Now let’s start our meeting. We’ll first read an article of God’s words, “Only Those Who Know God Can Bear Testimony to God.”
“It is heaven’s law and earth’s principle to believe in God and know God, and today—during an age when God incarnate personally does His work—is a particularly good time to know God. Satisfying God is achieved upon the foundation of understanding God’s will, and to understand God’s will, it is necessary to know God. This knowledge of God is the vision that a believer must have; it is the basis of man’s belief in God. If man does not have this knowledge, then his belief in God is vague, and lies in empty theory. Though it is the resolution of people like this to follow God, they obtain nothing. All those who obtain nothing in this stream are the ones who will be eliminated, and they are the people who are merely doing the bare minimum. Whichever step of God’s work you experience, you should be accompanied by a mighty vision. Without such a vision, it would be difficult for you to accept each step of new work, for man is incapable of imagining the new work of God, it is beyond man’s conception. And so without a shepherd to tend to man, without a shepherd to fellowship about the visions, man is incapable of accepting this new work. If man cannot receive the visions, then he cannot receive the new work of God, and if man cannot obey God’s new work, then man is incapable of understanding God’s will, and so his knowledge of God amounts to nothing. Before man carries out the words of God, he must know the words of God, that is, understand God’s will; only in this way can God’s words be carried out accurately and according to God’s heart. This must be possessed by everyone who seeks the truth, and is the process that must be experienced by everyone who tries to know God. The process of knowing the words of God is the process of knowing God, and also the process of knowing the work of God. And so, knowing the visions not only refers to knowing the humanity of God incarnate, but also includes knowing the words and work of God. From the words of God people come to understand God’s will, and from the work of God they come to know God’s disposition and what God is. Belief in God is the first step to knowing God. The process of advancing from the initial belief in God to the most profound belief in God is the process of knowing God, and the process of experiencing the work of God. If you only believe in God for the sake of believing in God, and do not believe in God in order to know God, then there is no reality to your belief, and it cannot become pure—of this there is no doubt. If, during the process by which he experiences God, man gradually comes to know God, then his disposition will gradually change, and his belief will become increasingly true. In this way, when man achieves success in belief in God, he will completely gain God. God went to such great lengths to become flesh for the second time and personally do His work so that man would be able to know Him, and would be able to see Him. Knowing God[a] is the final effect to be achieved at the end of God’s work; it is God’s final requirement of mankind. He does this for the sake of His final testimony, and so that man may finally and completely turn to Him. Man can only love God by knowing God, and to love God he must know God. No matter how he seeks, or what he seeks to gain, he must be able to achieve the knowledge of God. Only in this way can man satisfy God’s heart. Only by knowing God can man truly believe in God, and only by knowing God can he truly revere and obey God. Those who do not know God shall never truly obey and revere God. Knowing God includes knowing God’s disposition, understanding God’s will, and knowing what God is. Yet whichever aspect of knowing God it is, each requires man to pay a price, and requires the will to obey, without which no one would be able to follow to the end. The work of God is too incompatible with the conceptions of man, God’s disposition and what God is are too difficult for man to know, and all that God says and does is too incomprehensible to man; if man wishes to follow God, but is unwilling to obey God, then man will gain nothing. From the creation of the world until today, God has done much work that is incomprehensible to man and which man has found hard to accept, and God has said much that makes the conceptions of man difficult to heal. Yet He has never ceased His work because man has too many difficulties; He has carried on working and speaking, and even though great numbers of ‘warriors’ have fallen by the wayside, He is still doing His work, and continues to choose group after group of people who are willing to obey His new work. He does not pity those fallen ‘heroes,’ but instead treasures those who accept His new work and words. But to what end does He work in this way, step-by-step? Why is He always eliminating and choosing people? Why does He always employ such method? The aim of His work is for man to know Him, and thus be gained by Him. The principle of His work is to work on those who are able to obey the work He does today, and not to work on those who obey His past work, but oppose His work of today. This is the very reason why He has eliminated so many people.
The effects of the lesson of knowing God cannot be achieved in one or two days: Man must accumulate experiences, undergo suffering, and have true obedience. First of all, start from the work and words of God. You must understand what knowing God includes, how to achieve the knowledge of God, and how to see God during your experiences. This is what everyone must do when they have yet to know God. No one can grasp the work and words of God straight away, and no one can achieve a knowledge of God’s entirety in a short time. What’s required is the necessary process of experience, without which no one would be able to know God or truly follow God. The more work that God does, the more that man knows Him. The more at odds the work of God is with the conceptions of man, the more man’s knowledge of Him is renewed and deepened. If the work of God were to remain forever unchanged, then man would have but a small knowledge of God. From the creation of the world until today, you must know clearly the visions of what God did during the Age of Law, what He did during the Age of Grace, and what He does during the Age of Kingdom. You must know the work of God. Only after following Jesus did Peter gradually come to know much of the work the Spirit did in Jesus. He said, ‘Relying on the experiences of man is not enough to achieve a complete knowledge of God; there must be many new things from the work of God to help us know God.’ At the beginning, Peter believed that Jesus was sent by God, like an apostle, and he did not see Jesus as Christ. While Peter was called to follow[b] Jesus, Jesus asked him, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, will you follow Me?’ Peter said, ‘I must follow he who is sent by the heavenly Father. I must acknowledge he who is chosen by the Holy Spirit. I will follow You.’ From his words, it can be seen that Peter simply had no knowledge of Jesus; he had experienced the words of God, had dealt with himself, and had suffered hardship for God, yet he did not know the work of God. After a period of experience, Peter saw in Jesus many of the deeds of God, saw the loveliness of God, and saw much of God’s being in Jesus. So too did he see that the words of Jesus could not have been spoken by man, and that the work Jesus did could not have been done by man. In Jesus’ words and actions, furthermore, Peter saw much of the wisdom of God, and much divine work. During his experiences, he did not merely come to know himself, but also focused on observing the actions of Jesus, from which he discovered many new things; namely, that there were many expressions of the practical God in the work that God did through Jesus, and that Jesus’ words, actions, the ways He shepherded the churches and the work He carried out differed from any ordinary man. Thus, from Jesus he learned many lessons that he was supposed to learn, and by the time Jesus was about to be nailed to the cross, he had gained some knowledge of Jesus—a knowledge which was the basis of his lifelong loyalty to Jesus, and of his crucifixion upside down for the sake of Jesus. He was possessed of some conceptions, and did not have a clear knowledge of Jesus at the beginning, but such things are inevitably found in corrupt man. When He was about to depart, Jesus told Peter that His crucifixion was the work He had come to do; He must be forsaken by the age, this impure old age must nail Him to the cross, and He had come to complete the work of redemption, and, having completed this work, His ministry would have come to an end. Upon hearing this, Peter was beset with sorrow, and felt even more devoted to Jesus. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, Peter wept bitterly in private. Prior to this, he had asked Jesus, ‘My Lord! You say You are going to be crucified. After You’re gone, when will we see You again?’ Is there not mixture in the words that he spoke? Are there not his conceptions? In his heart, he knew that Jesus had come to complete part of God’s work, and that after Jesus left, the Spirit would be with him; although He would be nailed to the cross and ascend to heaven, the Spirit of God would be with him. At the time, he had some knowledge of Jesus, and knew that He had been sent by the Spirit of God, that the Spirit of God was within Him, and that Jesus was God Himself, He was Christ. Yet because of his love for Jesus, and because of the weakness of man, still Peter said such words. If you can observe and undergo meticulous experiences in every step of God’s work, then you will be able to gradually discover the loveliness of God. And what was the vision of Paul? When Jesus appeared to him, Paul said, ‘My Lord! Who are You?’ Jesus said, ‘I am Jesus whom you persecute.’ This was Paul’s vision. Peter used the resurrection of Jesus and His appearance for 40 days, and Jesus’ teachings during His lifetime, as his vision until he came to the end of his journey.
a. The original text reads “The work of knowing God.”
b. The original text reads “was following.”