2. What truth reality is, and what letters and doctrines are
Relevant Words of God:
God is a practical God: All of His work is practical, all of the words He speaks are practical, and all of the truths He expresses are practical. Everything that is not His words is vacuous, non-existent, and unsound. Today, the Holy Spirit is to guide people into the words of God. If people are to pursue entry into reality, then they must seek reality, and know reality, after which they must experience reality, and live out reality. The more that people know reality, the more they are able to discern whether the words of others are real; the more people know reality, the fewer notions they have; the more people experience reality, the more they know the deeds of the God of reality, and the easier it is for them to break free from their corrupt, satanic dispositions; the more reality people have, the more they know God and the more they detest the flesh and love the truth; and the more reality people have, the closer they come to the standards of God’s requirements. People who are gained by God are those who are possessed of reality, who know reality, and who have come to know God’s real deeds through experiencing reality. The more you cooperate with God in a practical way and discipline your body, the more you will acquire the work of the Holy Spirit, the more you will gain reality, and the more you will be enlightened by God, and thus the greater your knowledge of God’s real deeds will become. If you are able to live in the present light of the Holy Spirit, then the present path to practice will become clearer to you, and you will be more able to separate yourself from the religious notions and old practices of the past. Today reality is the focus: The more reality people have, the clearer their knowledge of the truth, and the greater their understanding of God’s will. Reality can overcome all letters and doctrines, it can overcome all theory and expertise, and the more reality people focus on, the more they truly love God, and hunger and thirst for His words. If you always focus on reality, then your philosophy for living, religious notions, and natural character will naturally be expunged following the work of God. Those who do not pursue reality, and have no knowledge of reality, are likely to pursue that which is supernatural, and they will be easily tricked. The Holy Spirit has no means of working in such people, and so they feel vacant, and that their lives have no meaning.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How to Know Reality
Holding up God’s words and being able to explain them unabashedly does not mean you are in possession of reality; things are not as simple as you imagine. Whether you are in possession of reality is not based on what you say; rather, it is based on what you live out. Only when God’s words become your life and your natural expression can you be said to have reality, and only then can you be counted as having gained true understanding and actual stature. You must be able to withstand examination over long periods of time, and you must be able to live out the likeness that is required by God. This must not be mere posturing; it must flow from you naturally. Only then will you truly possess reality, and only then will you have gained life. Let Me use the example of the trial of the service-doers with which everyone is familiar: Anyone can offer the loftiest theories regarding service-doers, and everyone has a decent understanding of the subject; they speak on it and each speech surpasses the last, as if it were a competition. However, if man has not undergone a major trial, then it is very difficult to say that he has good testimony to bear. In short, man’s living out is still very lacking, entirely contrary to his understanding. Therefore, it has yet to become man’s actual stature, and it is not yet man’s life. Because man’s understanding has not been brought into reality, his stature is still like a castle built on sand, teetering and on the verge of collapse. Man possesses far too little of reality; it is almost impossible to find any reality in man. There is too little reality naturally flowing from man, and all the reality they live out has been forced. This is the reason I say man possesses no reality. Although people claim their love of God never changes, this is merely what they say before they have faced any trials. When they are suddenly faced with trials one day, the things that they speak of will once again fall out of step with reality, and this will again prove that man possesses no reality. It can be said that whenever you encounter things that do not fit with your notions and that require you to put yourself aside, those things are your trials. Before God’s will is revealed, everyone goes through a rigorous test and an immense trial. Can you fathom this? When God wants to try people, He always allows them to make their choices before the actual truth has been revealed. This means that when God is subjecting man to trials, He will never tell you the truth; this is the manner in which people are exposed. This is one way that God carries out His work, to see whether you know the God of today, as well as whether you possess any reality. Are you truly free of doubts regarding God’s work? Will you be able truly to stand firm when a major trial comes upon you? Who dares to say, “I guarantee that there will be no problems”? Who dares to assert, “Others might have doubts, but I never will”? It is just as when Peter was subjected to trials: He always boasted before the truth had been revealed. This is not a personal flaw unique to Peter; this is the greatest difficulty currently facing every man. If I were to visit a few places or pay a visit to a few brothers and sisters to see what your understanding is of God’s work of today, you would certainly be able to say much about your knowledge, and you would seem not to have any doubts whatsoever. If I were to ask you, “Can you really determine that the work of today is performed by God Himself? Without any doubt?” you would certainly answer, “Without any doubt whatsoever, it is the work performed by the Spirit of God.” Once you had answered in such a way, you surely would not feel a shred of doubt, and you would even feel quite pleased, thinking you had gained a bit of reality. Those who tend to understand things in this way are people who possess less reality; the more one thinks one has gained it, the less one will be able to stand firm when faced with trials. Woe to those who are arrogant and haughty, and woe to those who have no knowledge of themselves; such people are adept at talking, yet fare the worst when putting their words into action. At the smallest sign of trouble, these people begin to have doubts, and the thought of quitting steals into their minds. They do not possess any reality; they merely have theories that are above religion, without any of the reality required now by God. I am most disgusted by those who only speak of theories without possessing any reality. They shout the loudest when carrying out their work, but as soon as they are faced with reality, they fall apart. Does this not show that these people have no reality? No matter how ferocious the wind and waves, if you can remain standing without allowing a shred of doubt to enter your mind, and can stand firm and remain free from denial, even when there is no one else left, then you will be counted as having true understanding and genuinely in possession of reality.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Putting the Truth Into Practice Is Possessing Reality
God does not require of people the mere ability to talk about reality; that would be too easy, would it not? Why, then, does God speak of entry into life? Why does He talk about transformation? If people are capable only of empty talk about reality, then can they achieve a transformation in their disposition? The good soldiers of the kingdom are not trained to be a group of people who can only talk about reality or boast; rather, they are trained to live out God’s words at all times, to remain unyielding no matter what setbacks they face, and to live constantly in accordance with God’s words and not to return to the world. This is the reality of which God speaks; this is God’s requirement of man. Thus, do not regard the reality spoken of by God as being overly simple. Mere enlightenment from the Holy Spirit does not equal the possession of reality. Such is not the stature of man—it is the grace of God, to which man contributes nothing. Each person must endure Peter’s sufferings, and, even more, possess Peter’s glory, which they live out after they have gained the work of God. Only this can be called reality. Do not think that you possess reality just because you can talk about it; that is a fallacy. Such thoughts do not accord with God’s will and have no actual significance. Do not say such things in the future—extinguish such sayings! All those with a false understanding of God’s words are unbelievers. They do not have any real knowledge, much less any real stature; they are ignorant people who lack reality. In other words, all those who live outside of the essence of God’s words are unbelievers. Those deemed unbelievers by people are beasts in the eyes of God, and those deemed unbelievers by God are people who do not have God’s words as their life. It can therefore be said that those who do not possess the reality of God’s words and who fail to live His words out are unbelievers. God’s intention is to cause everyone to live out the reality of His words—not merely to have everyone talk about reality, but, more than that, to enable everyone to live out the reality of His words. The reality that man perceives is too superficial; it has no value and cannot fulfill God’s will. It is too lowly and not even worthy of mention. It lacks too much and falls far too short of the standards of God’s requirements.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Putting the Truth Into Practice Is Possessing Reality
How does reality come about? It happens during the process of practicing the truth, as people have all sorts of experiences, and give rise to all sorts of states. There is a process of transformation in how people approach their various states, what thoughts and views they have, and how they seek the truth to resolve them. This process is reality. If you do not go through the process of practicing and experiencing God’s words, but merely know and understand them on a literal and doctrinal level, then all you have is doctrine, as there is a discrepancy between your literal understanding and your direct experience. How does doctrine arise? When one does not practice, but merely understands, analyzes, and explains the literal meaning of God’s words, and moreover preaches them, then doctrine arises. Can doctrine become reality? If you do not practice the truth, you will never understand it. Mere literal explanation will forever be doctrine. If, however, you practice, experience, feel, and learn, the knowledge, thoughts, ideas, and experience thus produced will be practical. Reality is achieved through practice; without practice, reality is forever absent. Has anyone said, “I don’t practice the truth, but I can still preach practical sermons”? What you preach may sound correct and quite practical to others in the moment, but they will still have no path of practice afterward. Everything you understand is thus still doctrine. If you do not put God’s words into practice and have no practical experience or understanding of the truth, when a state you have never considered before arises in someone else, you will not know how to resolve it. When one seldom practices the truth, they will never truly understand it. Only by increasing their practice of the truth can they understand it truly, and only then can they grasp the principles of practicing the truth. If you have no experience of the truth, you will naturally only be able to preach doctrine. You will tell others to adhere to rules just as you do. Without the reality of practice and experience, you will never be able to preach reality.
—“The Path to Resolving a Corrupt Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
If you have read a lot of God’s word but only understand the meaning of the text and lack direct knowledge of God’s word through your practical experiences, then you will not know God’s word. As far as you are concerned, God’s word is not life, but just lifeless letters. And if you only live in observance of lifeless letters, then you cannot grasp the essence of God’s word, nor will you understand His will. Only when you experience His word in your actual experiences will the spiritual meaning of God’s word open itself to you, and it is only through experience that you can grasp the spiritual meaning of many truths and unlock the mysteries of God’s word. If you do not put it into practice, then no matter how clear His word, all that you have grasped are empty letters and doctrines, which have become religious regulations to you. Is this not what the Pharisees did? If you practice and experience God’s word, it becomes practical to you; if you do not seek to practice it, then God’s word to you is little more than the legend of the third heaven. In fact, the process of believing in God is the process of you experiencing His word as well as being gained by Him, or to put it more clearly, to believe in God is to have the knowledge and understanding of His word and to experience and live out His word; such is the reality behind your belief in God. If you believe in God and hope for eternal life without seeking to practice the word of God as something you have within you, then you are foolish. This would be like going to a feast and only looking at the food and learning the delicious things by heart without actually tasting any of it. Would such a person not be a fool?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Once You Understand the Truth, You Should Put It Into Practice
You are able to speak as much knowledge as there is sand on a beach, yet none of it contains any real path. Are you not trying to fool people by doing this? Are you not making an empty show, with no substance to back it up? All such behavior is harmful to people! The higher the theory and the more it is devoid of reality, the more it is incapable of taking people into reality; the higher the theory, the more it makes you defy and oppose God. Do not treat the loftiest theories like precious treasure; they are pernicious and serve no purpose! Perhaps some people are able to talk of the loftiest theories—but these contain nothing of reality, for these people have not personally experienced them, and therefore have no path to practice. Such people are incapable of taking others onto the right track and will only lead them astray. Is this not harmful to people? At the very least, you must be able to solve people’s present troubles and allow them to achieve entry; only this counts as dedication, and only then will you be qualified to work for God. Do not always speak grandiose, fanciful words, and do not use a bunch of unsuitable practices to bind others into obeying you. Doing so will have no effect and can only increase their confusion. Carrying on like this will produce much doctrine, which will make people loathe you. Such is the shortcoming of man, and it truly is mortifying.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Focus More on Reality
If a person does not pursue the truth, he will never understand it. You can say the letters and doctrines ten thousand times, but they will still just be letters and doctrines. Some people just say, “Christ is the truth, the way, and the life.” Even if you repeat these words ten thousand times, it will still be useless; you have no understanding of its meaning. Why is it said that Christ is the truth, the way, and the life? Can you articulate the knowledge you have gained about this from experience? Have you entered the reality of the truth, the way, and the life? God has uttered His words so that you can experience them and gain knowledge; merely voicing letters and doctrines is useless. You can only know yourself once you have understood and entered God’s words. If you do not understand God’s words, then you cannot know yourself. You can only discern when you have the truth; without the truth, you cannot discern. You can only fully understand a matter when you have the truth; without the truth, you cannot understand a matter. You can only know yourself when you have the truth; without the truth, you cannot know yourself. Your disposition can only change when you have the truth; without the truth, your disposition cannot change. Only after you have the truth can you serve in accordance with God’s will; without the truth, you cannot serve in accordance with God’s will. Only after you have the truth can you worship God; without the truth, your worship will be nothing more than a performance of religious rites. All of these things hinge on gaining the truth from God’s words.
—“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Some people work and preach and, despite superficially appearing to be fellowshiping on God’s utterances, they are only discussing the literal meaning of His words, and nothing essential is mentioned. Their sermons are like teachings from a language textbook—arranged item by item and aspect by aspect, and when they are done, everyone sings praises, saying, “This person possesses reality. He preached so well and in such detail.” After such people are done preaching, they tell others to compile their sermons and send them out to everybody. In doing this, they have gotten to where they are deceiving others and all that they preach are fallacies. On the surface, it looks as though they are preaching only God’s words and their sermons conform to the truth. However, with more careful discernment, you will see that they are nothing but letters and doctrines and false reasoning along with some human imaginings and notions, as well as some things that delimit God. Does this kind of preaching not amount to an interruption of God’s work? This is service that resists God.
—“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
You have deviated in your summing up the truth; after you do all this summing up, it has yielded only rules. Your “summing up the truth” is not done so that people gain life or attain changes in their dispositions from the truth. Instead, it causes people to master some knowledge and doctrines from within the truth. They appear to have understood the purpose behind God’s work, when actually they have only mastered some words and doctrines. They do not understand the intended meaning of the truth; it is no different from studying theology or reading the Bible. You compile these books or those materials, and so people become in possession of this aspect of doctrine and that aspect of knowledge. They are first rate speakers of doctrines—but what happens when they are done speaking? They are incapable of experiencing, they have no understanding of God’s work, nor do they have any understanding of themselves. Ultimately, all they will have gained are formulas and rules, and they can talk about those few things but nothing else. If God did something new, would you be able to match up all the doctrines that you know with that? Those things of yours are just rules and you are just having people study theology, not allowing them to experience the word of God or the truth. Therefore, those books that you compile can bring others only into theology and knowledge, into new formulas, and into rules and conventions. They cannot bring people before God or allow them to understand the truth or God’s will. You are thinking that by raising those questions one after another, which you then answer and for which you write down outlines and summaries, brothers and sisters will find it easy to understand, and you think that apart from being easy to remember, these issues are clear at a glance, and that this is a great way of doing things. But what people are understanding is not the real intended meaning of the truth and does not match up with reality—it is just words and doctrines. So it would be better if you did not do these things at all. Doing this is leading people to understand and master knowledge. You bring others into the doctrines, into religion, and have them follow and believe in God within religious doctrines. Isn’t that being just like Paul? You think that mastering knowledge of the truth is particularly important, and so is learning by heart many passages of God’s words. But how people understand the word of God is not important at all. You think it is extremely important for people to be able to memorize many of God’s words, to be able to speak much doctrine and to discover many formulas within God’s words. Therefore, you always want to systematize these things so that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, saying the same things, and talking about the same doctrines, so they have the same knowledge and keep the same rules—this is your objective. Your doing this appears to be for the sake of people gaining understanding, when on the contrary you have no idea that this is bringing people into the midst of rules that are outside of God’s word the truth. To allow people to have a real understanding of the truth, you must link it up with reality and with the work, and solve practical problems according to God’s word the truth. Only in this way can people understand the truth and enter into reality, and only achieving such a result is really bringing people before God. If all you talk about are spiritual theories, doctrines, and rules, if you only put effort into the literal words, all you can achieve is getting people to say the same things and follow rules, but you will not be able to guide people to understand the truth. You will be particularly unable to have people better understand themselves, and achieve repentance and transformation. If being able to talk about spiritual theories could substitute for people’s entering truth reality, then you would not be needed to lead the churches.
—“Without the Truth, One Is Liable to Offend God” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Your knowledge can only provide for people for a certain period of time. As time goes on, if you keep saying the same things, some people will discern that; they’ll say you’re too superficial, too lacking in depth. You’ll have no option but to try and deceive people by preaching on doctrines. If you always carry on like this, those below you will follow your methods, steps, and model of faith and of experiencing and putting into practice those words and doctrines. Ultimately, as you keep on preaching and preaching, they’ll all come to use you as an exemplar. In your leadership of others you speak of doctrines, so those below you will learn doctrines from you, and as things progress you will have taken the wrong path. Those below you will take whatever path you do; they will all learn from you and follow you, so you will feel: “I am powerful now; so many people listen to me, and the church is at my beck and call.” This nature of betrayal within man unconsciously makes you turn God into a mere figurehead, and you yourself then form some sort of denomination. How do various denominations arise? They arise in this way. Look at the leaders of each denomination—they are all arrogant and self-righteous, and their interpretations of the Bible lack context and are guided by their own imaginings. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they could not preach at all, would people follow them? They do, after all, possess some knowledge and can preach on some doctrine, or they know how to win others over and make use of some artifice. They use these to bring people before themselves and deceive them. Nominally, those people believe in God, but in reality, they follow their leaders. When they encounter someone preaching the true way, some of them say, “We have to consult our leader about our faith.” A human is the medium of their faith in God; is that not a problem? What have those leaders become, then? Have they not become Pharisees, false shepherds, antichrists, and stumbling blocks to people’s acceptance of the true way?
—“Only to Pursue the Truth Is Truly to Believe in God” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days