselves, the truth; the truth is an authentic manifestation of God’s disposition and what He has and is. It makes what He has and is concrete, and it makes a clear statement of what He has and is; it tells you more straightforwardly what God likes, what He does not like, what He wants you to do and what He does not permit you to do, which people He despises and which people He delights in. Behind the truths that God expresses, people can see His pleasure, anger, sorrow, and happiness, as well as His essence—this is the revealing of His disposition. Aside from knowing what God has and is, and understanding His disposition from His word, what is most important is the need to reach this understanding through practical experience. If a person removes themselves from real life in order to know God, they will not be able to achieve that. Even if there are people who can gain some understanding from the word of God, their understanding is limited to theories and words, and there arises a disparity with what God Himself is really like.
Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If you want to put the truth into practice, and if you want to understand it, then first you must understand the essence of the difficulties you face and the things that happen around you, what the problems with these issues are, as well as what aspect of the truth these are related to. You must seek these things, and, afterward, you must seek the truth based on your actual difficulties. That way, as you gradually gain experience, you will be able to see the hand of God in everything that happens to you, as well as what He wants to do and the results that He wishes to achieve in you. Perhaps you never feel that anything that happens to you is connected to belief in God and the truth, and simply say to yourself, “I have my own way of dealing with this; I don’t need the truth or the words of God. When I attend gatherings, or when I read the words of God, or when I perform my duty, I’ll check myself against the truth and against God’s words.” If the everyday things that happen in your life—things to do with family, work, marriage, and your future—if you feel these various things have nothing to do with the truth, and you solve them using human methods, if this is the way you experience, then you will never gain the truth; you will never understand just what God wishes to do in you or the results He wishes to achieve. Pursuing the truth is a lengthy process. There is a simple side to it, and there is also a complex side. Simply put, we should seek the truth and practice and experience God’s words in everything that happens around us. Once you begin to do this, you will see more and more how much truth you should gain and pursue in your belief in God, and that truth is so real and truth is life. It is not true that only those who serve God and the church’s leaders are required to do everything according to the truth, while ordinary followers are not; if that were so, then there would be no great significance in the words expressed by God. Do you now have a path to pursue the truth? What is the first thing that must be addressed when pursuing the truth? Before all else, you must spend more time eating and drinking the words of God and listening to fellowships. When you encounter an issue, pray and seek more. When you have equipped yourselves with more truths, and have achieved life entry, and possess stature, you will be able to do something real, undertake a little work, and will thereby be able to make it through some trials and temptations. At that time, you will feel that you really have understood and gained some truths, and you will sense that the words spoken by God are what people need, as well as what they ought to gain, and that this is the only truth in the world that can give people life.
Excerpted from “The Importance of Pursuing the Truth and the Path of Pursuing It” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
No matter what you do, you should first understand why you are doing it, what intention it is that directs you to do this thing, what the significance is in your doing it, what the nature of the matter is, and whether what you are doing is a positive thing or a negative thing. You must have a clear understanding of all these matters; this is quite necessary to be able to act with principle. If you are doing something to fulfill your duty, then you should ponder: How should I do this? How should I fulfill my duty well so that I am not just doing it perfunctorily? You should draw close to God in this matter. Drawing close to God means seeking the truth in this matter, seeking the way to practice, seeking the will of God, and seeking how to satisfy God. This is how to draw close to God in everything you do. It does not involve performing a religious ceremony or an outward action. It is done for the purpose of practicing in accordance with the truth after seeking God’s will. If you always say “Thank God” when you have not done anything, but then when you are doing something, you continue to do it the way you want, then this type of thanks is just an outward action. When fulfilling your duty or working on something, you should always think: How should I fulfill this duty? What is God’s will? It is for you to draw close to God through what you do, and, in doing so, to seek the principles and truth behind your actions as well as God’s will, and not stray from God in anything that you do. Only such a person truly believes in God. These days, whenever people come across things, regardless of what the actual situation is, they think they can do this and that, so they do not have God in their hearts, and they do it according to their own will. Regardless of whether their course of action is suitable or not, or whether it is in accordance with the truth or not, they just stubbornly press on, and act according to their personal intentions. It might usually seem that God is in their hearts, but when they do things, God is not in their hearts. Some people say, “I can’t draw close to God in the things I do. In the past, I was accustomed to performing religious ceremonies, and I tried to draw close to God, but it was to no effect. I could not draw near to Him.” Such people do not have God in their hearts; they only have themselves in their hearts, and they simply cannot put truth into practice in anything they do. Not acting in accordance with truth means doing things according to their own will, and doing things according to their own will means leaving God; that is, they do not have God in their hearts. Human ideas usually look good and right to people, and they appear as though they would not violate the truth very much. People feel that doing things in such a manner would be putting truth into practice; they feel that doing things that way would be submitting to God. Actually, they are not truly seeking God or praying to God about it, and they are not striving to do it well, in accordance with God’s requirements, in order to satisfy His will. They do not possess this true state, nor do they have such a desire. This is the greatest mistake people make in their practice. You believe in God, but you do not keep God in your heart. How is this not a sin? Are you not deceiving yourself? What sort of effects can you reap if you keep believing that way? Moreover, how can the significance of belief be manifested?
When you did a certain thing, God was very dissatisfied. When you were about to do that thing, did you pray to Him? Did you ever ponder, “How would this matter be viewed by God if it were brought before Him? Would He be happy or irritated if He knew about it? Would He detest it?” You did not seek it out, did you? Even if others reminded you, you would still think that the matter was no big deal, and that it did not run against any principles and was not a sin. As a result, this thing you did offended God’s disposition and provoked Him to great anger, even to the point of His despising you. If you had sought and examined, and seen the matter clearly before acting, would you then not have gotten a handle over it? Even though sometimes people are not in a good state, if they solemnly take everything they are planning on doing before God for investigation and seeking, they will not make any major mistakes. When practicing the truth, it is hard for people to avoid making mistakes, but if you know how to do things in accordance with the truth when you do them, yet you do not carry them out in accordance with truth, then the problem is that you have no love for the truth. The disposition of a person without love for the truth will not be changed. If you cannot accurately grasp God’s will, and do not know how to practice, then you should fellowship with others. If no one feels like they can see the matter clearly, then you should carry out the most reasonable solution. However, if you ultimately discover that in carrying it out this way you have made a slight error, then you should quickly correct it, and then God will not count this error as a sin. Because you had the right intentions when putting this matter into practice, and you were practicing in accordance with the truth and simply did not see it clearly, and your actions resulted in some errors, then this was an extenuating circumstance. However, nowadays many people merely rely on their own two hands to work and on their own minds to do this and that, and they seldom give any consideration to these questions: Does practicing this way conform to God’s will? Would God be happy if I did it this way? Would God trust me if I did it this way? Would I be putting the truth into practice if I did it this way? If God hears of this matter, would He be able to say, “You have done this correctly and suitably. Keep it up”? Are you able to carefully examine every matter you encounter? Can you be serious and meticulous about each of them? Or are you able to ponder whether God despises the way you are doing it, how everyone else feels about your methods, and whether you are doing it based on your own will or to satisfy your own desires…? You have to put more thought into it and seek more, and your mistakes will become smaller and smaller. Doing things in this manner will prove that you are a person who genuinely seeks the truth and that you are one who reveres God, because you are doing things in accordance with the direction that the truth requires.
Excerpted from “Seeking God’s Will Is for the Sake of Practicing the Truth” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
In order to do anything well, it is necessary to seek out truth principle. One should think single-mindedly of how to do something well while doing it, and it is necessary to quiet oneself to pray and seek before God. Before doing something, it is necessary to fellowship with others, and if there is no one to fellowship with, one must contemplate the matter on one’s own, and seek and pray for the way to do this thing well. This is what it is to quiet oneself before God. You do not need to think of nothing to be quiet before God; you must act and contemplate at the same time, seeking the appropriate way to handle this matter with an attitude of seeking and waiting in your heart. If you have not the slightest idea about the matter, find someone to ask. With what attitude should you ask them? You should, in fact, be seeking and waiting, watching for how God works. The Holy Spirit does not enlighten and guide you as if He were turning on a light that illuminates you within all at once. God invariably uses a person or an event to prompt your understanding. There are many ways of seeking beyond kneeling gravely down to pray and staying there for hours; doing that delays all other matters. At times, one might ponder a matter while walking along; at times, when a matter arises, one might hurry to fellowship about it as a group; at times, one might seek the Above; at times, one might read God’s words by oneself; at times, when a matter is urgent, one might rush to the scene to understand the reality of the situation, then handle it first according to principles that you currently grasp, while praying and seeking in your heart. This is the way you must do things—the skillful way! It will not do to grow nervous whenever something comes up. You must learn several ways of seeking: When you are busy with duty, seek according to how busy you are; when you have time, seek and wait according to the circumstances of having time. There are different ways. If there is time enough to wait, then wait a while. One cannot be hasty in big matters; the consequences of making a mistake in haste would be unthinkable. To achieve the best results, one must wait, watching what happens next, or else you will be prompted by someone with knowledge of the situation. These are all ways to seek. God does not use a single method to enlighten people; neither in His words alone does He enlighten you, nor does He always have those around you give you guidance. How does God enlighten you about matters outside your expertise, things which you have never come across before? He uses certain people, ones who understand the sort of matter at hand. You hurry to find them, you get a few pointers from them, then you do the thing according to principles, and God will guide you while you do it. Yet you must understand a bit about the professional skills or specialty at hand, and have some concept of it; it is upon this foundation that God will enlighten you as to what you should do.
Excerpted from God’s Fellowship
You should seek God’s will in all things, and you must seek the truth in all things. For example: How do you seek the truth in such matters as food, clothing, and personal matters? Are there truths to seek in these things? Some say, “No matter what, it is good to eat well and to dress well; eating or dressing poorly will cause a person to lose out.” Is there truth in this view? Is it vital to eat well and dress well in life? Absolutely not. Put another way, if someone is genuinely able to know God and possess the truth, then in everything that person does, he is bearing testimony to God and satisfying God. No matter how awfully such a person eats or dresses, there is still value in his living, and he can gain God’s approval—is that not the most meaningful thing? Whatever kinds of clothes a person wears are absolutely not of primary importance; wearing nice clothes does not guarantee that you will be blessed. You will still be cursed if you take the wrong path, whereas a person wearing shabby clothes but who has gained the truth will be blessed by God all the same. Therefore, there is truth to seek in how you should regard the matters of food and clothing, and there is even more truth to seek in how you should treat performing your duty. How you regard God’s commissions is a very serious matter! If you cannot complete what God has entrusted to you, then you are not fit to live in His presence and should be punished. It is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth that humans should complete whatever commissions God entrusts to them; this is their supreme responsibility, and is just as important as their very lives. If you do not take God’s commissions seriously, then you are betraying Him in the most grievous way; in this, you are more lamentable than Judas, and should be cursed. People must gain a thorough understanding of how to view what God entrusts to them and, at the very least, must comprehend that the commissions He entrusts to humanity are exaltations and special favors from God; they are most glorious things. Everything else can be abandoned; even if one must sacrifice one’s own life, he must still fulfill God’s commission. Is there not truth to be sought here? Achieving change in your disposition is intimately linked with seeking the truth! If you understand the truth of why people live, and of how you should view life, then will your view of life not be changed? Even more so, there is truth to be sought here. What truths are there in loving God? Why must humans love Him? What is the significance of loving Him? If a person has a clear understanding of the truth of loving God, and can love Him deep down—even if this person holds a little love for God in his heart—then he has a genuine life and is among the most blessed. Those who seek the truth in all things progress in life the fastest, and can achieve a transformation of disposition. It is precisely those who seek truth in all things whom God loves. If a person relies on notions and doctrines or obeys rules in all things, then he will not progress; he will never gain the truth, and sooner or later he will be eliminated, and God most despises this kind of person.
Excerpted from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
If a believer’s actions are out of touch with the truth, then he is the same as an unbeliever. This is the type of person who does not have God in his heart, and who leaves God, and such a person is like a hired worker in God’s family who does some odd jobs for his master, receives a little compensation, and then leaves. This is simply not a person who believes in God. Previously, there was mention of what you can do to gain God’s approval. Approval from God is the first thing you should think about and work for; it should be the principle and scope of your practice. The reason you should determine whether what you are doing is in line with the truth is that if it is in line with the truth, then it certainly conforms with God’s will. It is not that you should measure whether the matter is right or wrong, or if it accords with everyone else’s tastes, or if it is in line with your own desires; rather, you should determine whether it is in accordance with the truth, and whether or not it benefits the work and interests of the church. If you give consideration to these things, then you will be more and more in line with God’s will when you do things. If you do not consider these aspects, and merely rely on your own will when doing things, then you are guaranteed to do them incorrectly, because the will of man is not the truth and, of course, is incompatible with God. If you wish to be approved by God, then you must practice according to the truth rather than according to your own will. Some people engage in certain private matters in the name of fulfilling their duties. Their brothers and sisters then see this as inappropriate, and reproach them for it, but these people do not accept the blame. They think that because it was a personal matter that did not involve the church’s work, finances, or people, it therefore does not count as violating the scope of the truth, and God should not interfere in this matter. Some things might seem to you to be private matters that do not involve any principle or truth. However, looking at the thing you did, you were being very selfish in that you gave no consideration to the work of God’s family or how what you did would affect it; you were only considering your own benefit. This already involves the propriety of the saints, as well as issues to do with a person’s humanity. Even though what you were doing did not involve the interests of the church, nor did it involve the truth, engaging in a private matter while claiming to be performing your duty is not in line with the truth. Regardless of what you are doing, how big or small a matter is, and whether you are doing it to fulfill your duty in God’s family or for your own private reasons, you must consider whether what you are doing conforms with God’s will, as well as whether it is something that a person with humanity should do. If you seek the truth like that in everything you do, then you are a person who truly believes in God. If you devoutly treat every matter and every truth in this way, then you will be able to achieve changes in your disposition. Some people think that when they are doing something personal, they can just ignore the truth, do it as they wish, and do it in whatever way makes them happy and in whatever manner is advantageous to them. They do not give the slightest consideration to how it might affect God’s family, nor do they consider whether or not what they are doing befits saintly propriety. Finally, once they are finished with the matter, they grow dark inside and feel uncomfortable, though they do not know why. Is this retribution not deserved? If you do things that are not approved by God, then you have offended God. If someone does not love the truth, and frequently does things based on their own will, then they will frequently offend God. Such people are ordinarily not approved by God in what they do, and if they do not repent, then punishment will not be very far off.
Excerpted from “Seeking God’s Will Is for the Sake of Practicing the Truth” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days