Only With True Obedience Can One Have Real Trust
What is faith in God? This is the most practical question, as well as the most basic truth that a believer must understand. Is faith in God a kind of conviction, or is it a direction and goal in a person’s life? In your heart, what is the ultimate purpose of faith? Why do you want to have faith in God? That is, what is your belief? What is the basis and foundation of your faith in God? What is your motivation? In other words, what intention and purpose do you have in believing in God? What is it ultimately for? These are the most practical questions. You can say that people believe in and accept God for the purpose of gaining blessings. People believe in God in order to have something upon which to pin their hopes, long for, and pursue in the realm of thought and spirit. This is the original intention behind all people’s faith in God. However, after people come to believe in God, after they come into contact with God’s words, the truth, God’s work, and all the various people, events and things under God’s sovereignty, unconsciously, their views on faith change. Once they understand the truth to a certain extent, they come to realize that faith in God allows them to gain the truth, that faith is what is most significant, that faith can indeed change people in many respects and ultimately solve the problem of human corruption. To have faith in God, you must first figure out the following questions: Why do people believe in God? What is the purpose of believing in God? What is the motivation to believe in God? What is the initial desire and aspiration in believing in God? How much thought have you given to these questions? Do you have the correct answers? (At first, I believed in God out of a desire to gain blessings. Upon experiencing some judgment and chastisement from God’s words, I saw that I only pursued blessings, that I really had no conscience or sense, and was too selfish. I felt that I had been profoundly corrupted by Satan, and so I longed to be someone possessing conscience and sense, someone who could assume the proper place of a created being and follow God. Currently, I only possess this little bit of knowledge.) When people start believing in God, they always want to gain grace, to gain blessings and benefits, to satisfy various wants and desires of the spirit and the flesh. Since the beginning of their faith when they pursued such things, they have suffered much, and now they understand that the significance of faith goes beyond these things. The significance of faith is too profound and too practical, and the benefits they receive are too many to be summed up in a few words. To have faith in God, one must first solve the problems of man’s corrupt disposition and sin, as well as achieve obedience to and knowledge of God. Only in this way can one truly cast off one’s corrupt disposition and escape from Satan’s influence so as to turn completely to God. The purpose of believing in God and following God is to gain from God the truth and life, ultimately becoming a person who conforms to God’s will and is able to obey and worship God. This is the true meaning of faith. Looking at people’s understanding of faith, we can see that their views, intentions, and motivations as to their faith have undergone a great change. What brought about this change? (It is the result of God’s expression of the truth and all the work He has done on people.) That is right. This change is not the result of the mere passage of time, nor is it imposed on you by anyone, nor is it the result of the influence or contagion of any religious teachings, much less did the goodness of your heart move Heaven to change you into a better, more human-like person. These are all human notions and imaginings. In fact, the most practical benefit gained is that, guided by God’s words, watered and shepherded by God’s words, people come to understand the truth and understand God’s will, can clearly see the darkness and evil among men, and their ideas and views are greatly changed. What brings about these changes? They are the result of the gradual and piecemeal experience of God’s work and God’s words. So then, what do these changes involve? They involve the greatest matter of faith—the matter of salvation. This is the ultimate significance of man’s faith. In fact, people do not demand much of faith. Their aim is simply to gain grace and seek peace. Then, this changes to a desire to be good people rather than bad people, and finally, they just want to receive a good destination. However, herein lies the biggest question: What effect does God actually want to achieve in His work of judgment and purification and His salvation of man? This is what people should understand. In God’s work to save man, what does He use to accomplish this salvation? He uses their understanding of the truth and His words, and then their experience of judgment and chastisement, trials and refinements, freeing them from sin and Satan’s influence. When all is said and done, what is the ultimate significance of people’s faith? Simply put, it is in order to be saved. And what is the significance of salvation? I want you all to think it over and tell Me what it really means to be saved. (It means that we can break free from Satan’s dark influence, turn completely to God, and ultimately, survive.) (People who live under the power of Satan deserve death, but people who are saved by experiencing God’s work will not die.) You all understand this and can explain it at the level of doctrine, but you simply don’t know what it really is to be saved. Is being saved casting off your corrupt disposition? Does being saved mean not lying, being an honest person and ceasing to rebel against God? What is it actually like to be saved? In plain terms, being saved means that you will be able to live on, that you have been brought back to life. You were once living in sin, and bound for death—as God sees it, you were a dead person. What is the basis for saying this? Under whose power do people live before they have attained salvation? (Under the power of Satan.) And what do people rely on to live under Satan’s power? They rely on their satanic nature and corrupt dispositions to live. Then is their whole being—their flesh, and all other aspects such as their spirits and their thoughts—alive or dead? From God’s point of view, they are dead, they are walking corpses. On the surface, you appear to be breathing and thinking, but everything you are constantly thinking about is evil, in defiance of God and in rebellion against God, all of your thoughts are of things that God detests, hates, and condemns. In God’s eyes, all these things not only belong to the flesh, but they entirely belong to Satan and to devils. So, in God’s eyes, is corrupt mankind even human? No, they are beasts, devils and Satan; they are Satan alive! All people live by Satan’s nature and its disposition, and as God sees it, they are Satan alive and garbed in human flesh, devils in human skin. God characterizes such people as walking corpses, as the dead. God is now doing the work of salvation, which means He will take the walking corpses that live by Satan’s corrupt disposition and its corrupt essence—the dead—and turn them into living people. That is the significance of being saved. One believes in God in order to be saved—what is it to be saved? When one attains God’s salvation, they are the dead become living. Where once they belonged to Satan, slated to die, they have now come to life as people belonging to God. If people can obey God, know Him, and bow down to Him in worship when they believe in and follow God, if they have no more resistance and rebelliousness against God in their hearts, and will no longer resist or attack Him, and can truly submit to Him, then in God’s eyes, they are true living people. Is one who merely acknowledges God in word a living person? (No.) What sort of person is a living person, then? What are the realities of living people? What must living people be possessed of? Tell Me your opinions. (People who can accept the truth are living persons. When people’s ideological views and views concerning things change and align with the word of God, they are living people.) (Living people are those who understand the truth and can practice the truth.) (A person who fears God and shuns evil like Job is a living person.) (People who know God, can live according to God’s words, and can live out the truth reality—those are living people.) You have all spoken of one sort of manifestation. For someone ultimately to be saved and become a living person, they must at least be able to heed God’s words, and able to speak words of conscience and sense, and they must be thinking and discerning, able to understand the truth and to practice it, able to submit to God and worship Him. That is what a true living person is. What do living people often think about and do? They can do a bit of what normal people ought to do. Mainly, they perform their duties well, and they fear God and shun evil in what they think of and pour forth, what they say and do on a regular basis. That is the nature of what they often think and do. To put it a bit more precisely, what they say and do by and large accords with the truth, at the least. It is not condemned by God or detested and rejected by Him, but acknowledged and approved of by Him. This is what living people do, and it is what they ought to do. If you merely acknowledge God with your mouth and believe in your heart, can you achieve God’s approval and salvation? (No.) Why can’t you? Some people say, “I believe there is a God,” “I believe in God’s sovereignty over all things and the fate of mankind,” “I believe that everything about me is in God’s hands, that I have been led by God for the better part of my life, and that God can likewise lead me on my future path,” and “I believe that God can change my destiny.” Does having such “faith” mean they are saved? (No.) So what kind of faith means people are truly saved? (Faith that allows them to fear God and shun evil like Job.) How can people come to possess such genuine faith? Verbal acknowledgment and believing in their hearts: Can belief such as this produce a heart that fears God and shuns evil? Does believing like this mean that people have knowledge of God? Can it allow people to achieve obedience to God? Can it achieve salvation? What else is missing here? These questions must be pondered and understood.
Is there any difference between belief, conviction, and genuine faith? (Yes.) There are certainly differences, and you have to figure out what the precise differences are. If you can’t distinguish these things, you may feel that you have genuine faith in God when you only have a vague belief or a conviction. How can vague conviction substitute for your genuine faith in God? In fact, instead of having real trust, you have put your own convictions and beliefs in its place. If your faith in God is nothing more than a belief or a conviction, then you can never truly come before God, and God does not approve of such faith as yours. What are the differences between belief, conviction, and genuine faith? Belief and conviction are not easy to explain clearly, so let’s talk about genuine faith first. What is genuine faith in God? (Believing that all events and all things are under the sovereignty of God.) Is this genuine faith or a belief? (A belief.) (Genuine faith is established on a foundation of knowledge of God. Only when people know God can they possess genuine faith.) This understanding is only marginally correct. How can people come to possess genuine faith? What are the manifestations of genuine faith? If people have genuine faith, will they misunderstand or complain about God? Will they give any opposition to God? (No.) If people have genuine faith, will they rebel against God? Can people satisfy God when they try to do good and be good people based on their own notions and imaginings? (No.) Putting these three concepts of belief, conviction, and genuine faith to one side, let’s fellowship on one matter first. What did Peter famously do before he was saved and perfected? (Denied the Lord three times.) What else did Peter do before denying the Lord three times? When the Lord Jesus said that He would be crucified, what did Peter say? (“Be it far from You, Lord: this shall not be to You” (Matthew 16:22).) Was it genuine faith that caused Peter to say this? (No.) Then what was it? It was man’s good intentions, and it was a disruption of God’s work. Where did Peter get this sort of good intention? (From human will.) Why did he entertain such human will? He didn’t understand God’s will, he didn’t understand what the Lord Jesus’ ministry was, and he didn’t have a true understanding of the Lord Jesus. He merely followed the Lord out of admiration. He worshiped the Lord in his heart, so he wanted to love and protect the Lord. He thought, “This thing must never befall You. You can’t suffer that pain! If suffering is wanted, I will suffer. I will suffer in Your place.” He didn’t know God’s will, and he had something of the good intentions that come from human will and wanted to prevent the thing from happening. So what caused him to act in this way? In one respect, it was due to hotheadedness, human will, and a failure to understand. In another respect, he did not understand the work of God. Did he do this out of real trust? (No.) So why did he come to have such good intentions? Are such good intentions in line with the truth? Do they constitute good deeds? Although he sought to do good and acted from good intentions and sincerity, what was the nature of his actions? Were they behaviors and actions arising out of genuine faith? (No.) Now it is clear, the answer is absolutely not. So is this a belief? (Yes.) Let’s use this to talk about what belief is. Belief is a kind of good longing and good desire that is most closely aligned with human notions and imaginings. It is something mankind generally considers to be good, right, and positive. A kind of good thought, a sort of good idea, good practice, and good motivation that is completely in line with human notions and sentiments. It is what humans long for. This is belief. Belief is not genuine faith. It comes entirely from human will and does not conform to the standards required by God, so belief is not real trust. Peter was indeed a good man. He possessed a good humanity, and he was simple, honest, passionate, and earnest in his pursuit. In his heart, he harbored no doubts as to the identity of the Lord Jesus. Thus, from the bottom of his heart, he could utter these words: “Be it far from You, Lord: this shall not be to You.” That he could say such a thing shows his humanity and personality. Although this is a kind of desire, a kind of good intention, and it is only a kind of behavior, practice, and display arising from a kind of belief, we can see that Peter has a kind humanity. He held positive and right beliefs, but unfortunately, because he was too small of stature, knew too little about God, didn’t know God’s management plan, didn’t know the work God intended to do, and didn’t understand God’s will, he did a foolish thing that was completely based on human will and disrupted God’s work. It was a human action caused by belief, and was obviously not genuine faith. If someone holds such beliefs, which produce good behaviors and cause them to have some good intentions, will God remember the things they do? God does not remember these things, so they are done in vain! Instead, God said this: “Get you behind Me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23). Ponder this over. Why did the Lord Jesus speak words people find so inconsiderate? Why didn’t the Lord Jesus show understanding when He saw Peter’s good intentions? What was God’s attitude toward this matter? Did God approve of this good intention of Peter’s? (No.) God examined Peter’s heart and saw that he had no evil intentions, so He didn’t need to expose the essence of this matter. Is that okay? (No.) Why? What does God think when people’s intentions, beliefs, and thoughts are good, but do not align with God’s will? God says that such things come from Satan and are a resistance to God. This is what God believes. Is such thinking at odds with human ways of thinking? (Yes.) Acting from human affection, what would an average person do in response to Peter? They would allow Peter to save face and give him leeway, thinking in their heart, “Peter’s intentions are good and he wants to protect You. To reproach Peter in this way seems inconsiderate!” But God’s acts do not conform to human notions. What is the nature of the words spoken by God? In one respect, they are an exposure, in another, they are a condemnation, and in a third, they are a judgment. How did Peter feel upon hearing these words? He was chastised, and it was as if a knife was twisted into his heart. He felt terrible and did not understand, thinking to himself: “Oh God, I sincerely love You! I believe in You so much, love You so dearly, and want to protect You so much, but why do You treat me like this? You say that I am Satan and order me to stand behind You. Am I Satan? Aren’t I someone who sincerely follows You, so how can You see me as Satan? More than that, You are so inconsiderate, telling me to get behind You. It is too hurtful, too painful!” From God handling and treating such things in this way, can you see God’s attitude toward human belief? (Condemn, judge, and expose.) That is right. God not only dislikes such things, but hates them and, most seriously, condemns such things. From these things God has revealed, have you seen God’s disposition? (God’s disposition is righteous.) This is certainly so. And what else? For God, although tolerance, mercy, patience, and lovingkindness are very beneficial to people, although they are the parts of what God has and is that people find easier to accept, and although they are things God always reveals and bestows on people, once people offend God’s disposition and violate His principles, how will God deal with them? God condemns them! God does not make ambiguous statements to people, saying, “People did this with good intentions and no ulterior motives, so I will spare them this time.” Unlike man, God permits no middle way and allows no adulteration with human will. One is one, two is two. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. For God, there are no ambiguities. By dissecting what Peter said to the Lord Jesus, “Be it far from You, Lord: this shall not be to You,” people can see what belief is. Can people who hold beliefs satisfy God? Can beliefs produce genuine faith? Can they replace people’s genuine faith in God? (No.) No, that is absolutely true.
What are beliefs in the end? They are a kind of imagining and notion, good desires, good goals, and lofty ideals that people establish. After these things are established, people run in this direction, pursuing and attaining them by relying on human good intentions, human effort, human will to suffer, or more human good deeds. What is lacking here? Why is it that people who hold beliefs cannot satisfy God? (Based on their beliefs, people disrupt and disturb God’s work.) This is one obvious aspect. In addition, when people do things based on their beliefs, is there any truth in what they do? (No.) Let’s dissect what Peter did. Peter said, “Be it far from You, Lord: this shall not be to You.” Is there truth in these words? (No.) What does he mean by saying “this shall not be to You”? Why cannot this be to God? Could it be that all of this is not under God’s sovereignty? Does God not have the final say in all this? If God allows it to be, it will be. If God does not allow it to be, won’t it be avoided? Could Peter’s words, “this shall not be to You,” be able to change all of this? Who determined the occurrence, progression, and outcome of this whole matter? (It was determined by God.) So then, what are these words spoken by Peter? They are foolish words, words spoken in ignorance, words spoken on behalf of Satan. This is the consequence brought about by human beliefs. Is this a serious problem? (It is serious.) How serious is it? (It is resistance to God and acting as an outlet of Satan.) Correct. It is acting as Satan’s outlet, which means resisting God and tearing down God’s work on behalf of Satan. If, in the matter, the Lord Jesus did as Peter said, wouldn’t His work of redeeming mankind be ruined? What is the nature of these words spoken by Peter? (They disrupt God’s work.) This is why God mercilessly spoke those angry words—“Get you behind Me, Satan!” These words are a condemnation as well as a judgment. In them, lies God’s disposition! When people hold such beliefs, beliefs admixed with good intentions, human desires, beautiful human wishes, and all those things that humans hold to be positive, right, and good, does God approve of this? (No.) People see all these things as good, so why doesn’t God give His approval? In one respect, it is because people do not have true knowledge of God. This is the general cause. In addition, from a practical point of view, people do not truly submit to the words spoken by God and the acts performed by Him, nor do they truly comprehend these things. On the basis of human thinking, they always want God to not do this or not do that. They always think, “It’s not really good for God to act like this. Acting like this is not what we would expect, it’s not very considerate to people.” When people encounter such things, they often develop notions, are full of man-made imaginings, and resort to all sorts of human ways of doing things. Here, there is no obedience, no true knowledge, no true fear of God, only a disruption and tearing down of God’s work. It lacks any element of genuine faith. Therefore, Peter was judged after he spoke those words. Did he gain anything after receiving judgment? (He was able to understand a bit more about himself and about God’s disposition.) Is such judgment a good or bad thing? At the very least, it was a hard knock on his head that made him stop and think, “Lord, am I Satan? I truly believe in You, I am one who loves You, I am Your faithful follower! How can I be Satan?” Pondering it over again, he thought, “The Lord Jesus rebuked me with such clear and plain words. He told me to get behind Him and rebuked me as Satan. This means that, in this matter, I acted in Satan’s stead! What sort of person can act on behalf of Satan? A person who is not compatible with God. Anytime and anywhere, such a person can resist and betray God, can tear down God’s work, and can disturb and wreck God’s work, becoming the enemy of God. This is awful! In that case, I will hurriedly retreat behind God and shut my mouth.” Doesn’t this show that Peter slowly came to his senses, gained understanding, and realized the seriousness of the problem? He realized that man is always man and God is always God, and between man and God, there is a distance. When man acts on the basis of good intentions, God sees this as a disruption and disturbance. By gradually proceeding in this way, does God’s judgment on man turn out to be a good thing? (Yes.) So is it a bad thing for a person to reveal a bit of foolishness? Looked at like this, it is not a bad thing, but a good thing. Why do we say it turns out to be a good thing? (People benefit from it.) Right, people gain some benefits. How do these benefits come about? When you are subject to God’s judgment and you submit to it, examine yourself, and accept everything that comes from God—all of God’s expressions, God’s revelations, and everything God requires of you—and it becomes your reality and becomes your life, then without even knowing it, your corruption will be cleansed away. So is being judged a bad thing or a good thing? (A good thing.) Are you willing to receive judgment? (We are willing.) So would it be okay if you were judged every day? This would not allow you to eat, sleep, or rest as normal. When something happened, God would tell you to step back. When He had the time, He would judge you. Would that be fine? Could you stand this? People would not be able to stand this, and God would not do such a thing. God earnestly wants you to grow and mature quickly. That is why there are many steps in God’s judgment. Sometimes He may become angry, and then offer you some comfort. Sometimes He may strike you, and then offer you mercy. Although God often becomes angry, there are intervals between His anger that give people time to catch their breath. Only when God directly judges and condemns people in this way will it help their growth in life. It is worth a bit of suffering to gain the truth.
People who only hold beliefs are far from being able to satisfy God’s will, and beliefs are far from an adequate substitute for genuine faith in God. If they have faith in God based on a belief, people can never truly come before God, let alone truly obey Him and possess a heart that fears God. Why is this? People’s beliefs have nothing to do with the truth, and are far from meeting God’s requirements. When people have beliefs, this does not mean that they understand the truth. With faith in God based on belief, people will never understand God’s work, and can only disrupt and disturb it. Faith based on belief does not mean that people will be mindful of God’s will, much less obey God. So then, what happened next to Peter? Before the Lord Jesus was crucified, He said this to Peter: “Truly I say to you, That this night, before the cock crow, you shall deny Me thrice” (Matthew 26:34). What did Peter say in response? (“Though I should die with You, yet will I not deny You” (Matthew 26:35).) This upset Peter, and he denied he would do as the Lord said, but in the end, the facts bore out the words of the Lord Jesus. Was Peter’s trust at that time greater or lesser than yours? (Greater, he cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in order to protect the Lord.) That was due to hotheadedness. His knowledge of the Lord Jesus and acknowledgment of His identity represent the degree of Peter’s faith in the Lord Jesus. This allowed him to fight desperately for the Lord Jesus, saying, “Whoever touches my Lord, I will risk my life to fight!” His faith had reached this level, but is it man’s hotheadedness that God wants? Certainly not. Peter’s faith reached the level where he would lay down his life for the Lord, but then why did Peter still deny the Lord three times? Was it because he was destined to do this by the prophecy of the Lord Jesus? (No.) So what was the reason? Why was he so cowardly? He could risk his life fighting others for the Lord Jesus and cut off someone’s ear. Out of his love for the Lord Jesus, he was able to speak those words from the bottom of his heart and act on them, which showed his exceptional sincerity. So, when the time came, why didn’t he dare to acknowledge the Lord? (Because he knew the consequences. If the Roman soldiers had caught him then, he would have been put to death. He was afraid of being caught and likewise afraid of death.) The main reason was his desire to save his life. It is true that Peter held beliefs, but did he have the elements of genuine faith? At that time, Peter had already realized that the Lord Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, and God Himself. He had such genuine faith, so why was he still so cowardly? (He lacked that stature.) He cherished his life and feared death, suffering, and physical torture. No matter what the reason was, in the end, he still denied the Lord three times. It was just as the Lord Jesus said, “That this night, before the cock crow, you shall deny Me thrice.” These words were indeed fulfilled in Peter. Why was the Lord Jesus able to say such things and come to such conclusions about Peter? (God sees the things deep within people’s hearts.) What did God see in Peter’s heart? (Peter’s stature and his faith in God.) The Lord Jesus saw Peter’s stature and the extent of his trust. With such a small stature, is it such a surprise that he denied the Lord three times? Due to his stature, it is inevitable that he would act as he did given the situation. Why did he only have that little bit of trust at the time? (At the time, Peter had followed the Lord Jesus for about three years, so he had experienced too little of God’s work.) After three years of following the Lord Jesus, his trust could only be so great. That was his stature at the time. His growth in stature was achieved through the continuous deepening of experience.
Is it okay to follow God without real trust? What does it actually mean for people to have genuine faith in God? To put this in the simplest possible terms: It is the extent of your trust in all of God’s words and work and the extent to which you can truly believe. Specifically, it is the extent to which, in your heart, you can believe and acknowledge the ultimate fulfillment and means of fulfillment of the words spoken by God, the things that God has ordained, God’s sovereignty, the orchestrations and arrangements of God, how God arranges the future destinations of people, and all other such things as well as the extent to which you have real trust in these things. At that time, Peter didn’t even dare to acknowledge the name of the Lord Jesus, or to acknowledge his relation to the Lord Jesus. He had only a little trust, and this little trust indicated his actual stature. What was his actual stature? (He only acknowledged the Lord Jesus to be the Christ, but he knew little of God.) He had such a small stature and could go no further than this. So as for you, to what degree do you currently have faith in God? Is your faith stronger than Peter’s? Is it weaker? Is it about the same? (It’s the same in terms of recognizing Christ. We understand a little more of the truth than Peter, but we have yet to enter into many of these truths.) If people’s faith in God stops at merely acknowledging that He is God, acknowledging that God can orchestrate and arrange everything, and that He has sovereignty over all things, over your destiny, and over your life—if you only acknowledge this, but have few of the elements of believing, even less, almost none, of the elements of obedience, and none at all of the elements of waiting for and seeking God—what sort of faith is this? You always say that you believe in God, you believe that God is sovereign over all and orchestrates everything, that people’s lives are given to them by God, and that you will do whatever God asks of you, even laying down your life for God. But then you encounter a situation like that Peter experienced, where people ask, “Is that your God?” You will ponder the matter over, thinking, “There are nonbelievers all around, won’t I be arrested if I acknowledge Him? God has said that we can use wisdom at critical times and refrain from acknowledging Him, so I will use wisdom, and God will not hold it against me.” If you cherish your life and are cowardly, you will dare not acknowledge God, and may even deny God. At such a time, where is the trust by which you believe that God is sovereign over all things? (It doesn’t exist.) Was the trust you thought you had during ordinary times real or false? (False.) When something happens that especially violates your notions or tastes and God’s will in the matter has yet to be fully revealed, God requires you to obey in the matter. He has arranged this environment so that you can learn a lesson. So what do you do? For example, say you have especially strong faith and are especially pious and sincere, but God arranges an environment that does not fit your notions, treating you as if you were an unbeliever. Feeling wronged, tears will fill your eyes and you will complain to God, saying in your heart: “Oh God, I believe in You, I live for You, yet You arranged for me such an environment as this, placing me among the unbelievers and mixing me with unclean spirits. Won’t I become polluted by this? I am set apart as a holy person, a person who belongs to God. You shouldn’t have arranged this. Do You know how much I miss You, how much I love You? I cannot be apart from You. You can’t treat me like this, it’s not fair to me!” What about this? When you encounter things that do not conform to your notions, where is your obedience? (It doesn’t exist.) What do you replace obedience with? (Complaints, misunderstandings, and resistance.) Is this real trust? What should genuine faith possess? How does it show itself? (Seeking God’s will and obeying God.) A single incident reveals whether someone has real trust.
Let us fellowship about one matter that is most at odds with human notions. Moses lived in the wilderness for forty years. Forty years is most of a person’s life. If someone lives to be eighty, forty years is half their life. What kind of living environment is the wilderness? Not only was the wilderness an extremely poor environment in which to live with many difficulties that Moses had to face, but the more important problem was that he had no contact with the Israelites during these forty years, and God did not appear to him either. God arranged this environment for Moses in order to refine him. Does this accord with human notions? If people lack genuine faith, how will this generally show itself? In the first two years, they will still have some strength in their hearts and think, “God is testing me, but I am not afraid. I have God! As long as God doesn’t let me die, I can live as long as I have even one breath left. I live by God. I have trust. I must satisfy God!” They have this bit of determination because they still have sheep as companions. However, after a few years pass, the sheep grow fewer and a howling wind blows throughout the day. In the stillness of night, people will feel alone. They have no one with whom to share what is in their hearts. When they raise their eyes to the sky, all they see are stars and the moon. They feel even more lonely on cloudy and rainy nights when even the moon is hidden from view. Unconsciously, their trust gradually grows cold. When their trust becomes cold, a heart full of complaints and misunderstandings shows itself. Right after that, their internal state becomes increasingly depressed and life gradually becomes meaningless. Constantly, they feel that God takes no notice of them and has abandoned them. They draw a question mark on the existence of God, and their trust shrinks smaller and smaller. If you lack genuine faith, you will not stand the test of time or the test of the environment. If you cannot stand the test God gives you, God will not speak to you or appear to you. God wants to see whether you believe in His existence, whether you acknowledge His existence, and whether you have genuine faith in your heart. This is how God looks deep in people’s hearts. Are the people living between heaven and earth in the hands of God? They are all in God’s hands. This is exactly how it is. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the wilderness or on the moon, you’re in the hands of God. That’s the way it is. If God has not appeared to you, how can you see the existence and sovereignty of God? How can you allow the truth that “God exists and is sovereign over all things” to take root in your heart and never fade away? How can you make this statement your life, the driving force of your life, and the trust and strength that allows you to keep on living? (Pray.) That is practical. That is the path of practice. When you are at your most difficult time, when you are least able to feel God, when you feel most painful and lonely, when you feel as if you are far from God, what is the one thing you should do above all else? Call out to God. Calling out to God gives you strength. Calling out to God lets you feel His existence. Calling out to God lets you feel God’s sovereignty. When you call out to God, pray to God, and put your life in God’s hands, you will feel that God is by your side and that He has not abandoned you. When you feel that God has not abandoned you, when you truly feel that He is by your side, will your trust grow? If you have real trust, will it wear down and fade away with the passage of time? Absolutely not. Is the problem of trust now solved? Can people possess real trust simply by carrying around the Bible and rigidly memorizing verses word for word? You still have to pray to God and rely on God to solve this problem. How did Moses get through those forty years in the wilderness? At that time, there was no Bible, and there were few people around him. He only had sheep with him. Moses was certainly led by God. Although the Bible does not record how God led him, whether God appeared to him, whether God spoke to him, or whether God allowed Moses to understand why He made him live in the wilderness for forty years, it is an undeniable fact that Moses did survive living in the wilderness for forty years. No one can deny this fact. With no one around him with whom to share what was in his heart, how could he survive alone in the wilderness for forty years? Without genuine faith, this would be impossible for anyone. It would be a miracle! No matter how people ponder over this matter, they feel that this could never happen. It is too inconsistent with human notions and imaginings! But this is not a legend, not a fantastic tale, it’s a real, unchangeable, and undeniable fact. What does the existence of this fact show to people? If you have genuine faith in God, as long as you have even one breath left, God will not abandon you. This is one fact of God’s existence. If you have such real trust and such a true understanding of God, then your trust is great enough. No matter what environment you find yourself in, and no matter how long a time you are in this environment, your trust will not wear away.
Moses was in the wilderness for forty years. God never appeared to him, nor provided him with the truth. Moses had no books containing God’s words in his hands, he had none of God’s chosen people by his side, and no one with whom to share what was in his heart. Living alone in the wilderness, he could only live by relying on praying to God. Ultimately, this achieved Moses’ real trust. So why did God do this? God was to entrust Moses with a commission, making great use of him, and God needed to do work on him, so He tempered him. What did God temper in Moses? (His trust.) God wanted to perfect his trust, not temper his trust. What God tempers are man’s good intentions, what are called man’s resoluteness and his abilities and skills, and his hotheadedness. Why did Moses leave Egypt at that time? (Because he killed an Egyptian due to hotheadedness.) Could God have used him at that time? (No.) What would have happened if God had used him then? He hated the Egyptians and always intended to act impulsively. If he killed another person, wouldn’t that create problems? If God asked him to go and lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and Moses acted impulsively when Pharaoh would not agree, wouldn’t that cause trouble? God would say, “Can you represent God if you act this way?” Therefore, because of his hotheadedness, God could not use him. Hotheadedness is a major taboo for humans. If you are hotheaded, if you always want to do things based on your naturalness and your impulse, and if you always want to solve problems using human methods; if you don’t have genuine faith in God and you don’t rely on God and believe in His sovereignty out of such genuine faith, God will not be able to use you. Should God try to use you, not only will you accomplish nothing, but you will actually mess things up. Therefore, after Moses killed the Egyptian, he fled to the wilderness. God used the environment of the wilderness to temper his will, hotheadedness, his good intentions, zeal, and impulse as well as the heroism that made him defend the interests of his people and fight against injustice. These are all things that belong to human will, hotheadedness and naturalness. Why didn’t God arrange for a few Israelites to accompany him? If he had one more person with him, he might not have relied on God but on another person. What kind of person was Moses ultimately refined into in such an environment? He could obey God and had real trust. This shows that his natural hotheadedness had been worn away. When he emerged from the wilderness, did he still have his hotheadedness and heroism? (No.) What showed this? (Moses said that he was no longer a good speaker.) He could no longer speak, so did he still have his own intentions and impulses? (No.) Looked at in this way, when God wants to perfect a person, to perfect a person’s trust in God, regardless of whether He uses this person or not, God will perfect this person’s understanding of the truth and understanding of God’s will and allow this person to obey God truly and completely without any adulteration, without what is called human heroism, impulse, ambition and lofty passions, without hotheadedness, and without human good intentions and enthusiasms—without these so-called beliefs. Everyone admires and pursues these things that come out of human will, these are things that, relatively speaking, people’s hearts call positive, good, and right. These are the things everyone is willing to live by. These are people’s beliefs. When people do not have these things, they can truly obey God and they will not do things and speak based on human imaginings and human goodness. When people come before God again, they will have more of the elements of genuine faith in God. What are the elements of genuine faith? Will they still advise God and say, “God, the things You do are not in accord with human notions, and people have a hard time accepting Your acts. You really need to do it like this,” and “God, what You said doesn’t sound right. The tone is off, the approach is wrong, and the words You use are incorrect”? These things are worn out of them and they will no longer advise God. They will be able to truly obey God, possess sense, and possess fear of God. With forty years of tempering in the wilderness, Moses truly felt the existence of God. In an environment where simple survival was impossible for an individual, he relied on God to survive day by day and hold on to hope year after year, and lived through to the end. He really did see God. It was not happenstance and not a legend. There was nothing accidental or sudden about it. It was all true. He saw the real existence of God and saw that God’s sovereignty over all things is real. Once God’s work in people achieves such an effect, their hearts will undergo a change. Their notions and imaginings will vanish and they will feel that they themselves are nothing, and they can’t do anything without God. As a result, they will be unwilling to do things their own way. At this time, will people say things like “Lord: this shall not be to You”? (No.) We can say that, at this time, people will not speak based on human notions to hinder God, nor will they do things out of human will or as they themselves see fit. At this time, what is the basis on which people live? What do they live out? Subjectively, they can submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements. Objectively, they can allow nature to take its course, wait and seek God’s will, and obey God in everything He asks them to do without making individual choices.
Back when God sent Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, what was Moses’ reaction to God’s having given him such a commission? (He said he was not eloquent, but slow of speech and tongue.) He had that one, slight misgiving, that he was not eloquent, but slow of speech and tongue. But was he resistant to God’s commission? How did he treat it? He fell down prostrate. What does it mean to fall down prostrate? It means to submit and accept. He prostrated his whole self before God, heedless of his personal preferences, and did not mention any difficulties he might have had. Whatever God would have him do, he would do it at once. Why was he able to accept God’s commission even when he felt there was nothing he could do? Because he had real trust inside him. He had had some experience of God’s sovereignty over all things and matters, and in the forty years he experienced in the wilderness, he had come to know that God’s sovereignty is almighty. So, he accepted God’s commission with alacrity, and set off to do what God had commissioned of him without another word about it. What does it mean that he set off? It means that he had real trust in God, true reliance on Him, and true submission to Him. He was not cowardly, and he did not make a choice of his own or try to refuse. Instead, he fully believed, and he set off to act with God’s commission upon him, filled with trust. He believed this: “If God has commissioned this, then it will all be done as God says. God has told me to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, so I will go. Since this is what God has commissioned, He will go to work, and He will give me strength. I need only cooperate.” This is the insight Moses had. People who lack spiritual understanding think that they can do the things God entrusts them with on their own. Do people have such abilities? Absolutely not. If people are cowardly, they will lack even the courage to meet the Egyptian Pharaoh. In their hearts, they will say: “The Egyptian Pharaoh is a devil king. He has an army at his command and could kill me with one word. How can I lead away so many Israelites? Would the Egyptian Pharaoh listen to me?” These words constitute refusal, resistance, and rebellion. They demonstrate no belief in God, and this is not real trust. Circumstances at the time were not favorable for the Israelites or for Moses. Leading the Israelites out of Egypt was, in the human view, simply an impossible task, because Egypt was cut off by the Red Sea, and crossing that would be a great challenge. Could Moses really not have known how difficult it would be to fulfill this commission? In his heart, he knew, yet he said only that he was slow of speech and tongue, that no one would heed his words. He did not, at heart, reject God’s commission. When God told Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he lay prostrate and accepted it. Why did he not mention the difficulties? Was it that, after forty years in the wilderness, he did not know the perils of the world of men, or the state to which things had progressed in Egypt, or the current plight of the Israelites? Could he not see those things clearly? Is that what was happening? Certainly not. Moses was intelligent and wise. He knew all those things, having personally undergone and experienced them in the world of men, and he would never forget them. He knew those things all too well. So, did he know how difficult the commission was that God had given him? (Yes.) If he knew, how was he able to accept that commission? He trusted in God. With his lifetime of experience, he believed in God’s omnipotence, so he accepted this commission of God with a heart full of trust and without the slightest doubt. What experiences did he have? Tell Me. (In his experience, every time he called out to God and every time he drew near to God, God led and guided him. Moses saw that God had never gone back on His word, and he had real trust in God.) This is one aspect. Anything else? (During his forty years in the wilderness, Moses had indeed seen God’s sovereignty by calling out to and praying to God. He was able to survive and come through it, and he possessed genuine faith in God’s sovereignty.) Anything else? (God had already done a lot of work on Moses. Moses knew something about how God created the heavens, the earth, and all things, how God used a flood to destroy the world in the time of Noah, and about Abraham and other such things. He wrote these things in the Pentateuch, which proves that he gained insight into all these deeds of God and knew that God is omnipotent and omniscient. Therefore, he believed that as God would lead him, the undertaking would certainly be successful. He wanted to watch God’s deeds, see what God would do through him, and how God would help and guide him. This was the trust he had.) That is how it was. Tell Me, in his forty years in the wilderness, was Moses able to experience that, in God, nothing is difficult and that man is in God’s hand? Very much so—that was his truest experience. In his forty years in the wilderness, there were so many things that posed mortal danger to him, and he did not know whether he would survive them. Every day, he would have struggled for his life and prayed to God for protection. That was his only wish. In those forty years, what he experienced most deeply was God’s sovereignty and protection. Later, then, when he was accepting God’s commission, his first feeling must have been: “Nothing is difficult in God. If God says it can be done, then it certainly can. Since God has given me such a commission, He will certainly see to it—it is He who will do it, not any man.” Before taking action, people must plan and make preparations in advance. They must handle the preliminaries first. Must God do these things before He acts? He has no need. Every created being, no matter how influential, no matter how capable or powerful, no matter how frenzied, is in God’s hand. Moses had trust, knowledge, and experience of this, so there was not a shred of doubt or fear in his heart. As such, his trust in God was particularly genuine and pure. He may be said to have been filled with trust.
I have just talked about what genuine faith is. Tell Me, in the end, does God want people’s beliefs or people’s genuine faith? (He wants people’s genuine faith.) What God wants is people’s genuine faith. What is genuine faith? In the simplest and most direct terms, it is people’s real trust in God. What does real trust look like in practice? What does it have to do with all the activities in people’s real lives? (People believe that God is sovereign over and ordains all things. They believe in God’s sovereignty over all they encounter and believe that nothing is difficult for God.) (People believe that every word God says will come to pass.) Ponder this over further. How else will real trust show itself? (The trust of Moses is different from that of ordinary believers. When he wrote Genesis, he believed that God created the heavens and earth and all things by His words, he believed that the heavens and earth and all things were brought about through God’s words, he believed that whatsoever God says is actually is and that which God ordains will come to be, and he believed that God’s words would all come to pass and be fulfilled. In this regard, he had real trust in God. He didn’t just believe in the fact that God truly exists. He believed that the heavens, the earth, and all things were created by God. In his heart, he absolutely believed that God’s words accomplished everything, and he believed in God’s omnipotence. If he lacked such trust in God, he could never have written Genesis. These words were also inspired or revealed by the Holy Spirit, and he could see clearly.) Tell Me, is God’s real existence a fact because people believe it? (No.) What kind of fact is God’s real existence? (Whether people believe it or not, God exists, and God is self-existent and eternal.) At the very least, trust in God must be based on this foundation: God does not exist due to your verbal acknowledgment of Him, nor would He not exist if you did not acknowledge Him. Rather, God exists regardless of whether you believe in Him or acknowledge Him. God is eternally the Creator and eternally sovereign over all things. Why do people need to come to this understanding? What can it change in people? Some people say, “If we believe in You, You are God, but if we don’t believe in You, You are not God.” What are these words? These are rebellious and fallacious words. God says, “If you don’t believe in Me, I am still God and I am still sovereign over your destiny. You cannot change this.” This is a fact that no one can deny. No matter how much an atheist denies or resists God, their fate is still under God’s sovereignty, and they cannot escape God’s punishment. If you fully accept and submit to God’s orchestration and arrangements and can accept all the truths expressed by God, God’s words can change your way of life, change your life goals and the direction of your pursuit, change the path you choose, and change the meaning of your life. With their mouths, some people say that they believe in the existence of God and that God is sovereign over all things and everything that is, but they cannot submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements and they cannot see that God makes different arrangements for each individual. These people always want to pursue their own ambitions and desires and always want to do great things, but they encounter repeated setbacks and are ultimately beaten down and left broken and bleeding. Only then do they surrender. If they really believed in the sovereignty of God, would they act in this way? It would be impossible for them. How should they proceed? First of all, they should understand God’s will. In God’s work for the salvation of mankind, He helps people to shed their corrupt dispositions and break free from Satan’s influence, walk down the right path of life, and live by God’s words. If people really understand God’s will, they will follow God’s requirements in their pursuit of the truth and quest to understand God, achieving submission to God’s sovereignty and arrangements. Only in this way can they conform to God’s will. There are many people who believe in God but are unable to obey God. They always want to pursue their own wants, but they all fail in the end. Only then do they say what is in their hearts, “This is destiny, and no one can change what God has ordained!” At this time, when they again say, “I believe in the existence of God and believe that God holds everything in His hands,” are these words different from those they spoke before? They are much more practical than the doctrines they talked about before. Previously, they just verbally acknowledged and believed that God was sovereign over all things, but when things would happen to them, they couldn’t obey God and couldn’t practice the truth based on God’s words. In their hearts, they thought that they could realize their ideals on their own. In this way, the words of God they believed in their hearts and the doctrines that were on their tongues could not become the principles of their actions. That is, they did not believe that God’s words are all the truth and can accomplish all things. They thought that they understood the truth, but they could not submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, so what they understood were only doctrines and letters, not the truth reality. With their mouths, they said they believed in God’s sovereignty, but in real life, they could not obey God. They always went down their own paths, always wanted to pursue their own wants, and violated God’s requirements. Is this true obedience? Is there real belief and real trust here? (No.) There is none at all, which is really pitiful! What are the manifestations of real trust in God? People with real trust at least believe that God’s words are the truth and that they will come to pass and be fulfilled, and they believe that practicing according to God’s requirements is the correct path in life. In their lives, they pray to God and rely on God, bring God’s words into their real lives, practice according to God’s words in all things, seek to be honest people, and live out the reality of God’s words. They not only believe in the existence and sovereignty of God, but also seek to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements in their real lives. If they are rebellious, they can reflect on themselves, accept the truth, accept God’s discipline, and achieve obedience to God. If you practice in this way, the truth you believe and acknowledge will become your life reality. This truth will be able to guide your thoughts, guide your life, and guide the direction that your entire life takes. At this time, you will be able to bring forth real trust in God. When you possess real belief in God and true obedience, this produces trust. This trust is genuine faith in God. Where does this genuine faith come from? It is obtained by practicing and experiencing God’s words and thereby coming to understand the truth. The more people understand the truth, the greater their trust in God, the more they know of God, and the more they truly obey God. This is how people come to have genuine faith.
In the process by which people come to have genuine faith in God, what does God do? (He enlightens, guides, orchestrates environments, and then takes the truth and works it into people.) When Peter received his rebuke from the Lord Jesus, that was God exposing, judging, and condemning him. Do people have to experience these things before they gain real trust in God? (Yes.) Why do they have to experience these things? Would it be impossible without these things? Is it possible to pass over judgment, exposure, reprimand, discipline, rebuke, and even cursing? (No.) Suppose the Lord Jesus had discussed the matter with Peter in a friendly manner, rather than rebuking him, saying, “Peter, I know that you mean well by what you say, but don’t speak like that in the future. Don’t hinder My plan out of human good intentions. Don’t speak on behalf of Satan and act as Satan’s outlet. In the future, be more careful and don’t talk nonsense. Before speaking, consider carefully whether your words are correct and whether they will grieve or anger God.” Would speaking this way work? (No.) Why not? Men have been too deeply corrupted by Satan, and the roots of their corrupt disposition run too deep. They live by their corrupt disposition. All their thoughts, acts, imaginings, notions, all the goals and directions of their lives, and all they say and do come from their corrupt disposition. Is it fine if God does not rebuke them? Will they realize the seriousness of this problem? Can the root cause of their sin be eradicated? (No.) If the root cause of their sin cannot be eradicated, can people obey God? (No.) Is it now clear to you whether it is a good or a bad thing when God condemns and curses people? (It is a good thing.) Is it a good thing for God to reveal people? (Yes.) What does He reveal in people? (He reveals their weakness, stature, and trust in God.) He completely reveals people. The doctrines you hold, the catchphrase you constantly repeat, your beliefs, your outward zeal and well-meaning intentions are not what God commends. These are not what He wants. No matter how zealous you are or how far you travel, can this show you possess the truth? Can it show you have genuine faith in God? (No.) These are not the things God commends. Human goodness and imaginings are useless. To gain God’s approval and possess genuine faith in God, you must experience the various methods by which God works: exposing, judging, condemning, cursing—sometimes even disciplining and punishing are needed. Are these things to be feared? They are not things to be feared. They have in them God’s will, God’s good intentions, and God’s love. It is worthwhile to endure this hardship! God does these things and uses these methods to work on people. This shows that God expects things from these people and wants to gain something from them. God does not do these things at random, without reason, or based on imaginings. They completely reflect God’s will. What is God’s will? He wants to bring people to genuine faith in God and have people accept the truth, shed their corrupt dispositions, and achieve salvation.
Tell Me, after Peter denied the Lord three times, did he reflect on his own faith? (Yes.) People with normal humanity, those who pursue the truth will reflect on themselves when they encounter failures and setbacks. Peter would certainly have reflected on himself in this way. People who do not love the truth will never reflect on themselves. If they encounter a situation like Peter’s, they will say, “Although I have denied the Lord three times, these were exceptional circumstances. Who would not feel worried, afraid, and weak under such exceptional circumstances? It’s not a big deal. My love for the Lord is still great, my heart is on fire with zeal, my spirit is strong, and I will never leave, never abandon the Lord! Denying the Lord three times is only a small blemish, and God probably won’t remember it. After all, my trust in God is quite considerable.” What sort of reflection is this? Is this the attitude of accepting the truth? Is this the way to attain real trust? (No.) What if Peter thought, “Lord Jesus, You know people too well, but how could You have wagered that I would do such a thing? You should not have predicted that I would deny You. Rather, You should have predicted that I would recognize You three times. That would have been great, and I could then have followed You with my head held high. In addition, it would have shown my great trust in You, and Your prediction would also have proved accurate. We would both be satisfied with that. How truly I believe in You. You must perfect me and give me my dignity! You shouldn’t rebuke me. You shouldn’t treat me in this manner. I am the dignified Peter. I should never have said words that denied God. It is too embarrassing and shameful! Why would You put such a thing on me? Why not somebody else? What You did was not fair! Although I admit that I denied You, did You have to expose me like this so that everyone can see my embarrassment? Where will I go from here? Can I still receive a good destination in the future? Doesn’t this mean You have given up on me? In my heart, I feel this isn’t fair.” Is it right or wrong to reason with God like this? (It is wrong.) What sort of state is this? Here Peter has disobedience and complaints. Peter complains that God’s work does not conform to his notions and tastes. It causes him to lose face and standing so that he cannot hold his head up high. Here he has human choices, he has human complaints, disobedience, resistance, and rebellion. All of these things are corrupt dispositions. Thinking this way, acting in this way, and having such an attitude and state are obviously wrong. If people think and act like this and God does not reprimand them, can they develop genuine faith after being revealed? Can they possess real trust in God? (No.) What sort of result is in store for people who complain, rebel, resist, and reject what God reveals in them and how God treats them such as this? What does this bring to the lives of such people? The first thing it brings is loss. What is the implication of “loss”? As God sees it, you are too much trouble to deal with. No matter what happens to you, you always have choices and you always have your own tastes, your own will, your own opinions, and your own imaginings, notions, and conclusions. So then, why do you still believe in God? For you, God is simply the object of your conviction and your spiritual support. You don’t need God, God’s words, God’s truth, or God’s life provision, and you certainly don’t need God to do any sort of judgment work on you that causes you a lot of pain. In response, God says, “That’s easy, I don’t have to do that to you. There’s just one thing: You must leave Me. You have the right to your choices, and I have the right to make choices as well. You can choose not to accept My manner of saving you, just as I can choose not to save you.” Does this mean you and God have nothing to do with each other? Is this God’s freedom? (Yes.) Does God have the right to do this? (Yes.) Do people have the right to choose not to accept God’s salvation? (Yes.) People also have this right. You can give up or you can reject the salvation God has for you, but in the end, it is you who suffers the loss. Not only will you not be perfected by God, but God will also reject and detest you and cast you out. In the end, you will be doubly punished. This is the outcome for you. That’s the trouble in store for you! Therefore, people who want to be saved must choose to submit to God’s work. Only in this way can people develop real trust in God and attain genuine faith in Him. Such faith is gradually produced in the process of submission to God’s sovereignty and arrangements.
People’s corrupt disposition is hidden in the intentions behind their speech and actions, in their outlook on things, in their every thought and idea, and in their views, understanding, notions, outlook, wishes, and demands regarding the truth, God, and God’s work. It pours out from people’s words and acts without their knowing it. How, then, does God treat these things inside people? He arranges various environments to expose you. He will not only expose you, but He will also judge you. When you reveal your corrupt disposition, when you have thoughts and ideas that defy God, when you have states and viewpoints that contend with God, when you have states whereby you misunderstand God, or resist and oppose Him, God will rebuke you, judge you, and chastise you, and He will sometimes even discipline you and punish you. What is the aim of disciplining and rebuking you? (To have us repent and change.) Yes, it is meant to have you repent. What is achieved by disciplining and rebuking you is that it allows you to turn your course around. It is to make you understand that your thoughts are the notions of man, and that they are wrong; your motivations are born of Satan, they originate from human will, they are not in line with the truth, they are incompatible with God, they cannot fulfill God’s intentions, they are disgusting and hateful to God, they incite His wrath, and even arouse His curse. After realizing this, you have to change your motivations and attitude. And how are they changed? First of all, you must submit to the way God treats you, and submit to the environments and people, matters, and things that He sets out for you. Do not pick holes, do not give objective excuses, and do not shirk your responsibilities. Secondly, seek the truth that people should practice and enter into when God does what He does. God asks that you understand these things. He wants you to recognize your corrupt dispositions and satanic essence, for you to be able to submit to the environments He arranges for you and, ultimately, for you to be able to practice in accordance with His will and His requirements for you. Then you will have passed the test. Once you stop resisting and opposing God, you will then no longer argue with God and will be able to obey. When God says, “Get you behind Me, Satan,” you reply, “If God says I am Satan, I am Satan. Though I don’t understand what I’ve done wrong, or why God says I am Satan, He orders me to get behind Him, so I shall not hesitate. I must seek the will of God.” When God says the nature of your actions is satanic, you say, “I recognize whatever God says, I accept it all.” What attitude is this? This is obedience. Is it obedience when you are able to reluctantly accept God saying you are the devil Satan, but cannot accept it—and are incapable of obeying—when He says you are a beast? Obedience means total compliance and acceptance, not arguing or setting terms. It means not analyzing cause and effect, regardless of objective reasons, and only concerning yourself with acceptance. When people have attained obedience such as this, they are close to genuine faith in God. The more God acts and the more you experience, the more real God’s sovereignty over all things becomes to you, the greater your trust in God will become and the more you will feel, “Everything God does is good, none of it is bad. I must not pick and choose, but should obey. My responsibility, my obligation, my duty—it is to obey. This is what I should do as a creature of God. If I can’t even obey God, then what am I? I am a beast, I am the devil!” Does this not show that you now have genuine faith? Once you have gotten to this point, you will be without taint, and so it will be easy for God to use you, and it will also be easy for you to submit to the orchestrations of God. When you have God’s approval, you will be able to gain His blessings. Thus, there are many lessons to be learned in obedience.
Peter possessed true obedience to God. When God said, “Get you behind Me, Satan,” he kept quiet and reflected on himself. The people of today can’t do this. If God says, “Get you behind Me, Satan,” they will say, “Who are You calling Satan? It’s not okay to say that I’m Satan. Say I’m chosen by God—that would be pretty good. That I could accept and obey. If You say I’m Satan, I can’t obey.” If you can’t obey, then do you have real trust in God? Do you possess real obedience? (No.) What is the relationship between obedience and real trust? Only when you have genuine faith can you possess true obedience. Only when you can truly obey God can real trust in God gradually arise within you. You gain real trust in the process of truly obeying God, but if you lack real trust, can you truly obey God? (No.) These things are connected, and this is not a matter of rules or logic. Truth is not philosophy, it is not logical. Truths are interrelated and absolutely inseparable. If you say, “To obey God, you must have trust in God, and if you have trust in God, you must obey God,” this is a rule, a phrase, a theory, a high-sounding view! Matters of life are not rules. You keep verbally acknowledging that Almighty God is your only Savior and the one true God, but do you have real trust in God? What do you rely on to stand firm when you meet with adversity? Many people accept Almighty God because He has expressed so many truths. They accept Him in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. However, when confronted with arrest and tribulations, many people withdraw, many people hide in their homes and do not dare to perform their duties. At this time, the words you spoke—“I believe in God’s sovereignty, I believe in God’s control over man’s destiny, and that my destiny is in God’s hands”—have long since disappeared without a trace. It was merely a catchphrase for you. Since you dare not practice and experience these words, and you do not live by these words, do you have real trust in God? The essence of having faith in God is not just believing in God’s name, but believing in the fact that God is sovereign over all things. You must turn this fact into your life, turn it into the actual testimony of your life. You have to live by these words. That means allowing these words to guide your behavior and guide the direction and goals of your actions when situations confront you. Why do you have to live by these words? For example, let’s say that you are able to go to a foreign country to believe in God and perform your duty, and you think this is quite good. The rule of the great red dragon does not exist overseas, and there is no persecution of beliefs; believing in God does not endanger your life, so you don’t have to take risks. Whereas, believers in God in mainland China are in danger of being arrested at any time; they are living in the demon’s den, and that is very dangerous! Then one day, God says, “You have been believing in God overseas for several years, and gained some life experience. There is a place in mainland China, the brothers and sisters there are immature in terms of life. You should return and shepherd them.” What would you do when confronted with this responsibility? (Obey and accept it.) You might accept it externally, but your heart would feel uneasy. In your bed at night, you’d cry and pray to God, “God, You know my weakness. My stature is too small. Even if I return to the mainland, I would not be able to shepherd God’s chosen people! Can’t You choose someone else to go? This commission has come to me, and I do want to go, but I am afraid that, if I go, I will not carry it out well, that I will not be able to perform my duty satisfactorily, and that I will fail to satisfy Your will! Can’t I stay overseas for two more years?” What is the choice you are making? You are not completely refusing to go, but you are not fully agreeing to go either. This is tacit evasion. Is this obeying God? This is a most clear rebellion against God. You not wanting to return means that you possess resistant emotions. Does God know this? (He knows.) God will say, “Don’t go. I am not being hard on you, I am just giving you a trial.” In this way, He has exposed you. Do you love God? Do you obey God? Do you have real trust? (No.) Is this weakness? (No.) It is rebellion, it is opposing God. This trial has revealed that you do not have real trust in God, you do not have true obedience, and you do not believe that God is sovereign over all things. You say, “As long as I am afraid, I am justified in choosing not to go. As long as my life is in danger, I can refuse. I do not have to accept this commission and can choose my own path. I can be filled with complaints and grievances.” What sort of trust is this? There is no real trust here. No matter how lofty the slogans you chant are, will they have any effect now? None at all. Will your oaths have any effect? Will it do any good if other people fellowship on the truth and work to persuade you? (No.) Even if you reluctantly go to the mainland after they work to persuade you, would this be true obedience? This is not how God wants you to obey. If you go unwillingly, you would go in vain. God will not work in you, and you will gain nothing from it. God doesn’t force people to do things. You must be willing. If you don’t want to go, want to take a third way, and always seek to escape, reject, and evade, then you don’t have to go. When your stature is large enough and you have such trust, you will voluntarily request to go, saying, “I will go, even if no one else does. This time I am truly unafraid, and I will risk my life! Isn’t life given by God? What is so scary about Satan? It is a plaything in the hands of God, and I do not fear it! If I am not arrested, it will be thanks to God’s grace and mercy. If circumstances are such that I am arrested, it is because God allows it. Even if I die in prison, I must still testify for God! I must have this resolve—I will hand over my life to God. I will take what I have understood, experienced, and come to know in my life and fellowship on it with those brothers and sisters who lack understanding and knowledge. This way, they can have the same trust and resolve as I do, and can come before God and testify for Him. I must be considerate of God’s will and carry this heavy burden. Although carrying this heavy burden requires taking risks and sacrificing my life, I am not afraid. I no longer think of myself; I have God, my life is in His hands, and I willingly submit to His orchestrations and arrangements.” After you return, you will have to suffer in that environment. You may age quickly, with your hair going gray and your face wrinkling. You may get sick or be arrested and persecuted, or even find yourself in mortal danger. How should you confront these problems? This again involves real trust. Some people can return in a burst of determination, but what will they do when confronted by these hardships after their return? You must take the plunge and believe in God’s sovereignty. Even if you visibly age a bit or get a little sick, these are trivial matters. If you sin against God and refuse His commission, you will lose out on your chance to be perfected by God in this life. In your life, if you sin against God and reject His commission, that will be an eternal stain! Losing this opportunity is something you can’t buy back with any number of years of your youth. What use is it to have a healthy and strong body? What’s the use of having a pretty face and a good figure? Even if you live to be eighty and your mind is still sharp, if you can’t understand the meaning of even one sentence spoken by God, wouldn’t that be pathetic? It would be extremely pathetic! So, what is the most important and precious thing that people must obtain when they come before God? It is genuine faith in God. No matter what befalls you, if you first obey, even if you have some small misconceptions about God at the time, or you don’t quite understand why God is acting in that way, you will not be passive and weak. As Peter said, “Even if God were playing with humans as if they were toys, what complaint would humans have?” If you lack even this bit of trust, could you still be as obedient as Peter? Very often, what God does to you is appropriate and reasonable, in line with your stature, imaginings, and notions. God works according to your stature. If you still can’t accept it, can you achieve the obedience of Peter? That would be even more impossible. Therefore, you have to pursue toward this direction and this goal. Only then can you achieve genuine faith in God.
If people lack genuine faith, can they obey God? It’s hard to say. Only by having real trust in God can they truly obey Him. That’s exactly it. If you do not truly obey God, you will have no more opportunities to receive God’s enlightenment, guidance, or perfection. You have pushed away all these opportunities for God to perfect you. You don’t want them. You refuse, avoid, and are constantly dodging them. You always choose an environment with the comforts of the flesh and free from suffering. This is a problem! You can’t experience God’s work. You can’t experience God’s guidance, God’s leadership, and God’s protection. You can’t see God’s deeds. As a result, you won’t gain the truth and won’t gain real trust—you won’t gain anything! If you cannot gain the truth and you cannot gain the word of God to make it your life, can you be gained by God? Certainly not. What is the main thing you intend to gain by being enlightened, guided, and perfected by God? You gain the truth and the word of God. That is, God’s word becomes your reality, the source of your life, and the principle, basis, and criterion for your actions. When this is the case, what do you live out? Still a corrupt disposition? (No.) Will God say to you, “Get you behind Me, Satan”? (He will not.) What will God say? What was the definition God gave to Job? (He fears God and shuns evil, he is a perfect person.) It is appropriate to quote these words here. If you want to attain this title and definition God gave to Job, will it be easy to do so? (No.) It’s not easy. You have to satisfy God’s heart in all things, seek God’s will everywhere, act according to God’s will, and submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. If you only say that you will submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangement, but then seek to analyze why certain circumstances, people, events and things befall you, have complaints and misunderstandings, and misinterpret God’s will, that would be very grievous to God! If you don’t want God, God won’t want you. You will have nothing to do with each other. Wouldn’t it be a problem if things were to go on like this? As you are not a creature of God, God is not your Sovereign, nor your God. How will God define you in the end? “Depart from Me, you that work iniquity.” Do you want to have these words said of you? (No.) What does it mean if this is said of you? (It means we are condemned, cast out, and punished by God.) That is not good at all! Once you are condemned and cast out by God, it is not like being condemned by a leader or someone in authority—it is God! God bestows life on you and sustains your life. Now that God does not want you, can you still live? (No.) What does this mean? It signifies the final outcome for you, which is not a good thing. It is not a good sign at all. If I say that a person fears God and shuns evil and is a perfect person, this is a good sign, and God’s blessing will surely come to such a person. What should you make of the words with which God evaluated Job? If you think about what Job ate, what he wore, how he walked, and what temperament he had and try to imitate these things, you are going about it wrong. You have to quickly ponder and seek, thinking, “How did Job do it? What did he live out to receive God’s commendation? God said that Job feared God and shunned evil, he was a perfect person. That is no small thing. That is what God Himself said. I must follow Job’s example, seek the way of fearing God and shunning evil, and strive to become a person who fears God and shuns evil as well. This will make it so God will commend me and call me by this title as well. I want to be a perfect person in God’s eyes.” This thinking is in line with God’s will.
December 30, 2016