4. The Significance of God’s Work of Trials and Refinement
Relevant Words of God:
What internal state in people are trials aimed at? They are targeted at the rebellious disposition in people that is incapable of satisfying God. There is much that is impure within people, and much that is hypocritical, and so God subjects people to trials in order to purify them. …
If you do not know God’s disposition, then you will inevitably fall during trials, because you are unaware of how God makes people perfect, by what means He makes them perfect, and when God’s trials come upon you and they do not match your notions, you will be unable to stand firm. God’s true love is His entire disposition, and when God’s entire disposition is shown to people, what does this bring to your flesh? When God’s righteous disposition is shown to people, their flesh will inevitably suffer much pain. If you do not suffer this pain, then you cannot be made perfect by God, nor will you be able to devote true love to God. If God makes you perfect, He will surely show His entire disposition to you. From the time of creation until today, God has never shown His entire disposition to man—but during the last days He reveals it to this group of people whom He has predestined and selected, and by making people perfect, He lays bare His dispositions, through which He makes complete a group of people. Such is God’s true love for people. Experiencing God’s true love requires that people endure extreme pain, and pay a high price. Only after this will they be gained by God and be able to give their true love back to God, and only then will God’s heart be satisfied. If people wish to be made perfect by God, and if they wish to do His will, and fully give their true love to God, then they must experience much suffering and many torments from their circumstances, to suffer pain worse than death. Ultimately they will be forced to give their true heart back to God. Whether or not someone truly loves God is revealed during hardship and refinement. God purifies people’s love, and this is also only achieved amid hardship and refinement.
from “Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Faced with man’s state and man’s attitude toward God, God has done new work, allowing man to possess both knowledge of and obedience toward Him, and both love and testimony. Thus, man must experience God’s refinement of him, as well as His judgment, dealing and pruning of him, without which man would never know God and would never be capable of truly loving and bearing witness to Him. God’s refinement of man is not merely for the sake of a one-sided effect, but for the sake of a multi-faceted effect. Only in this way does God do the work of refinement in those who are willing to seek the truth, in order that their resolve and love be made perfect by God. To those who are willing to seek the truth and who yearn for God, nothing is more meaningful, or of greater assistance, than refinement such as this. God’s disposition is not so easily known or understood by man, for God, in the end, is God. Ultimately, it is impossible for God to have the same disposition as man, and thus it is not easy for man to know His disposition. The truth is not inherently possessed by man, and is not easily understood by those who have been corrupted by Satan; man is devoid of the truth, and of the resolve to put the truth into practice, and if he does not suffer and is not refined or judged, then his resolve will never be made perfect. For all people, refinement is excruciating, and very difficult to accept—yet it is during refinement that God makes plain His righteous disposition to man, and makes public His requirements for man, and provides more enlightenment, and more actual pruning and dealing; through the comparison between the facts and the truth, He gives man a greater knowledge of himself and the truth, and gives man a greater understanding of God’s will, thus allowing man to have a truer and purer love of God. Such are God’s aims in carrying out refinement. All the work that God does in man has its own aims and significance; God does not do meaningless work, and nor does He do work that is without benefit to man. Refinement does not mean removing people from before God, and nor does it mean destroying them in hell. Rather, it means changing man’s disposition during refinement, changing his intentions, his old views, changing his love for God, and changing his whole life. Refinement is a real test of man, and a form of real training, and only during refinement can his love serve its inherent function.
from “Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The greater God’s refinement, the more people’s hearts are able to love God. The torment in their hearts is of benefit to their lives, they are more able to be at peace before God, their relationship with God is closer, and they are better able to see God’s supreme love and His supreme salvation. Peter experienced refinement hundreds of times, and Job underwent several trials. If you wish to be made perfect by God, you too must undergo refinement hundreds of times; only if you go through this process and rely upon this step will you be able to satisfy God’s will and be made perfect by God. Refinement is the best means by which God makes people perfect; only refinement and bitter trials can bring out the true love for God in people’s hearts. Without hardship, people lack true love for God; if they are not tested within, if they are not truly subjected to refinement, then their hearts will always be floating around outside. Having been refined to a certain point, you will see your own weaknesses and difficulties, you will see how much you are lacking and that you are unable to overcome the many problems you encounter, and you will see how great is your disobedience. Only during trials are people able to truly know their real states; trials make people better able to be perfected.
During his lifetime, Peter experienced refinement hundreds of times and underwent many painful ordeals. This refinement became the foundation of his supreme love of God, and the most significant experience of his entire life. That he was able to possess a supreme love of God was, in one sense, because of his resolve to love God; more importantly, however, it was because of the refinement and suffering that he underwent. This suffering became his guide on the path of loving God, and the thing that was most memorable to him. If people do not undergo the pain of refinement when loving God, then their love is full of impurities and their own preferences; love such as this is full of the ideas of Satan, and fundamentally incapable of satisfying God’s will. Having the resolve to love God is not the same as truly loving God. Even though all that they think of in their hearts is for the sake of loving and satisfying God, and even though their thoughts seem to be entirely devoted to God and devoid of any human ideas, yet when their thoughts are brought before God, He does not commend or bless such thoughts. Even when people have fully understood all truths—when they have come to know them all—this cannot be said to be a sign of loving God, it cannot be said that these people actually love God. Despite having understood many truths without undergoing refinement, people are incapable of putting these truths into practice; only during refinement can people understand the real meaning of these truths, only then can people genuinely appreciate their inner meaning. At that time, when they try again, they are able to put the truths into practice properly, and in accordance with God’s will; at that time, their human ideas are lessened, their human corruption is reduced, and their human emotions are diminished; only at that time is their practice a true manifestation of the love of God.
from “Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
When God works to refine man, man suffers. The greater a person’s refinement, the greater their love of God will be, and the more of God’s might will be revealed in them. Conversely, the less refinement a person receives, the less their love of God will grow, and the less God’s might will be revealed in them. The greater such a person’s refinement and pain and the more torment they experience, the deeper their love of God will grow, the more genuine their faith in God will become, and the more profound their knowledge of God will be. In your experiences, you will see people who suffer greatly as they are refined, who are dealt with and disciplined much, and you will see that it is those people who have a deep love for God and a more profound and penetrating knowledge of God. Those who have not experienced being dealt with have but a superficial knowledge, and they can only say: “God is so good, He bestows grace upon people so that they can enjoy Him.” If people have experienced being dealt with and disciplined, then they are able to speak about the true knowledge of God. So the more wondrous God’s work in man is, the more valuable and significant it is. The more impenetrable it is to you and the more incompatible it is with your notions, the more God’s work is able to conquer you, gain you, and make you perfect. How great is the significance of God’s work! If God did not refine man in this way, if He did not work according to this method, then His work would be ineffectual and without significance. It was said in the past that God would select and gain this group, and make them complete in the last days; in this, there is extraordinary significance. The greater the work He carries out within you, the deeper and purer your love for God. The greater the work of God, the more man is able to grasp something of His wisdom and the deeper is man’s knowledge of Him.
from “Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
God can perfect man in both positive and negative aspects. It depends on whether you are able to experience, and on whether you pursue being perfected by God. If you truly seek being perfected by God, then the negative cannot make you suffer loss, but can bring you things that are more real, and can make you more able to know that which is lacking within you, more able to grasp your real state, and see that man has nothing, and is nothing; if you do not experience trials, you do not know, and will always feel that you are above others and better than everyone else. Through all this you will see that all that came before was done by God and protected by God. Entry into trials leaves you without love or faith, you lack prayer and are unable to sing hymns, and without realizing it, in the midst of this you come to know yourself. God has many means of perfecting man. He employs all manner of environments to deal with the corrupt disposition of man, and uses various things to lay man bare; in one regard, He deals with man, in another He lays man bare, and in another He reveals man, digging out and revealing the “mysteries” in the depths of man’s heart, and showing man his nature by revealing many of his states. God perfects man through many methods—through revelation, through dealing with man, through man’s refinement, and chastisement—so that man may know that God is practical.
from “Only Those Who Focus on Practice Can Be Perfected” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In their belief in God, what people seek is to obtain blessings for the future; this is their goal in their faith. All people have this intent and hope, but the corruption in their nature must be resolved through trials. In whichever aspects you are not purified, these are the aspects in which you must be refined—this is God’s arrangement. God creates an environment for you, forcing you to be refined there so that you can know your own corruption. Ultimately, you reach a point at which you would rather die and give up your schemes and desires, and submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangement. Therefore, if people do not have several years of refinement, if they do not endure a certain amount of suffering, they will not be able to rid themselves of the bondage of corruption of the flesh in their thoughts and in their hearts. In whichever aspects you are still subject to Satan’s bondage, and in whichever aspects you still have your own desires and your own demands, these are the aspects in which you should suffer. Only through suffering can lessons be learned, which means being able to gain truth, and understand God’s will. In fact, many truths are understood by experiencing painful trials. Nobody can comprehend God’s will, recognize God’s almightiness and wisdom, or appreciate God’s righteous disposition when in a comfortable and easy environment or when circumstances are favorable. That would be impossible!
from “How One Should Satisfy God Amidst Trials” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days