Sermons and Fellowship About God’s Word “Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement”
You Can Only Be Made Perfect If You Have Genuine Faith and Pursue the Truth Through Trials and Refinement
In pursuit of the truth, you need to strive for the truth, and work toward God’s demands. If you fail after one hundred attempts, you need to work for a one hundred and first time, work for two hundred times, right up until you succeed. What is this called? This is called faith! There is willpower in faith, resoluteness that makes you keep on fighting in spite of all setbacks. The greater your faith, the firmer your will. If you lack willpower, then it is easy to become discouraged. Are you people with willpower? If a person does not have willpower, it is easy to be disappointed, and then it’s easy to give up. It is like climbing a hill. You nearly reach the peak and there’s a slope that you can’t get over, and in the end you give it up as hopeless, “I’m totally finished, I don’t have the strength, I can’t climb up, this is as far as I go!” This thought brings failure. At times there is only a thought that separates success from failure. In refinement, the first thing that you must possess is faith, and secondly you need to pursue the truth. If you meet these two conditions, you will be able to attain being made perfect; without these two, you are doomed to failure. Some people are unable to gain experience during refinement, so what should they do? They need to eat and drink the word of God, pray a great deal, communicate more often. The solution is summarized with these three sentences: One is to eat and drink more of God’s word, one is to pray more, and one is to have more fellowship with people who have the truth and have experience. This will be of benefit to you. More eating and drinking the word of God can bring you faith, and more prayer to God enables you to obtain the work of the Holy Spirit and increase your strength, leading you to have an aim and direction. Frequent communication leads you to have an even clearer understanding of what is the path to entry and practice. Once you are clear about the path to entry and practice, then you have hope. It is no good if you don’t communicate, and it will also not do if you fumble about on your own. Even with the enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, you still need to rely on communication. If people with actual experience can guide, you will grasp it even more and have an even clearer understanding. In all manner of trials and refinements, people need to distinguish clearly the kinds of people who are able to attain being made perfect and which people will be eliminated in the end, and see clearly which people are able to be made perfect, and what it is that those to be made perfect should possess, whether or not you yourself now possess that, and if not, how you ought to equip yourself with it. These questions are crucial. Have you seen what kinds of people can be eliminated, and what should you learn and know from it? Do you wish to be eliminated? If not, look at why those who have been eliminated end up so and sum up the lessons from their failure. Do not walk the path of those who have failed, this is crucial. If you have a clear understanding of which category of people has been eliminated and failed, and you still follow along their path, then your outcome will be also to fail. If you can see which people have the will to pursue the truth, and that they possess the qualities, demands and requirements to be made perfect, only they are who you ought to emulate and learn from. Some people in the church follow those who are trouble-makers, who create disturbances, and do evil. They do not imitate those who pay a price in pursuing the truth and carrying out their duties and they do not draw close to them. It’s clear which path such people are taking. Some people see those who pursue the truth are subjected to many refinements, and they mock them and regard them as stupid. The result is that after suffering several years of hardship, the truth-pursuers obtain the truth and have the work of the Holy Spirit, they begin to be revived, they bear witness, and their mockers are dumbfounded. Therefore, there are all sorts of people in the church and you need to be clear about which path you walk after all, the path of the successful person or the path of the one who has failed. If you encounter all kinds of discipline, would you say this is a good thing or not? As a leader, or as a worker, since you are carrying out your duties, then you need to be disciplined. If you are an ordinary brother or sister who undertakes no duties at all, you are quiet and settled in the life of the church, and no one disciplines, prunes, deals with , or criticizes you, is this a good thing or not? This sort of easy and comfortable life benefits no one. Then some people say, “Don’t we seek peace through faith in God?” This sort of peace cannot make you gain the truth. You would like to strive for this peace, strive for no one pruning you, or dealing with you, and you feel good, your mood is good, your face is aglow each day, you look happy; such free and easy living is of no good to you. Some people have a philosophy of life and they choose such a lifestyle, seeking to be all at peace and very happy. The result is that after having believed for several years they have not obtained the truth. Those persons who have accepted pruning and being dealt with suffer much hardship and shed many tears, and at that time there is no glow on their faces. However, after two or three years, they have made considerable progress and there has been substantial change. This is how it is. So, do you wish to follow this path? The path in pursuit of the truth, the path of carrying out your duty, the path to being made perfect always requires undergoing pruning, being dealt with, and disciplining. It is a good thing to be pruned and dealt with by others, regardless of who criticizes you, scolds you or judges you. If you are a person who pursues the truth, this is a good thing for you. If you always have the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, as well as discipline, this is an even better thing as it explains that God loves you and you are someone to be made perfect. If you never enjoy such work of the Holy Spirit, and never encounter any pruning or being dealt with, would you say that this is a good thing? This is not a good thing. There are some people who don’t accept it and hate you when you deal with them, you fellowship and communicate about something in light of their states. Such a person detests pruning and being dealt with by others, he detests being exposed and disciplined by others. In fact, he does not only hate other people, most importantly he hates the truth, he is an enemy of the truth. This is the nature of the problem. All those who hate discipline, and who hate pruning and being dealt with, hate the truth and are enemies of the truth. Such people are not persons who are pursuing the truth, and there is no need to say whether or not they can be made perfect. So, the coming of pruning and being dealt with is God’s uplifting, it is God’s love. If you are not someone who is pursuing the truth, no one will prune you or deal with you, and isn’t it more easier to directly eliminate you? A living person goes to the hospital for treatment, but can you heal a dead person? Having injections, taking medicine, doing everything possible to heal a person, these are all done for the living. But as soon as someone has died, the only action to take is to stretcher him to the mortuary. Living persons in the church will always undergo pruning, being dealt with, and discipline, and criticism from brothers and sisters, or they face jealousy and attacks from some people. The more they pursue the truth, the more they encounter these things. From the outside things don’t go smoothly with them. In the words of unbelievers, they always unluckily meet despicable people. Is this not a good thing? It is a good thing that you meet despicable people. Every time you encounter a despicable person, you will then ponder over: “Why is it that this despicable person has come to me? What is he going to use against me? Where have I done something inappropriately? Then I need to correct it.” So this is beneficial to you. In all kinds of trials and refinements, what should be avoided at all costs is people losing their faith, always delimiting themselves to be incapable of doing this or doing that, or delimiting that they’re absolutely finished and there is no hope. This is the worst thing of all. The greatest tragedy of man’s failure is to give in to despair. If you always make it your practice, it will not do. Even if some others delimit you, you yourself should not do so, and you still have faith. This is true faith. If you fail a hundred times, and you feel that you have made too many transgressions, and you fear that God will not forgive you, this is your idea and it does not represent God’s will or the word of God. If you are someone who pursues the truth, regardless of how many times you fail, as long as you have faith to move ahead, God will still save you, and the Holy Spirit will still perform His work in you. This is the love of God. God’s love is not as simple or as limited as men imagine it to be. Therefore, under no circumstances should you delimit yourselves. All who define themselves that “I am the devil Satan, I cannot be saved, I am thoroughly worthless,” what mistake has such a person made? He does not understand the truth, he does not know God’s work, he blindly delineates himself, he packs himself into a coffin. This is a stupid thing. You commit such errors because you do not know God’s work. God does all He can to save man. Do you think that only you are like this and others are not? Only you have so corrupt disposition that you can’t be saved, and only you are corrupted too deeply? You can fail one hundred times and others just fail twenty or thirty times? Men are more or less the same with little difference, do you follow? Have some of you pondered over the fact that the man used by the Holy Spirit is probably of much better humanity, and less corrupt, and that is why he has been made perfect, while our corruption is so deep that we cannot be made perfect? Have you thought in this way? This way of putting it does not stand up! The level of men’s corruption is equally deep, regardless of their age. It is just that the will of men to pursue is not the same, and there are differences in their caliber and original things. Therefore, you feel that in your experience of God’s work entry into the truth is very difficult, but other people are no exception, and they are the same as you. You feel that you are suffering a great deal, you have not seen the great suffering of others. In fact, you do not know the suffering within their hearts, they have all suffered a lot. You need to think of this, you must not always think, “I’ve suffered so much, my corruption is so deep, there is no way for me to be saved.” This is wrong. All are equally corrupt, so do not give in to despair under any circumstances. You say, “I have been subjected to refinements for ten years and I still have not come through them.” Has God ever said that, having still not come through after ten years of refinements, you will be eliminated? Has this been said? If God’s work has not been completed on any given day, you then have a day to move ahead, you have a day to persevere, to be industrious, not to stop. This is called faith, this is called willpower. You can’t give up even if there is the least hope. This is the most crucial thing. Further, you must place emphasis on understanding the truth and finding a path by which to enter. The more trials and refinements you undergo, the more you should pursue the truth, because you will have motivation if you have the truth, and you will have a path if you have the truth. If you foolishly move ahead without a path, that will not do. It will not do if there’s nothing you can do about it. You should first place importance on understanding the truth. If you are clear about the truth and find a pathway, then you can come out of trials. You have obtained the truth and this aspect of God’s work has achieved an outcome, and in this regard you have been made perfect. Therefore, it is most essential to pursue the truth. You need to have the truth before you have a pathway, and once you have a pathway it will be easy to achieve success. If you have a pathway, you will have an aim and direction. Many people just do nothing when they undergo refinement. They do not pursue the truth, they do not properly seek the truth. As a result, in that regard they suffer many years of hardship without achieving any result, they have not been made perfect, because they have not pursued the truth. So, who is to blame? He himself is to blame for having no pathway. In the words of the unbelievers, he has fallen into a trap, but he does not look for solutions, he blindly goes here and there, he cannot break out without knowing the right way. You should first sit there quietly, study the situation: Where is the door? How can I get out of here? Try to find the trick by seeking the truth. This is what it means. Pursuit of the truth is extremely important. Pursue the truth, work out God’s will, then subsequently you will have a path to practice. In this regard, you have hope of success.
God makes men perfect by using judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement. The most important aspect of these is for men to know themselves. Knowing oneself includes knowledge of one’s own disobedience, and of one’s own resistance, as well as seeing one’s own true face, and seeing the substance of one’s own nature. In addition, it includes knowledge of one’s own deficiencies together with one’s pitifulness of being devoid of the truth. These are outcomes arrived at by knowing oneself. Just knowing oneself encompasses so many particulars such as these, and knowing these particulars is brought out clearly by means of trials and refinements. Apart from attaining true knowledge of their own corruption, deficiencies, and the substance of their nature, men’s true faith is able to be enhanced by means of trials and refinement. When a man undergoes refinement, because his faith is limited, it is easy for him to lose faith. Losing one’s faith during refinement at times produces negativity, and even contemplation of retreating. When a person wishes to retreat, when he is negative, he will think, “I have to believe, I cannot retreat, isn’t that unbelieving? Isn’t that turning my back to God?” If a man is able to develop such thoughts and ideas, they are revealed during trials and refinement. After they are revealed, because at this time in the depths of his soul a person is loath to be parted from God, he begins struggling, and he says “I simply cannot retreat, I mustn’t be negative again, I just cannot become distant from God.” And so, he is able to move ahead. How is that possible? First of all, it is through prayer. After he has prayed once, twice, three times, because at this time his prayer is sincere, after one stage of prayer he is able to enjoy the presence of God, and to enjoy the work of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and illumination. At this time faith develops once more, and the faith that develops at this time is the outcome that is arrived at by drawing close to God through prayer. On this occasion it will feel as if God has returned once again because he can again see the presence of God, and he feels once more that he has returned before God. Therefore, he then has a kind of determination: “This time I must really pursue the truth, I must properly eat and drink God’s words.” By means of eating and drinking God’s words and pursuing the truth, a man once again understands a little more of the truth, and he has a little new knowledge of God. Is this not an outcome attained through refinement? This is an outcome achieved through refinement, and during refinement man’s true faith is enhanced by drawing closer to God through prayer. Further, at times during refinement because God is not present, and there is no work of the Holy Spirit, on one hand a man will lose faith, while on the other hand a man cannot fathom in his heart all that God does, that God is love, God is salvation, and God is the truth. A man then becomes puzzled “So, where is God’s love? I’ve experienced God’s work for such a long time, where is God’s love in the end?” You see, when a man has enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, he is able to see that this is God’s love, and that is also God’s love. If he does not have the work of the Holy Spirit, a man is unable to discover where God’s love really is. At this time, he cannot see God’s love, even less can he enjoy God’s presence, and the work of the Holy Spirit. What sort of problem does man then discover? “I don’t know God. God has been performing His work for such a long time and I don’t even know or see God’s love. Isn’t it dark within me? It means I don’t have the truth. So, in the end do I have true knowledge of God’s disposition or is it false knowledge? It now occurs to me that I do not have true knowledge of God, and I’m even unclear as to where God’s love is.” At this time a man discovers another problem. He cannot see God’s work or God’s love. He has no knowledge of God, and with regard to this problem of knowing God he discovers that he knows nothing whatsoever. This is the outcome arrived at by refinement and on this occasion you can genuinely see your own impoverishment, pitifulness, blindness, nakedness, and that you have nothing at all. Subsequently, you have a will in your heart: “I can’t go on like this, it won’t do not to pursue the truth.” As soon as you undergo refinement you can see clearly your own true face, that you really are impoverished and pitiful, and you have obtained nothing; therefore, you set your mind to pursuing the truth. Under what circumstances does the motivation to pursue the truth develop? When you discover that you yourself are nothing at all, that you have nothing whatsoever, and you’re not even clear about what God’s love is and whether or not all the work that God does on mankind is love or not, it is under such circumstances that the motivation to pursue the truth develops. This is the exposure of God to corrupted mankind during refinement which makes men discover that their own deficiencies are very great, that they are without the truth, and that they don’t have the slightest knowledge of God. Furthermore, during refinement men can see that they fail to perform the duty that they should perform, keep a position that they ought to keep, that is to say, they fail to bear witness that they should bear. As soon as a man’s heart is distanced far from God, he no longer knows God, and does such a person have the truth? He does not have the truth, and he is completely in the dark as to what duties in the end he should fulfill. In the past what was the situation in the church for carrying out his duties? He would just do things that leaders, workers or the above ask or order him to do, and he would do them as he was directed to. In actual fact, he himself did not know what his duties should be. Without the leaders and workers telling him what duties he should perform, in the first place he would not know what to do, and secondly, he would not know how to do it. So, has such a person borne witness in the end? Without the leaders and workers, and without shepherds to arrange his work, he would do nothing at all, he could carry out no duties. He would be the same as a carved figurine. Without no one in charge of him, he does not stir. Does such a person still have witness? Once a person fails to carry out the duties he ought to do and pays no attention whatsoever to the responsibilities he should bear, does such a person have reason and a conscience before God? Can he still be called a man? What does standing witness refer to after all? It refers to completing the duties that a man should undertake and the responsibilities that he should assume, and this is bearing witness. If Satan puts you to the temptation, and you have held firm to the position you should stand, borne the responsibilities you should assume, and undertaken whatever duties you should perform, having done all these, has this not humiliated Satan? Is this not a victory over Satan? If you have assumed the responsibilities toward God that you should, taken a position toward God that you should, and carried out your duties to God as you ought, this then is bearing witness. If it is the case that as soon as Satan disturbs you, as soon as it tests you and deceives you, you then forsake these responsibilities, and you fail to carry out the duties a man should assume, this then equals failing to bear witness. For example, some people in the stage of zealousness can carry out their duties normally when there is no great obstruction from the outside world, and they can carry out whatever duties they are called upon to do. Then one day the great red dragon arrests them and after they suffer cruel torture and torment, they do not have even genuine belief in God and they can only acknowledge the existence of God. They cannot carry out their responsibilities as they should, and they do not bear the responsibilities they ought to assume. Have such people borne witness? No, they have not. Because as soon as they undergo this temptation by Satan, this torment, this persecution, their zealousness and faith vanish. They have not stood firm, they have failed to bear witness. However, there are some people who in all sorts of dangerous situations, in an environment of oppression and persecution by the great red dragon, can still pray to God, draw near to God, rely on God, obey God, and carry out their responsibilities normally as they ought to. Although there is great pressure and suffering in their hearts, yet they still carry out their duties with devotion and they are able to satisfy God. Such a person has stood witness, because he has undergone Satan’s persecution and adversity. Although in all kinds of dangerous environments he lives in fear and trepidation, he does not neglect his duties, he still takes responsibility for what he should do and completes it as usual. Such a person bears witness. God’s chosen people bearing witness before God primarily means that when they encounter all sorts of danger and adversity, or when they are arrested and tormented, during such trials they can still be devoted to God, they can still stand in the position of created beings to carry out their duties as they should, they can still live according to God’s words, regard God’s heart as their own. Such a person is one who truly knows God, who is genuinely devoted to God, someone who obeys God. Only such a person has been obtained by God. Regardless of the circumstances, and what sorts of tests they face, they can reach the required standard, and satisfy God. This is standing witness. If they attain such an outcome through trials and refinements, then this is someone who has been made perfect. Therefore, these are the various results that need to be achieved through trials and refinements. Furthermore, with regard to people who are pursuing the truth, the more trials and refinements they encounter, the more normal is their relationship with God. The more trials and refinements they encounter, the greater their true faith in God, the greater their true knowledge, the greater their true obedience. Therefore, as far as persons who are pursuing the truth are concerned, the more trials and refinements that they experience, the more they have been made perfect, and this is a growth in their stature. Then what is it for persons who do not pursue the truth? The situation is that they experience one instance of trials and refinements and they are revealed on one occasion; when they are once revealed, they then feel that believing in God is boring, that throughout his belief he cannot see God, nor can he sense God, and subsequently he knows even less what the future will be like, whether or not God’s work saves men, etc. Everything becomes vague, and uncertain to him. After such a person has been revealed through trials and refinements, that which he develops is not a will to pursue the truth but instead it is taking flight and returning to the world. Therefore, each instance of trial and refinement as far as those who do not pursue the truth is concerned is a revealing, and if the situation is serious it is elimination.
The last section of this passage of God’s words is even more crucial. God says, “God’s work in the country of the great red dragon is marvelous and unfathomable. He will eliminate some people.” God will eliminate some people, and what kind of people will God eliminate? They are those who do not pursue the truth. The refinements that he who does not pursue the truth is subjected to are not necessarily very many. Because he is not fond of the truth, he won’t make any effort toward the truth. Therefore, he certainly will not suffer any hardships. For instance, when pruning and dealing comes, what will he think of that? He thinks: “I have met a lowly person, in future I will pay no attention to him. I won’t do as he says, I’ll find a way to deal with him.” As soon as he thinks this way, he suffers no hardship, and he does not seek the truth. Therefore, such a person cannot change. However, when a person who is pursuing the truth encounters pruning and being dealt with, he ponders over it: “Is it really true what he prunes and deals with me? For what reason have I been pruned and dealt with? In what ways am I at fault?” He begins to know himself, and to seek the source of his faults, to find a way of resolving the problem and how to put into practice in keeping with God’s will. Once the problem is resolved he will no longer be subjected to pruning and being dealt with again. This is how a person who is pursuing the truth practices, and the result is that he obtains change, he knows himself, and God’s work arrives at an outcome on him. Those who pursue the truth suffer for their own corruption, and they suffer for hurting the heart of God and offending God. Those who do not pursue the truth are greatly proud of themselves, they couldn’t care less. The more that people look at them, the more they act as if nothing happens to them, they show off how virtuous they are, they do not obey. Therefore, such people do not suffer any hardship, they do not care, they pay no attention, they do not consider it seriously in their hearts, while still maintaining their own rectitude. Such people have not suffered any hardship, nor have they undergone any true refinement. Therefore, their life disposition has not changed. Such people are the sort of persons in the church who will be eliminated in the end. Therefore, regardless of what pruning and being dealt with, trials and refinements may come, if a man does not pursue the truth he will not attain being made perfect by God. This has been determined. Those who can’t be perfected by God will end up being eliminated by God, and this has also been determined. Is there now someone who doesn’t seek the truth but puts all his effort into arguing his own case when they encounter trials and refinements or pruning and being dealt with? He is using Satan’s schemes to deal with you, and he believes that he is extremely wise, he knows how to go about things. And what is the result? He has brought about his own ruin. What is this called? A clever person may become the victim of his own ingenuity. God has led the clever person to fall victim to his own schemes. The person who does not pursue the truth exits the scene in this way. So, when pruning and being dealt with, and trials and refinements come to you, how will you deal with them, how will you face them? Have you truly pursued the truth? Have you tried to understand God’s will? Do you know yourself? Do you know how to act in keeping with God’s will? If you have not attained these outcomes, you still haven’t been made perfect. Each occasion of trial and refinement is an opportunity to be made perfect by God. If you do not pursue the truth, and you have not attained being made perfect on this occasion of trial, you will encounter the same trial next time. If on the next occasion of a trial you still haven’t sought or pursued the truth, and you have wasted your time all the time, this is called idling the time away. Therefore, even if a person who does not pursue the truth goes through many instances of trials, he cannot be subjected to true refinement, nor can he suffer any true pain. Therefore, he has not attained being made perfect, and he has missed the opportunities to be made perfect by God. Such a person regards himself as smart, but in fact he is most stupid because he cannot experience God’s work. How will such a person ultimately end up? He will be eliminated.