Chapter 19. Sermons and Fellowship About God’s Word “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” (XIX)

Only by Abiding by God’s Three Admonishments for Man Can We Ensure That We Do Not Offend God’s Disposition

It is very important to know the specific content of these three admonishments, what is included in each of them, what they refer to, and how to abide by them. The first is “do not test God.” What does this refer to? What can we do to ensure that we don’t test God? If you can sense truth in this sentence, then you have sensed a miracle, you have sensed a principle of practice. If you have sensed truth here, a path for entry into life, then you have gained something. “Do not test God” is a critically important concept. In what circumstances do people test God? At times when people most need God, yet they cannot see God, cannot find God, and cannot feel God, they become hopeless and confused, and this is the moment when people feel the desire to test God. First, people suspect whether God even exists, and ask, “I call for God, and God does not answer, I wish to see God but can’t, I wish to seek and receive God’s help yet have no path, so, is there a God?” This suspicion produces various kinds of actions, and the majority of these are undoubtedly testing. Now are we clear on how testing comes about? When we don’t need God, do we test God? (No.) When we most need God, when we urgently need help and rescue, if we truly cannot see or feel God, these are the times we test God. How do we test God? Testing is itself a kind of doubt, a suspicion of whether God really exists. Some people write themselves off as hopeless, act recklessly, and say, “I don’t know whether God is real, but I’m doing this anyway, and whatever happens can just happen!” This is one kind of test. Another is, “I can’t bear suffering, so I’d rather just die and end it!” This is another test, which implies, “If God prevents my death, then I’ll live, but if not, I’ll die!” This is gambling one’s own life to see if God exists. Another kind of test is to directly say, “God, if You exist, this will happen; if You don’t exist, that will happen.” This is essentially divining, and this is also a form of testing. And some people directly say, “I won’t believe anymore, now let’s see if God exists or not.” Isn’t that also a form of testing? Still others say, “God, if You exist, stop me. If You stop me from not believing, then You exist.” That test is even more dangerous. These are various forms of testing God. But against what backdrop do these four kinds of tests appear in people? When people are hopeless and begin to doubt God, they begin to test God. When people don’t need God, they believe in God’s existence, they don’t seek verification of whether God exists or not, and it makes no difference to them whether they can see God or not. God is in heaven, and they couldn’t see Him anyway, so why not act and believe as though He exists? It’s a safe, reliable way to believe, and they feel no doubts in their hearts. But when they need God to rescue them and can’t see Him, when they pray to God and receive no answer, in their endless frustration they begin to doubt God’s existence, and once that doubt is produced, they begin to do things to test God. This is how testing God happens.

Now let us look at whether Job tested God when he was at his most hopeless. How did he behave? He did not speak. He had thoughts, but he never spoke about what he did not understand. When his three friends came, in the beginning, he didn’t speak. What does this fact show us about Job? That he had a heart that feared God. He would not speak lightly of things he did not understand clearly. He was not someone to speak carelessly, and when he did speak, it was with true knowledge. His words carried reality. Was it because Job was a skilled speaker that he didn’t speak carelessly? No, he had a heart that feared God. It was his heart that was good and right. For days he did not speak of matters he didn’t understand clearly. In the midst of a heavy trial, he did not speak carelessly. He thought, “I have believed in God for many years, and never experienced anything like this, I lack penetration into what’s going on, I don’t know why these things are happening to me, so what can I say? There’s nothing I can say. I don’t know what to say, so I mustn’t speak carelessly.” For those several days, Job did nothing but think, “What’s happening? Why is God taking things away from me? If God is taking things away from me, why did a band of robbers come? Would God use robbery to take things away from me? Is using robbery to take things away something God approves of? Yes, God approves of this. But why doesn’t God tell me? Oh, because there’s no need. God doesn’t tell man these things, and I am unworthy to demand it. God works in secret, and speaks through His actions, rather than telling people with words. God in the past never told me, ‘In the future, you will be blessed by God, you will receive great worldly wealth,’ but I gained it anyway. And now God has stripped it all away, and He didn’t tell me either. Yes, God does things in secret. But these robbers stole my things, so what is happening? Is this a trial, just as Abraham was tried?” Weren’t these the things going through Job’s mind? He would have been thinking and wondering constantly. How long do you think people usually wonder and ponder about large matters? It usually takes three days for ordinary matters. Three days have to pass. We have to sleep on it before we can take a different view of things, and we have to sleep on it again to see the matter more clearly. Typically, after three days, we understand much more, but it takes at least three days. Someone might ask, “Does pondering about any matter take three days?” That depends: Pondering about a large matter can take half a year, and matters involving the truth can’t be fully experienced within half a year. Some things also require undergoing many processes, processes that must be experienced, and once processes that must be experienced are involved the time required becomes long, maybe half a year or a whole year, possibly even three or five years. Dispositional change requires a lifetime of experience. Even for simple matters, it takes a minimum of 3-5 days. In matters concerning the truth, what can we do if our experience is shallow? If we find people with deeper experience, people who understand the truth, and fellowship with them, we can shine more light upon our problems and gain a clearer understanding of them. Merely relying on the experience and knowledge of a single person may be sufficient in small matters, but not in large matters. Just now we discussed not testing God, and we saw Job pondered the matter for several days without complaint, without doubting God, and without doubting God’s existence. Job had never seen God, he had only heard of God’s existence, yet based on the testimony of the historical prophets, he believed in God 100% and never doubted God. Instead he said, “Although Satan stole what God granted me, I will not doubt God’s existence,” which is why Job did not test God. Is there not a direct relationship between testing God and doubting God? Man is likely to do things to test God when he doubts God. The test is a challenge to God. Man says, “Do You exist or not? I’m writing myself off as hopeless and acting recklessly, let’s see if You take responsibility! Let’s see what You say now!” This is challenging God, declaring your power against God, and protesting God. God works in secret, keeping Himself concealed so that we never see Him externally, but God is always working, always doing things behind the scenes in a way that we can feel, isn’t that the case? (Yes.) God does so many things all around us. The more you understand the spiritual matters, the more you can feel it. By the same principle, the less you understand the spiritual matters, the less you can feel it. Those who understand the spiritual matters have knowledge of God even after believing for a short period of time. Such a person might say, “When I had believed in God for only a year, I could feel the Holy Spirit’s work, and it was a kind of enjoyment! Based on the Holy Spirit’s work, I was able to feel the existence of God, that God truly exists, because I could feel it in my spirit. Even though I can’t see God, I believe 100% that God lives in my heart, that God works beside me, and that God manages everything about me!” And isn’t that faith? At times God protects you, and your faith is strong. At other times disaster befalls you. Do you doubt God at such times? “When I give you grace, give you enjoyment, and protect you, you admit God exists, but now I will let Satan pillage you and attack you, superficially I will seem to not protect you, and I’ll see whether or not you admit My existence, or whether you even deny My existence.” What is happening here? God is testing your faith. If your faith is sincere, you will not test God, but if you lack faith, you will test God, and that would be dangerous.

When God does some things that accord with your notions, only giving you grace and blessings, you will say God is good, that God is love, and that God is real. But if God does things to you that don’t seem to accord with your notions, if God makes you undergo trials, such as makes your interests suffer, or causes you to be humiliated and libeled, or causes you to be arrested, tortured, and tormented, will you still say that God is love? This is a trial, a revelation to see whether you truly have knowledge of God. Can we call this love? People who only pursue grace will say, “This isn’t love, it’s hatred!” Wrong! Such people have no capability of understanding. Those who understand the truth and have experience will say, “This is an even greater love. This is how God perfects our faith and makes us know His righteous disposition. This is how God teaches us, makes us mature in life, and gives us true knowledge of Him.” Do you see? Don’t those with life experience and understanding of the truth have even stronger faith in God? Is experiencing God’s work easy? Is it better to experience trials or better to always live in grace? Which is the greater love? People cannot grow or mature in life through enjoying God’s grace alone. Only by experiencing judgment and chastisement, as well as trials and refinement, can we grow in life and truly know God, and this is why these things are God’s greater love for us, God’s deepest and most sincere love. This is the love that perfects man. Grace is a lesser kind of love. So, which kind of love have you received from God? Some people, even now, cannot forsake everything and expend for God. Will such people ever experience God’s love through His various trials and refinements? Such people will not be perfected by God. You’ll see that such people demand a price for expending for God, “You have to give me a wage, You have to resolve my problems. I still have a husband (wife) and children who can’t get along in life, so You have to ensure that my entire family lives just as well as other worldly people before I will expend for You.” God answers, “I will not bother you. Go home and live out your days. I will not perfect you.” Such people test God and make demands of God for expending for Him. Do they possess any sense? They have none at all, and God does not perfect such people. This is why, in such people, you see no pruning and dealing, you see no trials or refinement, and you see none of God’s discipline and punishment. Such people have not gained God’s genuine love, they are not being perfected, and they do not walk the path of Peter. When trials came to Job, he did not test God. Instead, he created beautiful, resonant testimony. He did not doubt God or test God. Here is what Job accomplished: First, he did not write himself as hopeless and act recklessly; second, he did not complain; third, he did not deny God; fourth, he said that Jehovah’s name was worth glorifying, and that God should be praised. Job’s testimony proves that he was someone who feared God and remained far away from evil. Job did not commit any wickedness or complain at all during his trials, and in fact glorified God’s name, which proves his faith could not be more sincere. I especially admire Job, I especially approve of him, because his humanity was so much better than ours. He had never heard the sermons we’ve heard today, and if he had, he would be that more impressive, that much more beyond us. We are far below where he was. When trials come to some people, they begin to doubt God, and once a person begins to doubt God, all kinds of negative expressions appear. First, he begins to complain. In fact the most severe type of negativity is complaints. Second, their language becomes insolent. What does “insolent” refer to here? “God is unfair! God, open Your blind eyes and look around, You do nothing here! God, why don’t You listen to my prayers?” What kind of language is this? This is complaining against God, resisting God, and accusing God, all of which are testing God. Some people say, “God doesn’t listen to my prayers, so what’s the point in believing? I don’t believe anymore.” They deny and betray God. Some outright refuse to perform their duties, saying, “Fulfilling my duties hasn’t gained me anything, so I’ll return to the world, earn some money, and enjoy my time.” All of this is testing God. Some people bear too much suffering and say, “I’ll just die and end this, and then I’ll see if there’s a God or not.” Tests of God are doubts and denials of God, failures of belief in God. Doesn’t testing God stand in direct opposition to testimony of God? (It does.) Testing God is a negative thing, but testifying to God is a positive thing. Without testimony, all you do is testing God, which reveals that your faith in God is not sincere. When someone encounters problems, if he has no genuine faith or ability to suffer for God, is he responsible? Does he have humanity? When I deal with someone, how does he answer? “Are you really the man used by the Holy Spirit? Is this the manner of the man used by the Holy Spirit? Does the man used by the Holy Spirit speak so harshly?” How do you think the man used by the Holy Spirit ought to behave? Should he speak sweet, consoling words and never offend you? That is your own notion, your own image of the man used by the Holy Spirit. In fact, I am nothing like that. My manner is not decided by your imagination, nor is it decided by what you say I ought or ought not to be. No matter what you say, I will continue being what I am, doing my work, and fulfilling my duty. Aren’t those who test God people who offend God’s disposition? To test God is nothing less than to offend His disposition. This is something we all must understand. No matter what method you use to test Him, you offend His disposition, and your tests are proof that you do not fear God and have failed in your faith.

The second admonishment is “do not contend for status with God.” What manner of man are the people who believe in God, but never pursue the truth and always strive for status? Those who always strive for status, those who always rack their brains and devote all their effort to status, are antichrists. Antichrists are thick-skinned and shameless. No matter how many years such a person believes in God, from start to finish he contends only for fame and status, his striving for fame and status is ceaseless, and once he has status, he works only to further and protect his reputation and status, and to gain higher reputation and status. He not only seeks to gain status in the church, he seeks to gain crowns and blessings in heaven. These are the principles of his belief. Such people are antichrists. Are there not many such people in the church? (Yes.) To what degree have they penetrated the church? One hundred percent, including myself. Before I underwent God’s judgment and chastisement, I was the same, but after experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement, there are differences between people, and some people are able to clearly see the truth about themselves. After such revelations from God, I was aware that those who still pursue sharing the throne with God and still expect to hold the same power and gain the same crown of glory as God are truly shameless. After seeing God’s words of revelation, judgment and chastisement, I came to hate myself more and more, and from that moment, gradually, I began to change and no longer sought status. Afterward I determined that whatever status God gave me, I would never accept it. I would accept the duty and be content fulfilling it, I would never concern myself with status, or I would be senseless and shameless. I am unworthy of any status, so I should simply be content with fulfilling my duties. Some might ask, “What does it mean to contend for status? Does it mean contending for the status of Christ or the man used by the Holy Spirit?” No. Even contending for a church leadership position is contending for status with God, and if you contend to be God, you are even more doomed. Doesn’t that reveal you to be an evil spirit? Those who contend for the status of the man used by the Holy Spirit are also antichrists, that is 100% true. Any who contend for the status of a church leader, a district leader, or any status are antichrists, and such behavior is out of the satanic nature. What is the sense that believers in God should possess? To accept God’s arrangements. “If God lifts me up or calls me, I will obey and satisfy God; if God does not lift me up or call me, no matter what duty the church assigns me, I will obediently fulfill it.” If someone says, “You pursue the truth well now, you’ve made some progress, would you like to be a church leader? We’ll elect you as our leader,” you should say, “I can’t say I’d like to, I won’t contend for it, but if you choose me, I’ll obey God’s arrangements and accept it. If I’m not elected, I won’t contend for it.” Having this attitude is obeying God’s arrangements. If you contend for it, and use various methods to achieve your goal, aren’t you contending for status? Look at how worldly elections are carried out today. Aren’t those candidates all contending for their votes? The better candidates try to rouse enthusiasm, use publicity, and make promises. They go before crowds and say, “Choose me, I’ll give you an introduction to tell you who I am, and then promise that if you choose me, I’ll satisfy all your requirements. Tell me what your requirements are, and once I’m elected, I promise I’ll meet them.” What is this called? Using exchange to meet their goals. In mainland China, that isn’t how they do it. How do they elect village leaders in mainland China? The common people say, “Don’t lie to me. If you try to trick me, I won’t listen to you, so give me something real. Listen, give each of us 300 yuan, and we’ll all vote for you.” In mainland China, they buy votes with money. It’s entirely a monetary exchange. If you want to be a county governor, you need to give the provincial governor a million or five million yuan. If you want to be the mayor of a city, you have to pay ten million. If you want to be the governor of a province, you must pay 100 million. You can become an official by spending money. What is this called? Achieving your goals through unscrupulous means. In God’s house, various kinds of antichrists also use unscrupulous means, one of which is forming cliques and cabals. When they see some people who hope to form factions, they use other people to get them under their control, make them obey, and as their power grows, they begin to go against leaders, knock leaders out of their positions, and take over leadership positions. Aren’t such people antichrists? Aren’t there many such people who form cliques, cabals, and factions in the church? Wherever you see two people with an abnormally close relationship, there is trouble, because such people do not have a normal relationship, what they are doing is forming cliques and cabals.

What does a normal human relationship refer to? People with a normal human relationship treat most people alike. They are principled, with normal expressions, and their relationship with most people is neither too close or familiar, nor too distant or estranged. They stay far away from and reject evildoers, devils, and evil spirits, they interact in a principled manner with their true brothers and sisters, and they do not do things to draw some close while distancing others or pulling some in while kicking others away. Those who form cliques and cabals all have sinister, vicious humanity. They have goals. They do not help those in their group for the sake of helping them, they want to organize this group into a source of strength for themselves and use it to gain status. Should we guard against such people? Absolutely. Those who form cliques and cabals are no good, and what they do is called “factionalism.” What is “factionalism”? It is similar to how worldly political parties are built to hold power and rule. When you see two people who are always close, or 3-5 people who are always close, when they are always together and never seen apart, rest assured they are up to no good. There is a problem with such people’s humanity. Such people do not have normal human relationships. They have goals and intentions in always being together. Some might say, “I haven’t seen that they have any goals!” But don’t make that judgment just yet. Look at who they always talk about and discuss when they’re together. Doesn’t that make their goal apparent? If they are always talking about and discussing someone, they want to make that person an enemy, ruin his relationships with others, oppress and exclude him. They are not acting out of love to help that person. If some people always attack, criticize, judge, and gossip about a leader, they want to ruin his relationships with others. What those people mean is, “Don’t listen to him, stand with me, and let’s stand against him.” This is why those in the church who form cliques and cabals never have good intentions, do you understand? Isn’t forming cliques and cabals just factionalism? And what is the goal of factionalism? Bluntly, it is to contend for status with God. The people who do this are petty, despicable, evil people, and must be guarded against. Do you think someone with intentions like this is obeying God’s arrangements? Is he absolutely obedient to God? Is he someone who pursues the truth and sincerely expends for God? If you genuinely pursue the truth, then you should hand over all that you will do, the duty you will fulfill, and your future and fate to God, for God controls everything, and you cannot simply gain or do whatever you want. What do you count for? You are nothing! Everything is managed by God. If you are someone who, before God, has improper intentions, does not abide by God’s orchestrations and arrangements, does not obey God, and always wants to use your own means and methods to achieve your own goals, you are someone walking the path of the antichrist. The moment you gain status, the moment you have power and your words carry weight, your true face as an antichrist will be revealed. People who contend for status with God always exert effort and thought upon reputation and status. Is there not a problem in such people’s humanity? No such person is someone who pursues the truth. They all walk the path of the antichrist, and absolutely do not walk the path of Peter. There are some leaders and workers who I pay especially close attention to—their expressions, the path they walk, and the people they are. Before people have begun to walk the path of being perfected, their spiritual foundation is not yet formed. They are one way without status, and a different way once they have status. They are one way this year, and another way next year. Before their spiritual foundation is formed, you can’t see them clearly or accurately. But the moment they begin to walk this path, in most cases, you can rest assured that they won’t be a source of major problems.

Once someone truly begins to walk the path of Peter, he treasures the truth, he focuses on reality, he is willing to obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and he has none of his own intentions and goals. Such a person is reliable, because he already walks the path of Peter. If you asked Peter, “What do you like to do most?” what would his answer be? “Obeying God’s arrangements. I obey whatever God orchestrates, and I have none of my own demands.” After Peter was arrested, some of his brothers thought that if their leaders, the apostles, were all arrested, there would be no one left to continue their work. The idea troubled them, so they asked Peter, “Escape, and let us protect you.” Peter said, “You are right, I’ll do as you suggest.” He escaped, but just as he was leaving the city, the Lord Jesus appeared to him and said, “Peter, what are you doing?” At that moment, Peter thought, “Lord, how are You here? Weren’t You nailed to the cross and lifted up to heaven?” The Lord said, “I will be crucified for you again.” Peter heard and understood, “God died for us, so we should obey God’s arrangements. How, after that, could we choose our own path?” So, he went back, and was crucified upside down. From this, we can see that when Peter escaped, he didn’t understand God’s will, but after the Lord Jesus appeared to him, he understood that escaping was wrong, that this was a means of man, so he immediately went back. From this, can’t we see that Peter was someone obedient to God? God appeared to him, he understood God’s will, and he obeyed. Those who arranged Peter’s escape at the time didn’t know God’s will, so why did they do it? They were considering the church’s work. They weren’t scheming for their own fate, or scheming to preserve their own lives. Otherwise, why did they offer to protect Peter to cover his escape? Wouldn’t it be better if they themselves escaped? In this matter, they didn’t understand God’s will, but they were considering the church’s work, so God didn’t condemn them. These people were loyal to God. At the key moment, they still considered the work of God’s house and were loyal to God. Were these people contending for status with God? No. So, now let’s compare those who contend for status with God against these saints. How do they come out? The saints would rather die than betray God, didn’t demand to preserve their own lives, and finally died for God. Those are people loyal to God. The antichrists are selfish, despicable, evil, petty people. Merely to contend for status, they lose all obedience, and cannot obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements.

Will those who contend with God for status be perfected by God? They are of bad humanity, walk their own path, drag out an ignoble existence, and not only do not testify to God, they still contend for status and lust after the blessings of status. Is this not selfish and despicable? Is this not evil? Why do you contend for status? What gives you the right to contend for status? What are you to contend for status? Are you worthy? Status is something arranged by God’s house, and goes to whoever is selected by God’s chosen people in fair elections. If you are selected through private colluding, small favors, and petty benefits, do these things come from God? They are being selfish and despicable. If collusion and special means are used to gain status, isn’t that disgusting? Is this honorable? It’s like an ugly ghost coloring its cheeks with rouge—so shameless. Is there any meaning in contending for status? Today, after experiencing so much of the judgment and chastisement in God’s word, who would still contend for status? There are some leaders and workers who, when they look and see that their own work has no reality of truth, does not bring God’s chosen people into the realities of truth, and even less shows a path, directly tender their resignations. Such people have a measure of obedience and sense. However, there are also those who would die to retain their status and argue for themselves and are terrified of being dismissed. Doesn’t this expose their satanic nature? It does. Aren’t they people who contend for status with God? If you cannot do practical work, why do you occupy a place of status? Is this not harming others? How can you shamelessly stand in your place of status and flaunt your power? Are you not disgusting? Why contend for such status? If you can’t do practical work, submit your resignation and allow God’s chosen people to decide. If they choose you again, you must know that God has broken His usual rules and raised you up. “I know that I have no realities, but others have chosen me, so I’ll try again. I’ll ask God’s house if it agrees, whether I should perform this duty if I am selected. If I am asked to, I will, if not, I won’t. I’ll listen, obediently resign, and let go of my place.” To do this is sense. Why contend for status? Why try to take it? If it belongs to you, there is no need to contend for it or take it, and if not, it is useless to contend or attempt to take it. Simply following your fate and obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements is best. Do you still demand blessings? Do you still contend for status? Without status, are you not fulfilling your duties all the same? Then what is status? It is empty and useless. Those who possess the truth can perform any duty well; for those without truth, having status is not only pointless, it is troublesome and harmful. A good example is to say that if today I fellowship on the truth with you, and you listen, why do you listen? Do you listen because I am the man used by the Holy Spirit? That’s not the entire reason, in fact it’s not even half of it. Some might say, “That’s not true, we wouldn’t listen to you if you weren’t the man used by the Holy Spirit!” This is because some people are attracted to status. But now I’ll use another fact to prove my point—if my fellowship had no realities of truth, if all I had was this status, would you still listen? There are those who don’t genuinely obey the truth, much less obey God, who focus on obeying status, and if I didn’t have this status, there would be some people who wouldn’t listen to me. But if I didn’t have this status, and my fellowship contained truth and reality, who would want to listen to me? People who love the truth. No matter what status you have, as long as your fellowship genuinely has the realities of truth, can provide a path, and can guide others to knowledge of God, as long as you can fellowship about true knowledge of God, they will listen to you. They will cease their work and follow you. Do such people exist? Such people genuinely love the truth, and such people are impressive. There are also some unreasonable fellows who eagerly follow antichrists, and who wouldn’t necessarily follow someone who genuinely possesses the truth. Now do you understand what it is to contend for status with God? If we don’t contend for status with God, how should we practice? We can’t go wrong by obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements. Some have said, “If I simply obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements, doesn’t that make me passive and negative?” What does “passive and negative” refer to? If you don’t make an effort in the truth, you are passive and negative. If you obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements and pursue the truth, isn’t that fine? No matter what you do, the external appearance of it doesn’t matter, because the most important thing is gaining truth. If, for example, you are a leader, but you haven’t gained the truth, you are done for and worthless. If you are an ordinary believer who is simply performing a duty, perhaps hosting work or missionary work, but you have gained the truth, you are a great man. Where lies this greatness? When someone can pursue the truth and gains the truth, that single virtue covers for many other flaws. No matter how much status, honor, or fame you gain in your duties, you lose out greatly if you haven’t gained the truth. You walk the path of the antichrist, and you seek honor, parade yourself and show yourself off. Don’t you lose out by doing that? It might not seem like losing out to some people, because once someone has high status, he is supported and surrounded wherever he goes, everyone puts him at the center of attention and is respectful and deferent to him. While this might not seem like losing out, this is actually “losing out greatly by taking advantage.” And he certainly does take advantage, gaining the smiles, respect, support, compliments, praise, favors and petty benefits of others, and in the end what does he become? A parasite! Without testimony, he humiliates God. It deeply humiliates Him. Isn’t this the case? When the duty you perform seems insignificant, if others look down on you, most people ignore you, and some people even belittle you, keep you down, and condemn you, but in your heart you rely on God, are intimate with God, do not feel insulted, and feel that being with God is enough, environments like this will eventually give rise to a kind of patience, tolerance, love, persistence, and loyalty to God within you, and you will live out a genuine life and normal humanity. Is this losing out? Not only are you not losing out, you are actually growing in life, you have produced the fruits of life, and you have gained blessings. Disasters come to those who lust after the blessings of status, and this is what it means to “lose out greatly by taking advantage”—they eventually become antichrists and are rejected and expelled. Which type of people gain benefits? Those who pursue the truth, who bury themselves in their work, and who are happy to live humbly. Those who desire to show off themselves, who are wildly arrogant, and who are headstrong and tyrannical eventually all fall and fail. What does it mean to lose out or to take advantage? We can see by looking at these outcomes, results, and endings. Do you wish to still pursue status? Now that I’ve evaluated the pros and cons of pursuing status for you, let’s see what you choose. If you still lust for glory and pursue status, in the end you will not only not be perfected, but you will be eliminated. If you yearn to pursue the truth and are satisfied to live humbly and bear suffering, if you can bear any amount of suffering, no matter how much, if you can rely on God to gain strength, and finally you can produce the fruit of life and gain entry into the realities of truth, this is what it means to be perfected by God. What happens in the end to those who walk the path of the antichrist? They may gain fame, but not God’s approval. Those who walk the path of Peter appear humble on the outside, and they may lack Paul’s grandeur, but they gain God’s approval. Isn’t this “losing out greatly by taking advantage”? So, do you still want to take advantage? Don’t take advantage. Nothing good comes of it. If you eat a delicacy today, another delicacy tomorrow, if you eat from one’s table today and another’s tomorrow, if you enjoy something today and something else tomorrow, is this a good thing? Not at all. You should enjoy as much enjoyment as God gives. What isn’t given isn’t yours to enjoy, so you shouldn’t try to enjoy it. It’s not a good thing once you do, and eventually you always pay for it. God is righteous, He rules over all things, and He arranges circumstances to reveal you. Once God arranges these circumstances, your ending will have arrived. God works in mysterious ways. Haven’t the unbelievers experienced these things? The more clever among them have, and have summed up their realization in the saying “The Creator fools man,” but they have not realized the truth. God arranges these mysteries, God’s actions are wondrous, but if you pursue the truth, you can gain knowledge of God, gain the truth, and see God’s righteousness. Those who focus on doing good deeds and practicing the truth, in the end, will gain God’s blessings. The satanic devils who cannot see God’s righteousness, in the end, make a conclusion “The Creator fools man,” they are revealed and eliminated. So, if you devote all of your effort to the truth, and stop pursuing all these things outside yourselves, things like fleshly pleasures, glory, and fame, see if you actually lose out. If you genuinely have the truth and believe that you are guaranteed to not lose out and in the end will gain great blessings, then go ahead and you will know. After experiencing this for a time, what knowledge of God will you gain? That God rules all and that this is an absolute truth, that God is omnipotent, that Satan works as part of God’s arrangements, and that no one can escape God’s rule. Once you have this knowledge of God, you will entrust everything to God and obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements. After that, do you still wish to pursue your own desires? It’s useless to desire anything, because everything is in God’s hands. Pursuing status is even more useless and worthless. Those who obey God’s arrangements are the wisest of men, and only they are people who truly fear God.

What is the third admonishment? “Do not compete with God.” What does “compete” here refer to? It does not mean openly denying and condemning God. Those who genuinely believe in God never openly compete with God by saying, “God, I don’t believe in You.” To “compete” means that someone always wants to have control over his own fate, wants to walk his own path of belief in God, doesn’t obey God and always wants to rely on himself to achieve his own desires and goals. This is what it means to compete with God. What do those who truly obey God say? “All that man has is in God’s hands, so obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements is the wise choice.” Those with no knowledge of God say, “My fate is in my own hands, and everything I achieve relies on my own actions and efforts.” When you rely on yourself to do what you want and achieve the results you want to achieve, you are already not obeying God, and when you try to achieve certain goals by relying on yourself, you are competing with God and making an enemy of God, which is something deeper. Shallower competition with God is insistence on doing your own things and walking your own path without caring how God disciplines you or the Holy Spirit enlightens you. Where others say, “Do things by following the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” you will say, “I do things by following my own wisdom, views, and imaginings.” Where others say, “Rely on the Holy Spirit to water the church and do the church’s work well,” you will say, “I rely on my own abilities and caliber to do my work well.” Externally this doesn’t look like an evil deed, but in fact this is making yourself an enemy of God. If, for example, God were to say, “You are incapable of being a leader,” such a person would say, “Fine, You say I can’t be a leader, so I insist on being a leader.” Isn’t this competing with God? That’s exactly what it is. They insist on gaining what God hasn’t given them; they insist on doing what God doesn’t like people to do; they insist on doing things in ways God doesn’t like; God asks people to pursue the truth, and they don’t pursue the truth. They test their strength against God at every step, and this is competing with God. The competing of antichrists is more obvious, but to what degree? “I will say whatever Christ says, I will copy You to make people see that I am God as well. Man used by the Holy Spirit, whatever your sermons say, I will summarize and include in my own sermons. I will contend with you for superiority, I will not obey you, and I will place myself at the same level as you.” Another type of competition is, “I will not obey the work arrangements of the man used by the Holy Spirit. I have my own work arrangements, and everyone else must obey them.” Still others say, “I can deliver any of the sermons Christ delivered, so I am no lower than Christ.” Isn’t this competing with God? All of these behaviors are competing with God. Any who do not obey God and rely on themselves to achieve a particular goal or who insist on doing a particular thing are competing with God. It’s as if someone says, “God hasn’t arranged for me to be a leader, so I will become a leader no matter what; God hasn’t blessed me, so I will create blessings with my own hands.” Isn’t this competing with God? Some people compete for superiority with others, and say, “You experience God’s work and have the guidance of the Holy Spirit, fine! I’ll eat and drink God’s word too, I’ll learn much of the truth from God’s word as well, and through my own cleverness and wisdom, I will also deliver deep, profound sermons. I won’t submit to you!” This is competing with God. Anyone who competes with God is walking the path of the antichrist. What path do those who obey God walk? They walk the path down which the Holy Spirit guides them. They seek truth in everything, seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance and illumination, they act based on God’s word, they never flaunt their superiority or run amok, and they never parade themselves or show off their cleverness, ability, or knowledge. When people obey the Holy Spirit and act based on God’s word in all things, this is being obedient to God. Anyone who is not obedient to God, who attempts to do things or achieve goals based on personal ideas and desires, is competing with God. Some believers in God who have not gained the truth walk the path of the unbelievers, still insisting on doing or achieving something, or insisting that God’s chosen people listen to them and obey their arrangements. This is competing with God. Additionally, contending for status with God is itself competing with God, and testing God is also competing with God.

These three admonishments are all interrelated, and all are connected. Therefore, anyone who competes with God is without doubt someone walking the path of the antichrist, and absolutely cannot be perfected. So what does it mean to be conquered by God? It means to see the acts of God, then to have knowledge of the almightiness and wisdom of God, and finally to know that all that man has and is can never compare with God, that man is nothing, that man would still be nothing even if he exerted all his abilities, and that he cannot compete with God for even a moment and he would certainly fall. So, those who are conquered by God’s word are those who prostrate themselves in God’s presence, admit that they are nothing, and admit that God is all-powerful and rules everything. At this moment, they are willing to entrust everything to God and no longer desire to pursue this or that by relying on themselves. They simply obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements, which is the wisest choice. For example, someone isn’t selected as a church leader and he refuses to accept, saying, “You didn’t choose me, which means you don’t think I’m good enough, but I’ll show you whether or not I’m good enough, I’ll let you see what I can do.” What is this? Competing with God. He won’t obey. Something that everyone can see clearly may not entirely represent God’s will, but it is close and accords with reality, and if you refuse to accept it and keep going, everything you do will be useless for you don’t have the realities of truth. External things, to a certain degree, are achieved through knowledge. For example, if you want to plant an orchard, you can’t achieve it without knowledge of many aspects of how plants grow. You will kill as many trees as you plant without it, but once you have the knowledge, the matter becomes much easier. Some things are achieved through knowledge, but matters related to pursuit of the truth, gaining salvation, being perfected, and performing your duties require the truth to achieve and complete. They can’t be accomplished without it. Some people say, “I have caliber, I have knowledge, and I have intelligence, so I can do my work well.” But this idea doesn’t hold up. Intelligence and caliber can’t substitute for the truth. Those things can’t play a decisive role, but the truth plays a decisive role in all such work. I don’t possess much knowledge at all, so what do you think I rely on in my work? On one hand I rely on God, which means relying on the Holy Spirit’s work, but I also rely on years of life experience through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, which means relying on the understanding of the truth through the Holy Spirit’s work and guidance for so many years. There are many types of work which the truth can be directly used to resolve, but there are some matters ruled and arranged by the Holy Spirit, and this is knowledge man must possess. There are some matters I can’t know clearly, I might not have been present at the scene and only heard a person’s recounting of an incident. I only have that person’s telling of the incident, but I didn’t see the truth of what happened, what should I do? I have to pray. What does it mean to pray to God? It is to seek God’s guidance, enlightenment, illumination, and arrangements. There is no telling when God might use another person to explain the truth of the incident, or how God might enlighten and move me, or when the Holy Spirit might directly take control of me at the key or critical moment. Is it enough to rely purely on the truth and not rely on the Holy Spirit? No. We need to see these things clearly. In these matters, all the things man possesses, his caliber and wisdom, is utterly useless. It doesn’t play a decisive role. In these matters, the most important is the Holy Spirit, second are the realities of truth, to have this is impressive, and third is the wisdom, refinement, and experience that comes from life growth. The Holy Spirit is the most important, after which are the realities of truth. Both of these are required. Knowledge of various evil spirits comes early, because once you’ve seen enough you know them at a glance, you can recognize them 100% of the time, so matters like this are simple. But in complex matters, or with unfamiliar things that appear suddenly, things you’ve never seen or heard of, who can you rely on? It’s still the Holy Spirit—God. If an alien suddenly appeared before you speaking a language you could neither understand nor read, what would you do? There is nothing you could do, you would be stupefied, and then what use would your caliber be? If you understand the truth and have wisdom, you will know to rely on God and pray to God, to not act, because this is not a matter for man, and there is nothing that man could do. Most important in these matters is to rely on God. If you always compete with God, that spells trouble. God won’t bother with you. He will humiliate and cause you to fail at every turn, reveal you at every turn, and let you know you are nothing and that you are incapable of anything, and when that time comes, you will be submissive. You should learn to experience God’s work and obey God. The more obedient you become, the more you will see God’s wondrousness, the more you will see that God is omnipotent, and finally, you will be less and less willing to do things by relying on yourself. When you see yourself clearly and can deny yourself, will you still compete with God? Absolutely not. Competing with God is the most ignorant and most resistant to God, and naturally proves that your corruption is entirely unchanged. When God presents you with something new, you will be baffled, and you will become stuck. When man competes with God, he is nothing. When the Holy Spirit allows us to experience much, it is lifting us up, and when we come to understand the truth, we do not do so through our own abilities, it is the Holy Spirit that guides us to understanding. So, when we have some experience and gain more understanding, it is not praiseworthy and does not prove our competence. These things are grace from God, so even more so we should obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements. When we rely on God in all things, turn toward God and seek the truth, seek God’s enlightenment, and seek God’s guidance, this is correct, and by doing this, we walk upon the path of being perfected. What kind of people compete with God? Those controlled by their satanic natures, those who are without knowledge of God. Also, those who compete with God possess no realities of truth at all and are the most foolish people, do you understand this point? Then do you still believe you have ability and caliber? No matter how much ability you have, you are still nothing. What, exactly, can the most advanced worldly intellectuals and scholars do? What does all their culture and learning allow them to do? What can they see clearly? They can explain nothing, and all their words amount to nonsense. The theories of life proposed by these advanced intellectuals are nothing but disgusting and nauseating. Now, which is more useful, knowledge or the truth? Knowledge, at root, is something that corrupts man, something that harms them deeply. The truth perfects people, it is man’s life, the truth is invaluable, and the ability and wisdom it gives to people is endless. Today, we increasingly feel that knowledge is useless and worthless. There are certain types of minor knowledge, the type used in daily life, which doesn’t matter, which isn’t useful at all, and which doesn’t decide everything. Some people ask, “Is knowledge about what I should and shouldn’t eat worth understanding?” You can if you’d like, it’s not a bad thing, but not understanding it doesn’t matter, it won’t kill you. You can get through anything with God’s protection, you won’t die no matter what you eat and no matter how many times Satan harms you. If you are meant to die, no amount of knowledge will save your life. If you rely on God’s guidance and believe that everything is in God’s hands, that God decides everything, it is right. Ordinary people ever shouted “long live our Chairman,” but has he lived long? He died before he reached his hundredth year. If you are someone who fears God and falls deeply ill, but God wants you to live for 800 years, you are assured to live for 800 years, and no illness can kill you, because everything is in God’s hands. Will you still seek an immortality potion? Where will you find it? I tell you that the truth is your immortality potion. If you can abide by these three admonishments, at the very least you will not offend God, and after you have some true knowledge of God’s righteous disposition, you will be someone with a heart that fears God. Once you have a heart that fears God, you will be able to look to God in all things, you will learn to obey and wait for God, and when you do, you will be someone who walks with God, someone who has the truth, and then even less will you offend God’s disposition. If you are incapable of doing things that resist God, will you still be able to offend God’s disposition? Aren’t these truths useful for people? These three admonishments are the three principles of practice for gaining entry into the realities of truth. In the words of the unbelievers, these are “safety totems” that will ensure you do not offend God as you walk your path of belief in God. This is all too important!

Previous: Chapter 17. Sermons and Fellowship About God’s Word “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” (XVII)

Next: Chapter 20: The Path Walked by Believers in God Determines Their Ending and Destination

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