4. How should one eat and drink God’s words and ponder God’s words?
Relevant Words of God:
Of the principles of eating and drinking the words of God, one relates to knowledge, and the other to entry. Which words should you come to know? You should come to know the words that relate to visions (such as, those relating to which age God’s work has now entered, what God wishes to achieve now, what the incarnation is, and so on; all these are related to visions). What is meant by the path that man should enter into? This refers to the words of God that man should practice and enter into. The above are the two aspects of eating and drinking the words of God. From now on, eat and drink the words of God in this way. If you have a clear understanding of His words concerning visions, then there is no need to keep reading all the time. Of primary importance is to eat and drink more of the words on entering, such as how to turn your heart toward God, how to quiet your heart before God, and how to forsake the flesh. These are the things you should put into practice. Without knowing how to eat and drink the words of God, true fellowship is impossible. Once you know how to eat and drink His words, when you have grasped what is key, fellowship will become free, and whatever issue is raised, you will be able to fellowship and grasp the reality. If, when fellowshiping the words of God, you have no reality, then you have not grasped what is key, which shows that you do not know how to eat and drink God’s words. Some people may find reading the words of God tiresome, which is not a normal state. What is normal is never growing tired of reading God’s words, always thirsting for them, and always finding the words of God to be good. This is how one who has really entered eats and drinks the words of God. When you feel that the words of God are exceedingly practical and are exactly what man should enter into; when you feel that His words are greatly helpful and beneficial to man, and that they are the provision of man’s life—it is the Holy Spirit that gives you this feeling, and it is the Holy Spirit that moves you. This proves that the Holy Spirit is working in you and that God has not turned away from you. Some people, seeing that God is always speaking, become tired of His words, and think it of no consequence whether they read them or not—which is not a normal state. They lack a heart that thirsts to enter into reality, and such people neither thirst for nor place importance on being perfected. Whenever you find you do not thirst for the words of God, this shows that you are not in a normal state. In the past, whether God had turned away from you could be determined by whether you were at peace within, and whether you experienced enjoyment. Now the key is whether you thirst for the words of God, whether His words are your reality, whether you are faithful, and whether you are able to do all that you can for God. In other words, man is judged by the reality of the words of God. God directs His words to all of humanity. If you are willing to read them, He will enlighten you, but if you are not, He will not. God enlightens those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and He enlightens those who seek Him. Some say that God did not enlighten them even after they read His words. But in what way did you read these words? If you read His words in the way a man on horseback looks at flowers, and placed no importance on reality, how could God enlighten you? How can one who does not treasure God’s words be made perfect by Him? If you do not treasure the words of God, then you will have neither truth nor reality. If you treasure His words, then you will be able to put the truth into practice, and only then will you possess reality. This is why you must eat and drink the words of God at all times, whether you are busy or not, whether the circumstances are adverse or not, and whether you are being tried or not. All in all, the words of God are the foundation of man’s existence. No one can turn away from His words, but must eat His words as they do the three meals of the day. Could being made perfect and gained by God be that easy? Whether or not you understand at present, and whether or not you have insight into the work of God, you must eat and drink the words of God as much as possible. This is entering in a proactive way. After reading the words of God, hasten to put into practice what you can enter into, and set aside for the moment what you cannot. There may be many of the words of God that you cannot understand in the beginning, but after two or three months, perhaps even a year, you will. How can this be? It is because God cannot make people perfect in a day or two. Most of the time, when you read His words, you may not understand right away. At that time, they may seem like nothing more than mere text; you must experience them for a time before you can understand them. God having spoken so much, you should do your utmost to eat and drink His words, and then, without you realizing it, you will come to understand, and without you realizing it, the Holy Spirit will enlighten you. When the Holy Spirit enlightens man, it is often without man’s awareness. He enlightens and guides you when you thirst and seek. The principle by which the Holy Spirit works is centered around the words of God that you eat and drink. All those who place no importance on the words of God and are always of a different attitude toward His words—believing, in their befuddled thinking, it a matter of indifference whether they read His words or not—are those who do not possess reality. Neither the Holy Spirit’s work nor His enlightenment can be seen in such a person. People like this are merely coasting along, pretenders without true qualifications, like Mr. Nanguo of the parable.[a]
Excerpted from “The Age of Kingdom Is the Age of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
When you eat and drink the words of God, you must measure the reality of your own state against them. That is, when you discover your shortcomings in the course of your real experience, you must be capable of finding a path to practice, of turning your back on your incorrect motivations and notions. If you always strive for these things and pour your heart into achieving them, then you will have a path to follow, you will not feel empty, and thus you will be able to maintain a normal state. Only then will you be someone who carries a burden in your own life, who has faith. Why is it that some people, after reading God’s words, are unable to put them into practice? Is it not because they cannot grasp the most crucial things? Is it not because they do not take life seriously? The reason that they cannot grasp the crucial things and have no path to practice is that when they read God’s words, they are unable to relate their own states to them, nor can they master their own states. Some people say: “I read God’s words and relate my state to them, and I know that I am corrupt and of poor caliber, but I am incapable of satisfying God’s will.” You have only seen the very surface; there are many real things that you do not know: how to put aside the enjoyments of the flesh, how to put aside self-righteousness, how to change yourself, how to enter into these things, how to improve your caliber, and from which aspect to begin. You only grasp a few things on the surface, and all that you know is that you are indeed very corrupt. When you meet your brothers and sisters, you talk about how corrupt you are, and it seems that you know yourself and carry a great burden for your life. In fact, your corrupt disposition has not changed, which proves you have not found the path to practice.
Excerpted from “Practice (7)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If you wish to pursue the truth, if you wish to understand and gain the truth, then you must learn how to be quiet before God, how to ponder the truth, and how to ponder God’s words. Are there formalities to follow in order to ponder the truth? Are there any rules? Are there any time limitations? Do you have to do it in a certain place? No—God’s words can be pondered at any time or place. If you spent less time on your usual vacuous thoughts and flights of fancy, and used it to ponder the truth, how much time a day would not be wasted as a result? What do people do when they waste time? They spend all day chatting and gossiping, only doing what interests them, engaging only in frivolities, thinking only of the useless things of times gone by, and imagining what their future will hold, where the future kingdom will be, where hell is—are these not frivolities? If this time is spent on positive things—if you are quiet before God, spend more time pondering God’s words and fellowshiping the truth, reflect upon each of your actions, and hold them up before God for His scrutiny, and then look at whether there are any major issues that you have failed to realize or identify, looking in particular, at those critical areas where you are most rebellious to God, and searching for the corresponding words of God to solve them—then you will gradually enter the truth reality.
What does pondering the words of God involve? It involves holding up the so-called spiritual terms and doctrines you so frequently utter, and the spiritual principles of practice you frequently believe to be correct, and pray-reading: “I’m clear about the theory of these spiritual phrases and terminology, I have a good understanding of their literal meaning, but what about their reality? How should I put them into practice?” That is how to ponder the words of God; start from this aspect. If, when they believe in God, people do not know how to ponder His words, they will have great difficulty entering and understanding the truth. If people are incapable of truly understanding the truth, are they able to enter the truth reality? If they are unable to enter the truth reality, can they gain the truth? If people cannot gain the truth, and cannot enter the truth reality, can they satisfy God’s will? It would be very difficult. Take the oft-repeated words of “fear God and shun evil,” for example: You must contemplate these words, and say to yourself, “What is fearing God? If I say something wrong, is this fearing God or not? Is speaking thus doing evil, or doing good? Is it remembered by God? Is it condemned by God? What things are evil? Are my own ideas, motivations, thoughts, views, the impetus and origins behind the things I say and do, the various dispositions I reveal—are these considered evil? Which of them are approved of by God? Which are loathed by God? Which are condemned by God? In which matters is there a high chance of me making a grave mistake?” All of this is worthy of consideration. Do you regularly ponder the truth? How much time have you wasted? How many matters concerning the truth, concerning faith in God, concerning life entry, concerning fearing God and shunning evil, have you given thought to? When your pondering of God’s words or pondering of matters concerning faith in God and the truth bears fruit, you will have attained life entry. You still do not know how to ponder these things today, and you have not attained life entry. When someone has attained life entry, and is able to ponder God’s words, and contemplate issues, they have then begun to enter the truth reality.
Excerpted from “The Path Comes From Often Pondering the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
When you hear the word of God, do you apply it to yourselves, or are you just listening to doctrine, the words going in one ear and out the other? What kind of attitudes and motivations are there within you? You do not really know how to eat and drink the word of God. After reading the passage of God’s words entitled “A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth,” for example, all you understand is that God is saying that those who do not practice the truth shall be eliminated, that God does not delight in those who do not practice the truth, and that, in God’s eyes, they are not good, they are evil. But have you ever thought about which of people’s behaviors are not practicing the truth, which of their actions, attitudes, and the paths they walk are regarded by God as manifestations of not practicing the truth? Do you know how to contemplate that? You must do so regularly, and not wait until you gather together to think about this; you must learn to contemplate the words of God often. What is the word of God? It is the reality of all positive things; it is the truth, the way, and the life that God bestows on man. God’s words are not doctrines, slogans, or arguments, nor are they some sort of philosophy and learning. Rather, they have to do with man’s life and existence, with his behavior and disposition, with all that man reveals, and with the ideas and opinions that are conceived in man’s heart and exist in his mind. If your contemplation of God’s words is untethered from these things, and if you are untethered from them as you read His words and listen to sermons and fellowship, then what you can understand will be superficial and limited. You must learn how to contemplate God’s words. This is crucial. There are many ways to contemplate God’s words: You may read them silently and pray in your heart, seeking enlightenment and illumination from the Holy Spirit; you may also fellowship and pray-read in the company of those who pursue the truth; and, of course, you may integrate fellowships and sermons into your contemplation to deepen your understanding and appreciation of God’s words. The ways are many and varied. In short, if, in reading God’s words, one wishes to achieve an understanding of them, then it is crucial to contemplate and pray-read God’s words. The purpose of pray-reading God’s words is not to be able to recite them, nor is it to commit them to memory; rather, it is to gain an accurate understanding of these words after having pray-read and contemplated them and to know the meaning of these words spoken by God, as well as His intention. It is to find therein the path on which one should practice, and to keep from turning to one’s own way. In addition, it is to be able to discern between all the various sorts of states and types of people revealed in God’s words, to be able to find the accurate path of practice with which to treat each type of person. At the same time, it is to avoid going astray and setting foot on the path that God abhors. Once you learn how to pray-read and how to contemplate God’s words, and do it often, only then can God’s words take root in your heart and become your life.
Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (11)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Whichever aspect of the truth reality you have heard, if you hold yourself up against it, implement these words in your own life, and incorporate them into your own practice, then you will definitely gain something, and you are bound to change. If you simply stuff these words into your belly and memorize them in your brain, then you will never change. Whilst listening to the sermons, you should ponder thusly: “What sort of state are these words referring to? What aspect of essence are they referring to? In what matters should I apply this aspect of the truth? Whenever I do something related to this aspect of the truth, am I practicing in accordance with it? And when I’m putting it into practice, is my state in keeping with these words? If not, then should I seek, fellowship, or wait?” Do you practice in this manner in your lives? If you do not, then your life is without God and without the truth. You live according to letters and doctrines or according to your own interests, confidence, and enthusiasm. Those who do not possess the truth as reality are those who have no reality, and people who do not have God’s words as their reality are people who have not entered His words.
Excerpted from “The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Coming to a genuine understanding of the actual meaning of God’s words is no simple matter. Do not think this way: “I can interpret the literal meaning of God’s words, and everyone says my interpretation is good, and gives me a thumbs-up, so this means I understand God’s words.” That is not the same as understanding God’s words. If you have gained some light from within God’s utterances, and you have gotten a sense of the true meaning of His words; and if you can express the intention behind His words and what effect they will ultimately achieve, then once you have a clear understanding of all of these things, you can be considered to have some level of understanding of God’s words. Thus, understanding God’s words is not all that simple. Just because you can give a flowery explanation of the literal meaning of God’s words does not mean you understand them. No matter how much you can explain their literal meaning, your explanation is still based on human imagination and way of thinking. It is useless! How can you understand God’s words? The key is to seek the truth from within them; only in that way can you truly understand what He says. Whenever God speaks, He certainly does not speak in mere generalities. Each sentence He utters contains details that are certain to be revealed further in God’s words, and they may be expressed differently. Man cannot fathom the ways in which God expresses the truth. God’s utterances are very profound and cannot be fathomed with human way of thinking. People can discover the entire meaning of every aspect of the truth as long as they make an effort; if you do this, then as you experience them, what details remain will be filled in completely as the Holy Spirit enlightens you, thus giving you an understanding of these concrete states.
Excerpted from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Eating and drinking of God’s words can enable you to understand the truth only if it is done the right way. However, simply understanding the truth does not mean you are able to enter truth reality. Some people are of good caliber but do not love the truth; although they are able to understand a bit of the truth, they do not practice it. Can such people enter truth reality? Understanding the truth is not as simple as understanding doctrines. To understand the truth, you must know how to eat and drink of God’s words. Take the eating and drinking of a passage concerning the truth of love for God, for example. God’s word says: “‘Love,’ as it is called, refers to an emotion that is pure and without blemish, where you use your heart to love, to feel, and to be thoughtful. In love there are no conditions, no barriers, and no distance. In love there is no suspicion, no deceit, and no cunning. In love there is no trade and nothing impure.” This is how God defines love, and this is the truth. But whom shall you love? Shall you love your husband? Your wife? Your brothers and sisters? No. When God speaks of love, He speaks not of love for your fellow man, but of man’s love of God. This love is true love. How should you comprehend this truth? It means God wants people not to doubt Him or distance themselves from Him, but to have a love for Him which is pure and without blemish. “Without blemish” means having no extravagant desires and making no extravagant demands of God, laying no conditions on Him, and not making any excuses. It means He comes first in your heart; it means only His words occupy your heart. This is an emotion that is pure and without blemish. This emotion occupies a certain place in your heart; you are always thinking of Him and missing Him, and can bring Him to mind at each and every moment. To love means to love with your heart. Loving with your heart consists of being considerate, caring and longing. To succeed in loving with your heart, you must undergo a process of knowing. At the present time, while you have little knowledge of God, you should use your heart to yearn for Him, to long for Him, to obey Him, to be considerate toward Him, to pray to Him, and to cry out for Him; you should even be able to share in His thoughts and concerns. You must put your heart into these things. Do not merely pay lip service, saying: “Dear God! I’m doing this for You, I’m doing that for You!” Only loving and satisfying God with your heart is real. Although you do not say so aloud, you have God in your heart, in your heart you are thinking of Him. You can give up your husband, your wife, your children, your parents; but your heart cannot be without God. Without God, you simply cannot live. This means you have love, and you have God in your heart. “[U]se your heart to love, to feel, and to be thoughtful.” This involves many things. It is the true love that God requires of man; in other words, you must love and care for Him with your heart, and always keep Him in mind. This does not mean just voicing the words, nor does it mean how you express yourself with your bearing; rather, primarily, it means doing things with heart, and letting your heart govern all of your actions. In doing things this way, there is no motivation, no adulteration, no suspicion; a heart such as this is much purer. How are doubts in your heart expressed? They are expressed when you are always thinking, “Is it right for God to do this? Why does God say this? If there’s no reason behind God saying this, I won’t obey it. If it is unjust for God to do this, I won’t obey. I’ll drop it for now.” To not harbor doubts means recognizing that whatever God says and does is right, and with God there is no right or wrong. Man must obey God, be considerate toward God, satisfy God, and share in His thoughts and concerns. Regardless of whether or not everything God does seems meaningful to you, whether it is agreeable to man’s notions and imaginings, and regardless of whether it makes sense to man, you can always obey and have a reverent, submissive heart toward these things. Is not such practice in conformity with the truth? Is it not the manifestation and practice of love? Therefore, if from God’s words you do not understand God’s will and the intentions behind His utterances, if you do not understand the aims and results that His words intend to achieve, if you do not understand what His words seek to accomplish and perfect in man, if you do not understand these things, then it proves that you do not yet comprehend the truth. Why does God say what He says? Why does He speak in that tone? Why is He so earnest and sincere in every word He speaks? Why does He choose to use certain words? Do you know? If you cannot say for sure, it means you do not understand God’s will or His intentions, you do not understand the context behind His words. If you do not comprehend this, then how can you gain the truth? Gaining the truth means understanding God’s meaning through every word that He says; it means you are able to put God’s words into practice once you have understood them, so that God’s words can be lived out by you and become your reality. Only when you have a thorough understanding of the word of God can you really grasp the truth.
Excerpted from “Only Those With the Reality of the Truth Can Lead” in Records of Christ’s Talks
In summary, taking Peter’s path in one’s faith means to walk the path of pursuing the truth, which is also the path of truly getting to know oneself and changing one’s disposition. Only by walking the path of Peter will one be on the path of being perfected by God. One must be clear on how, exactly, to walk Peter’s path, as well as how to put it into practice. First, one must put aside one’s own intentions, improper pursuits, and even family and all things of one’s own flesh. One must be wholeheartedly devoted; that is, one must completely devote oneself to the word of God, focus on eating and drinking of God’s words, concentrate on the search for the truth and the search for God’s intentions in His words, and try to grasp God’s will in everything. This is the most fundamental and vital method of practice. This was what Peter did after seeing Jesus, and it is only by practicing in this way that one can achieve the best results. Wholehearted devotion to the words of God primarily involves seeking the truth, seeking God’s intentions within His words, focusing on grasping the will of God, and understanding and obtaining more truth from God’s words. When reading His words, Peter was not focused on understanding doctrines, much less was he focused on obtaining theological knowledge; instead, he concentrated on comprehending the truth and grasping God’s will, as well as achieving an understanding of His disposition and His loveliness. Peter also attempted to understand the various corrupt states of man from God’s words, as well as man’s corrupt nature and actual shortcoming, thus meeting all aspects of God’s requirements of man in order to satisfy Him. Peter had so many correct practices that abided by the words of God; this was most in line with God’s will, and it was the best way a person could cooperate while experiencing God’s work. When experiencing the hundreds of trials from God, Peter examined himself strictly against every word of God’s judgment of man, every word of God’s revelation of man, and every word of His demands of man, and strived to fathom the meaning of those words. He tried in earnest to ponder and memorize every word that Jesus said to him, and achieved very good results. Through this manner of practicing, he was able to achieve an understanding of himself from God’s words, and he not only came to understand the various corrupt states of man, but also came to understand man’s essence, nature, and various shortcomings. This is what it means to truly understand oneself. From God’s words, Peter not only achieved a true understanding of himself, but from the things expressed in God’s words—God’s righteous disposition, what He has and is, God’s will for His work, His demands of mankind—from these words he came to know God completely. He came to know God’s disposition, and His essence; he came to know and understand what God has and is, as well as God’s loveliness and God’s demands for man. Although God did not speak back then as much as He does today, results in these aspects were nevertheless achieved in Peter. This was a rare and precious thing. Peter went through hundreds of trials, but did not suffer in vain. He not only came to understand himself from the words and the work of God, but he also came to know God. In addition, he particularly focused on God’s requirements of mankind within His words. In whichever aspects man should satisfy God to be in line with God’s will, Peter was able to put forth great effort in these aspects and achieve full clarity; this was extremely beneficial with regard to his own entry. No matter what God spoke of, as long as those words could become his life and they belonged to the truth, Peter was able to carve them into his heart to ponder and appreciate them frequently. After hearing the words of Jesus, he was able to take them to heart, which shows that he was especially focused on God’s words, and he truly achieved results in the end. That is, he was able to freely put the words of God into practice, accurately practice the truth and be in line with God’s will, act entirely in accordance with God’s intention, and give up his own personal opinions and imaginations. In this way, Peter entered into the reality of God’s words.
Excerpted from “How to Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks
a. The original text does not contain the phrase “of the parable.”