In the work of expansion, only a minority of people can abandon everything and abandon their families, to the extent where they feel they will not return home for ten years, or a lifetime, and do not feel any suffering because of this; this is the strength that is given to people by the Holy Spirit. But this level cannot be reached through a person’s stature, because people do not possess the truth, only some sincerity to expend for God. If people have some resolution to seek the truth, and the Holy Spirit then gives them some grace, then they will feel especially gratified and will have a kind of strength, so will be able to come forth and expend for God—this is the grace of God. But there are some people who do not follow the correct path while doing their duty, they are not seeking the truth in the slightest and are even misbehaving, and in that case the Holy Spirit doesn’t work on them. That is, the person is not right, and even if the Holy Spirit had once been working on them, that work will be ruined, and they will inadvertently follow the downhill path. If a person has the resolution to seek the truth, then the Holy Spirit will give him grace to be enjoyed, and he can go forth in pursuit along the path of the Holy Spirit; the truth will become more and more clear to him, his resolution will become more and more steady, and the Holy Spirit’s work on him will become increasingly easy. If people do not walk the right path then the Holy Spirit will, in the end, eliminate them, and after being eliminated, their original resolution, their original passion, and their strength to abandon and expend will disappear, and they will not be able to keep from saying, “Why did I ever believe in God? If I hadn’t believed in God, would I be facing all of this now?” When these regrets, complaints, and negativity come out, the Holy Spirit will have already stopped working. Even though these people can still be used to preach the gospel or do other work, what they will be doing will not be of the work of the Holy Spirit, nor will it be enlightened by or guided by the Holy Spirit. It will just be done relying on the little bit of intelligence and education they have. Although they will be able to do these outward things that are achievable by the flesh, it will not represent the guidance of the Holy Spirit, nor will it represent the mind of the Holy Spirit. Just like a service-doer, even if the Holy Spirit is not working on him, a person can still render service for some period. After all, he has the ideas of a person, the brain of a person, the thinking of a person; he is different from a cow, horse, or donkey—he has human thinking and belongs to a higher level of animal, and at the least can do some things which the average person can do. He has just gone down the wrong path; he is not seeking the truth, or salvation, or to reciprocate God’s love, so as he walks he finds that his path runs out, and has no choice but to go home and live a simple family life. Currently, many people are saying this: “I know that I am bad by nature! I am intensely sentimental, and I have rebelled too much.” No matter what they say, they do not know their own nature, nor do they understand any aspect of the truth; no matter how well they can speak of doctrine and seem to understand everything, they are unable to put anything into practice, and this is enough to prove that the work of the Holy Spirit on them has already disappeared. Therefore, no matter what your humanity is like or how much doctrine you understand, how much suffering you have endured or how much you have forsaken, if the Holy Spirit is not working on you then everything will be ended. Without the work of the Holy Spirit a person is stupid; how much strength could a person have then? How much faith? What use would a person’s knowledge be? Take being in prison for example: From when people first began believing in God people have encountered this; they are often persecuted and hunted, fleeing everywhere. These experiences engraved, within each person’s thought and heart, the indelible imprint: “I must be prepared; I cannot be a Judas.” Haven’t most people prepared for this? “I cannot be a Judas, I absolutely cannot speak about church business.” But when a mishap befalls you, you may act involuntarily. A person does not become a Judas in a moment of confusion. It has been said before that how you will be in the end first must be determined by whether you are approved of by God.
To see if you have God’s approval it is mainly to look at things such as whether you have the Holy Spirit working on you, if the Holy Spirit enlightens you and guides you, and if you are accompanied by some grace. When some people first started out they were full of energy, as though they would never run out when they began performing their duty. But how come as they go along they seem to lose that energy? The person they were then and the person they are now are like two different people. Why did they change? What was the reason? It is because their faith in God went the wrong way before it got on the right track. They chose the wrong path. There was something hidden inside their initial pursuit, and at a key moment that thing emerged. What was hidden? It’s an anticipation that lies inside their hearts while they believe in God, the anticipation that the day of God is arriving soon so that their misery will be at an end; the anticipation that God will be transfigured and that all of their suffering will be over. They all look forward to the day when they can return home to reunite with their families, when there is no more persecution, when they are completely free, when they can openly believe in God without any restrictions by others, and everyone can live in a comfortable environment where they can dress well and eat well. Don’t you all have this hope? These thoughts exist in the depths of all your hearts because man’s flesh isn’t willing to suffer and looks forward to better days whenever it goes through suffering. These things won’t be revealed without the right[a] conditions. When there’s no situation, everyone will seem particularly fine, appear to especially have stature, understand the truth rather well, and seem exceptionally full of energy. One day, when a situation arises, all of these thoughts will come out. Your mind will begin to struggle, and some will start to head downhill. This is not to say that God doesn’t open up a way out for you, or that God doesn’t give you His grace, and certainly not that God is inconsiderate toward your difficulties. It’s that enduring this pain now is your blessing, because you must withstand such suffering to be saved and survive, and it is predestined. So for this suffering to befall you is your blessing. Do not think that this is a simple thing; this is not just something for playing around with people and making them suffer; the meaning behind it is too deep, too significant. If you never get married your whole life, or never return home all your life, those will be significant things. If the path you are going along is correct, if what you seek is correct, then in the end what you obtain will be more than that of the saints of the ages, and the promises that you inherit will be greater. Currently some people are thinking: “Oh! Will God truly remember all of this suffering I am enduring? If by any chance there is no one to support me in the end, what will I do? Who will take care of me if I am sick? Is God aware? When will the suffering end? When will the light of day arrive?” People are always expecting these things yet do not ponder the question: What is the significance of our suffering? People are always yearning for God to be transfigured so they can rid themselves of suffering. Everyone has their own selfish plans, and in the end it’s in man’s nature to betray God; there are no people that really love God, no person who desires God, wants to live together with God; they cannot wait for God to leave the earth. “No matter how much God has suffered, so long as He leaves and we can be rid of this suffering, then it will be fine.” Why do people say that? These days many people have this expectation: “If God leaves, we will then reign as kings and will no longer experience this suffering; the great red dragon will also be finished, and we should use a rod of iron to rule over all nations and all peoples, and won’t we then see the light of day?” Some people even think to themselves: “Husband, children, relatives, friends—you are all devils persecuting me. One day our God will appear publicly and punish you. You will see that only the path we follow is the correct path.” Even though this hope is not unjust, there is something wrong with some conditions within people. There is no one who plans to go down this road for a lifetime, seeking the truth to gain life[b] and to understand God, and living a meaningful life like Peter in the end. Therefore, people deviate on their path, they lose the work of the Holy Spirit along the way, and the Holy Spirit is no longer working within them, and they walk backward; all of the hard work from believing during the previous eight or nine years is totally ruined—this is a very dangerous thing! Suffering so much, listening to so many sermons, going along for so many years, all is in vain; this is so dangerous! It is easy to go downhill, but it is difficult to go uphill and choose the right road that a person should walk. Most people’s heads are clouded! They cannot choose clearly which is the right path and which is a deviation. After hearing many sermons and reading many of God’s words, they know He is God, but they still do not believe; they know it is the true path, but they still cannot walk down it; how difficult it is to save people! How can you know that He is God but not believe in Him? Aren’t you a kind of Satan? We won’t talk about your nature, but what kind of thing are you, why are you so foolish? You know it is the true path yet you don’t seek it, you understand the truth but you are unable to practice it, so are you not Satan? In your mind there is no life purpose, life direction, nor any of the things of a genuine man; you’re just like an animal. Therefore, for some people, it is not that the Holy Spirit deliberately does not work on them or deliberately reveals them, it is that there is no way for Him to work on them. People are too corrupt, too difficult to deal with, and do not choose the right path, so how can the Holy Spirit work on them? Each time the Holy Spirit works He gives people the room to make their own choices, and never forces anyone. But man’s heart is too foolish; they do not love the truth, they are not willing to walk the path of suffering, and they are not willing to expend any effort or pay the price. People only care about what is in front of them, and they are too selfish. If there is something in front of them that they can see and enjoy, then they will seek that, reach for it, and they will ignore those things they cannot see or which they deem meaningless; this is the situation for most people, and there is barely any room for the Holy Spirit to work on them. Some people say: “How can I resolve this difficulty? Maybe it will help if I find someone who understands to talk to me.” And what happens after someone else finishes talking to them? They agree that the situation is like that, and they understand on a doctrinal level, but they say they are unable to put it into practice. If you cannot practice it then what’s the point in telling you about it? You should step aside! You do not deserve to hear the truth! You do not deserve to believe in God! You should just wait to perish! Since what you have chosen is the ugly, despicable, devilish path, no matter how much truth is spoken to you, you will not love it, so you should just step aside! There’s no need to say anything to this type of person. These days it is often heard: “I understand everything, I just can’t put it into practice.” These words are proof that that person is a devil, and is entirely of the brood of Satan. A person who does not love the truth is surely an evil person; what a person loves, hopes for, yearns for and thirsts for is a complete representation of that person’s nature. If you do not love the truth then you belong to the devil, you are an object for destruction; if you love the truth then you are the one predestined and chosen by God; is this not clear? The path that a person chooses is key. You can ponder calmly and carefully, and it is not too late to repent. If you have resolution, then that is a good thing; those who do not have resolution are the lowest of the low. At the very least you need to have resolution; as for how you can reach what you are resolved to do, how you can complete what you are resolved to do, there must be a path for this. First of all, you must understand the truth, know the destination that will follow for mankind, know the path that mankind should walk and the goals they should reach. It has been said, “Everything is in the hands of God.” You may experience these words, and measure all things against them. Now that you believe in God, should you be obedient to God? What is the significance of belief in God? Is belief in God simply to receive blessings? You now walk on this path, but will you be able to persevere until the end? How will you walk it in the future? When encountering difficulties, you should have some maxims of truth to encourage yourself, so that you will not falter, will not become weak, will not be negative, will not complain about God, and will not sin against God—you must understand all of these things clearly. When people are happy, they say: “I am willing to expend effort for God, I will expend for God my whole life.” But perhaps at a certain time when they encounter setbacks, they will become negative, and say to themselves: “What God? I can’t go on believing in Him. This road is too difficult!” After praying, there is blame: “Ah, I am indebted to God!” Knowing you are indebted to God, you should no longer act like that. Then perhaps one day will come when you will face an unfortunate event and again be negative, again complaining about God: “Why has God arranged these circumstances for me, why is He always making me suffer? Why can’t He stop me from suffering?” People always complain, and also say that they are indebted to God. They never change. When facing a setback or even something unpleasant there will be resentment and annoyance, and most seriously there will even be some people who say some words of blasphemy and judgment; later they will feel it was wrong to speak that way, and feel sorry about it, and quickly try to perform some duties and do some good things in order to make up for it. What does all this show? Man’s nature is ugly, they are unreasonable and senseless. Just like engaging in business deals, when they need God they will pull Him close, and when they do not need Him they will move away from Him and resist Him, doing what makes themselves happy. Man is arrogant and presumptuous, and has no fear. He has no real hate nor any real love in his heart, no distinction between righteousness and unrighteousness; he has no boundaries. He has no goals, much less does he have any principles or sense of propriety when doing anything. The heart of man is very ugly. Against this backdrop, people still look forward to the promises they will receive, the blessings they will obtain, how they will take the limelight or the pleasure they will experience. Only when they think of these things do they think: “Ah, how lovely God is! I must repay God’s love!” Why do they say “lovely”? Wherefrom do they say “repay”? Is it said with intent? They are sentimental words spoken in a mood of momentary fancy and happiness, but do they count as true understanding? Is this true love? Does it come from deep within your heart? If you genuinely have this understanding, then why do you still complain? If you really feel indebted to God then why do you complain and say the following? “God, You have not been good to me, You have ignored me, You haven’t been nice to me, so I will not pay any attention to You! You don’t need me, so I won’t work for You anymore!” People have so much resentment within them! Finally, they still think: “I love God! I love God more than others do.” How is this a practical love of God? That people can say this proves that they do not know their own nature, do not know what they are, what they are of, and that they cannot take their own measure. Actually it is in everyone’s nature to resist and betray God; this is something that everyone has in common and they all have these things within them. There is no one who truly loves that which is worthy of being loved, and even more so there is no one who hates that which should be hated; they have no boundaries and even less any vision, within them there is no distinction between righteousness and unrighteousness, no distinction between black and white, and even less any distinction between truth and doctrine or heresy; they are not able to discern between any of these things. People are not clear on what is worthy of love, what is worth seeking, and what should be hated, and they cannot be considered as having discernment. When people of the world sing the song, “Come Back Home Often,” some people are lured away. What do people have within them? Do they have any truth? Some people think that they can do some work, that they have some qualifications, and seem to have some truth—actually, they don’t have anything, and they are nothing! Though you can speak some doctrine to others now, perhaps someday in the future you will be coaxed by others, and you will falter more grievously than anyone else, and you will be more severely afflicted by negativity than anyone else. Do you believe this? Are you convinced of this matter? It is perhaps that you have not yet experienced being seriously dispirited or a great fall, and you think you are pretty strong. Without that experience you think you have great stature, but perhaps one day when you are exposed, you will cry and say, “I’m finished, just finished.” You begin to go from one extreme to another. You can see that, in the beginning, many people are full of energy, but perhaps they come to face something which makes them suddenly weak, and they are never able to get up again. Have you discovered any problems with these people? The strength or weakness of each person is not something they can control themselves. The things hidden within people can come out at any time and any place. There is no small amount of dirty garbage existing within people, and it comes out in an endless stream! Therefore, the nature of people is Satan’s nature—there is no difference at all—and it is completely different from the substance of God. In the beginning, God said: “I can hate man forever, and I can also love man forever.” That is, He has standards, He comes to His own conclusions, and has a basis on which He comes to these conclusions. He has His judgments, measurements and standards for what He loves and hates, what makes Him happy and what He detests. People do not have these things so they will deviate when they walk, will be capricious and, with no one to guide them, they will always go in the wrong direction. Some people are still always hoping: “When is God leaving the earth? Hurry up and leave! After experiencing His work these few years, I should get married but I find I can’t; you see, this is what I get for believing in God all these years!” The responsibility is then all put on God. They are completely unaware of what they have gotten during those years, and what it is worth. Were it not for the work of God incarnate, then the Chinese people would have long ago become extinct; perhaps this is something that some will not believe. If you don’t believe it, then that means you are not understanding things thoroughly, but this is the fact. People even think: “Without God to guide us, we can still walk the path. We’ve read this book so many times, it is outlined in our minds, and we understand the principles, so we can take the helm.” Can you really take the helm? You cannot walk on the right path, and you deviate after walking a little way, so can you still enter reality? You still haven’t yet been convinced. It can be said that anyone will deviate if they don’t have this kind of guidance. Was the Holy Spirit working in the Age of Grace? Did not the Holy Spirit work? How many denominations were separated out afterward? There were unimaginable denominations of every hue, even those whose names cannot be imagined or recalled. What is the problem with this? The things of people’s nature that are inside them must be understood thoroughly, and there must also be understanding of people’s essence. Understanding and seeing thoroughly does not mean you should always be stuck there, but rather it means that from there you must arise and seek the truth, read the words of God to know the nature of man, to understand the substance of man, and make effort with the truth; only this way will you walk the right path. The word of God brings to light and reveals the nature of man, and lets people know what their substance is. It is very important to see through the corrupt substance of man. See, Satan is a cryptic thing. God asked it: “From where come you?” and Satan answered: “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” If you listen carefully to this statement of Satan’s “from walking up and down in the earth,” you will wonder, is it coming or going? Therefore, this statement is a cryptic statement, and from this statement Satan can be judged as a cryptic being. After people are corrupted by Satan they too become cryptic; when doing things they have no criteria, no standards, and no principles, and therefore everyone easily goes astray. When Satan tempted Eve, it said: “Why don’t you eat the fruit on that tree?” Eve answered, “God said that if I eat that tree’s fruit, I will die.” Satan then said, “You won’t necessarily die if you eat the fruit from that tree.” The intention of this statement of Satan’s was to tempt; it did not say for sure that by eating the fruit from the tree man wouldn’t die, it just said that man wouldn’t necessarily die, and this caused man to think: “If I won’t necessarily die, it should be fine to eat it!” Man could not resist the temptation to eat the fruit. In this way, Satan reached its goal of tempting man into committing a sin; it did not take responsibility, because it did not force anyone to eat it. Now all people have within them the poisons of Satan which test God and tempt man. Sometimes when people speak they speak in the tones of Satan, with the intention to test and tempt. All the thoughts and ideas that fill people are the poisons of Satan, the manner they bear is a thing of Satan, and sometimes a wink or gesture carries a whiff of testing and temptation. Many people say: “I believe in God and I follow in this way, so I’m bound to obtain something. I do not seek the truth but I follow until the end, and I use all my strength to expend effort and to abandon things in the course of my duties. Even if I commit some transgressions, I can still obtain something.” They do not know what they are saying. With so much corruption within people, how can they change if they do not seek the truth? With the degree of corruption man has, if there is no protection from God, then one can falter and betray God at any time. Do you believe that? Even if you force yourself, you still cannot make it to the end because the final stage is to make a group of overcomers; can it be as easy as you imagine? In the end it is not necessary for people to change 100 percent or 80 percent, but at least there needs to be a 30 or 40 percent change; at the very least you must dig out the things that are embedded deep inside you and change them, and you can reach God’s requirement of 30 or 40 percent, or better yet reach a 60 to 70 percent change, meaning that you possess some truth within you, that you have some things that are compatible with God within you, and that when you encounter some issues it will not be easy for you to resist God, and it will not be easy to offend God’s disposition. In this way, in the end, you will be perfected, and be commended. Some people always think: “Isn’t believing in God just attending meetings, singing songs, listening to the word of God, praying, doing some duties? Isn’t that what it’s like?” No matter how long you have been believers in God, you still haven’t understood thoroughly the significance of belief in God. In fact, the significance of belief in God is incredibly deep, and people have not thought thoroughly about it. In the end, the things within people that are of Satan, and the things of their nature must change, and must become compatible with the requirements of the truth; only this is truly achieving salvation. If you are like what you were in the religion—just shouting some words of doctrine or shouting some slogans, and then doing some actions and good behaviors, and not committing any sins, not committing any obvious sins—this still does not mean that you have entered onto the right track of believing in God. Just because you can abide by the rules, does that mean you are walking the correct path? Does this mean you have chosen correctly? If the things within your nature have not changed and in the end you are still resisting God and offending God, then this is the largest of problems. If you believe in God but do not resolve this problem, then can you be considered as having been saved? What does it mean, Me saying this? It is to make you all understand in your hearts that a belief in God cannot be separated from God’s words, from God, or from the truth. You must choose your path well, put effort into the truth and put effort into God’s words. Do not just have some half-baked knowledge and then consider yourself done, or just understand them more or less. If you go about things in a slapdash way, you will only hurt yourself. A person should not deviate in their belief in God; if in the end there is no God in their heart, and they merely hold a book glancing at it without having a space for God in their heart, then they are finished. What does, “Man’s belief in God cannot be separated from God’s words” mean? Do you understand? Does it contradict, “A belief in God cannot be separated from God”? How can you have God in your heart if God’s words are not within your heart? If you believe in God but God is not in your heart, nor are God’s words, nor is God’s guidance, then you are utterly finished. If you are unable to do a small thing according to God’s requirement, then when you face a big matter of principle you will be even less able to fulfill God’s requirement. This means you have no testimony, and this is troublesome, and it proves that you have nothing. There are many things that cannot be explained in detail, and only one day when the Holy Spirit enlightens you will you understand completely. Right now I can only use a statement that people will think is really ordinary and also not very logical to express. Do you know that in this country, while you can undergo these sufferings and enjoy the work of God, foreigners really envy you all? The wishes of foreigners are: We also want to experience the work of God, we will suffer anything for it. We want to obtain the truth too! We also want to gain some insight, gain some stature, but unfortunately we do not have that chance. They think that Chinese people are so blessed, but you think that they are the ones who are blessed, and you envy them; this is indeed what living in blessing but not being able to feel it is. Making this group of people complete in the country of the great red dragon, making them endure this suffering, can be said to be the greatest exaltation. It was once said: “I have moved the glory of Israel to the East.” Do you all understand the meaning of this statement now? How should you walk the path ahead? How should you seek the truth? If you do not seek the truth then how can you obtain the work of the Holy Spirit? Once you lose the work of the Holy Spirit, then you will be in the most danger. The suffering at present is insignificant. Do you know what it will do for you?
a. The original text omits “right.”
b. Here “life” means “human life.”