3. Whether understanding biblical knowledge and theological theory means understanding the truth and knowing God
Relevant Words of God:
Many people hold up God’s words to read day by day, even to the point of carefully committing to memory all the classic passages therein as their most prized possession, and moreover preach God’s words everywhere, providing and aiding others with God’s words. They think that to do this is to bear witness to God, to bear witness to His words, that to do this is to follow God’s way; they think that to do this is to live by God’s words, that to do this is to bring His words into their actual lives, that doing this will enable them to receive God’s commendation, and to be saved and perfected. But, even as they preach the words of God, they never comply with God’s words in practice, or try to compare themselves against what is revealed in God’s words. Rather, they use God’s words to gain the adoration and trust of others by trickery, to enter into management on their own, and to embezzle and steal God’s glory. They hope, vainly, to exploit the opportunity afforded by spreading God’s words so as to be awarded God’s working and His commendation. How many years have gone by, but not only have these people been incapable of earning God’s commendation in the process of preaching God’s words, and not only have they been incapable of discovering the way that they should follow in the process of bearing witness to God’s words, and not only have they not aided or provided for themselves in the process of aiding and providing others with God’s words, and not only have they been incapable of knowing God, or awakening in themselves genuine reverence for God, in the process of doing all these things; but, on the contrary, their misunderstandings about God grow ever deeper, their mistrust of Him ever graver, and their imaginings about Him ever more hyperbolic. Supplied and guided by their theories about God’s words, they appear as if completely in their element, as if plying their skills with effortless ease, as if they have found their purpose in life, their mission, and as if they have won new life and been saved, as if, with God’s words rolling crisply off their tongue in recital, they have gained the truth, grasped God’s intentions, and discovered the path to knowing God, as if, in the process of preaching God’s words, they often have come face to face with God. Also, they are often “moved” to bouts of weeping, and, often led by the “God” in God’s words, they appear to be ceaselessly grasping at His earnest solicitude and kind intention, and at the same time to have grasped God’s salvation of man and His management, to have come to know His essence, and to have understood His righteous disposition. Based on this foundation, they seem to believe even more firmly in God’s existence, to be more cognizant of His exalted state, and to feel even more deeply His grandeur and transcendence. Steeped in superficial knowledge of God’s words, it would appear that their faith has grown, their resolve to endure suffering has strengthened, and their knowledge of God has deepened. Little do they know that, until they actually experience God’s words, all their knowledge of God and their ideas about Him come out of their own wishful imaginings and conjecture. Their faith would not hold up under any kind of test from God, their so-called spirituality and stature would simply not hold up under God’s trial or inspection, their resolution is but a castle built upon the sand, and their so-called knowledge of God no more than a figment of their imagination. In fact, these people, who have, as it were, put a lot of effort into God’s words, have never ever realized what is real faith, what is real obedience, what is real caring, or what is real knowledge of God. They take theory, imagination, knowledge, gift, tradition, superstition, and even the moral values of humanity, and make them into “capital” and “weaponry” for believing in God and following Him, even making them into the foundations of their belief in God and their following Him. At the same time, they also take this capital and weaponry and make them into magic talismans through which they know God, for facing and dealing with God’s inspections, trials, chastisement, and judgment. In the end, what they garner still consists of nothing more than conclusions about God that are steeped in religious connotation, in feudal superstition, and in all that is romantic, grotesque, and enigmatic. Their way of knowing and defining God is stamped in the same mold as that of people who believe only in Heaven Above, or the Old Man in the Sky, while God’s realness, His essence, His disposition, His possessions and being, and so forth—all that relates to the real God Himself—are things that their knowledge has failed to grasp, from which their knowledge is completely divorced, and even as far apart as the north and south poles.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. Preface
What was the chief manifestation of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees? They only pored over Scripture and did not seek the truth. When they read God’s words, they did not pray or seek; instead, they studied the words of God, they studied what God said and did, and so turned His words into a kind of theory, into a doctrine that they taught to others. This is what poring over God’s words is. So why did they do that? What was it they pored over? In their eyes, these were not the words of God, they were not the expressions of God, much less were they the truth, but rather a form of scholarship. Such scholarship, in their eyes, should be passed on, it should be spread, and only this would have been spreading the way of God and the gospel. This is what they called “preaching,” and the sermon they preached was theology.
… The Pharisees treated the theology and theory they had mastered as a kind of knowledge, as a tool for condemning people and measuring whether they were right or wrong. They even used it on the Lord Jesus—that was how the Lord Jesus was condemned. Their appraisal of people, and the way they treated them, was never based on their essence, or on whether what they said was right or wrong, much less on the source or provenance of their words. They just condemned and measured people based on unyielding words and doctrines that they had mastered. And so, even though these Pharisees knew that what the Lord Jesus did was not a sin, and did not contravene the law, they still condemned Him, because what the Lord Jesus said appeared to be at odds with the knowledge and scholarship they had mastered and the theological theory they expounded. And the Pharisees just would not loosen their grip on these words and phrases, they clung onto this knowledge and would not let it go. What was the only possible outcome in the end? They would not acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah who would come, or that there was truth in what the Lord Jesus said, much less that what the Lord Jesus did was in keeping with the truth. They found some unsubstantiated charges to condemn the Lord Jesus with—but in fact, in their hearts, did they know whether these sins they condemned Him with were valid? They did. So why did they still condemn Him thus? (They did not want to believe that the high and mighty God in their minds could have been the Lord Jesus, this image of an ordinary Son of man.) They did not want to accept this fact. And what was the nature of their refusal to accept this? Was there not something of trying to reason with God in this? What they meant was, “Could God do that? If God were incarnated, He must surely be born of distinguished lineage. What’s more, He must accept the tutelage of scribes and Pharisees, learn this knowledge, and read much Scripture. Only after He possesses this knowledge can He take on the title of ‘incarnation’.” They believed that, firstly, You are not thus qualified, so You are not God; secondly, without this knowledge You cannot do the work of God, much less can You be God; thirdly, You cannot work outside the temple—You are not in the temple now, You are always among the sinners, so the work You do is beyond the scope of God’s work. Where did the basis of their condemnation come from? From Scripture, from the mind of man, and from the theological education they had received. Because they were swollen with notions, imaginings, and knowledge, they believed this knowledge to be right, to be the truth, to be the basis, and at no time could God contravene these things. Did they seek the truth? They did not. What they sought were their own notions and imaginings, and their own experiences, and they tried to use these to define God and determine whether He was right or wrong. What was the ultimate outcome of this? They condemned the work of God and nailed Him to the cross.
—The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (Part Three)
How is it that people of religion who believe in the Lord have been reduced to “Christianity”? Why is it that today, they are classified as a religious group, rather than as the house of God, the church of God, the object of God’s work? They have a dogma, they compile the work done by God, and the words He spoke, into a book, into teaching materials, and then open schools to induct and train all manner of theologians. Are these theologians studying the truth? (No.) So what are they studying? They are studying theological knowledge, which has nothing to do with the work of God or with the truths God speaks. And in so doing, they are reducing themselves to Christianity. What does Christianity advocate? If you go to a church, people will ask you how long you have believed in God, and when you say you have just started, they will ignore you. But if you go in clutching a Bible, and say “I just graduated from such-and-such Theological Seminary,” then they will ask you to come take the seat of honor. This is Christianity. Those somebodies who stand at the rostrum have all studied theology, are seminary-trained, possessed of theological knowledge and theory—they are basically the mainstay of Christianity. Christianity trains such people to preach at the rostrum, to go around evangelizing and working. They think the value of Christianity lies in such capable people as these students of theology, these pastors and theologians who preach sermons; they are their capital. If the pastor of a church graduated from a seminary, is good at expounding the Scripture, has read some spiritual books, and has a little knowledge and a way with words, then the church thrives, and has a much better reputation than other churches. What do these people in Christianity advocate? Knowledge. And where does this knowledge come from? It has been handed down from ancient times. In ancient times there was Scripture, which was passed from generation to generation, each generation reading and learning it, right up until the present day. Man divided the Bible up into different sections and created various editions for people to pore over and learn. But what they learn is not how to understand the truth and know God, or how to understand God’s will and attain the fear of God and shunning of evil; instead, they pore over the knowledge contained within them. At most, they look into the mysteries contained within, they look to see which prophecies of the Book of Revelation were fulfilled in a certain period, when the great disasters will arrive, when the millennium will arrive—these are the things they study. And is what they study connected to the truth? No. Why do they study things that have no connection to the truth? The more they study them, the more they think they understand, and the more they equip themselves with letters and doctrine. Their capital grows, too. The higher their qualifications, the more capable they think they are, the more accomplished they believe their faith in God is, and the more likely they think they are to be saved and enter the heavenly kingdom.
… All those in Christianity who study theology, Scripture, and even the history of God’s work—are they true believers? Are they any different from the believers and followers of God that God speaks of? In the eyes of God, do they believe in God? (No.) They study theology, they study God. Is there a difference between them who study God and those who study other things? There is no difference. They are just the same as people who study history, who study philosophy, who study law, who study biology, who study astronomy—they just do not like science, or biology, or any other subjects; they just like theology. These people study God by searching for clues and giveaways in the work of God—and what comes out of their research? Are they able to determine whether God exists? They never will. Are they able to determine the will of God? (No.) Why? Because they live amid words and phrases, they live amid knowledge, they live amid philosophy, they live amid the minds and thoughts of humans. They will never be able to see God, they will never gain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. What does God define them as? As nonbelievers, as unbelievers. These nonbelievers and unbelievers mingle with the so-called Christian community, acting like people who believe in God, acting like Christians—but do they, in fact, truly worship God? Do they truly obey Him? No. Why? One thing is certain: It is because, in their hearts, they do not believe that God created the world, that He rules all things, that He can become flesh, much less do they believe that God exists. What does this unbelief indicate? Doubt, denial, and even an attitude of hoping the prophecies spoken by God—particularly those about the disasters—do not come true and are not fulfilled. This is the attitude with which they treat belief in God, and it is also the essence and real face of their so-called faith. These people study God because they have an especial interest in the scholarship and knowledge of theology, and are interested in the historical facts of God’s work. They are nothing more than a bunch of intellectuals studying theology. These “intellectuals” do not believe in the existence of God, so what do they do when God comes to work and His words are fulfilled? What is their first reaction when they hear that God has become flesh and is performing new work? “Impossible!” They condemn whoever preaches the new work of God, and even want to kill them. What is this a manifestation of? Is this not the manifestation of them being bona fide antichrists? They are hostile toward the work of God and the fulfillment of His words, to say nothing of His incarnate flesh: “If You were not incarnated and Your words have not been fulfilled then You are God. If Your words have been fulfilled and You were incarnated, then You are not.” What is the subtext to this? It is that they do not permit the incarnation of God so long as they exist. Is this not a bona fide antichrist? This is a genuine antichrist. Do such assertions exist in the religious community? Such assertions are made very loudly, and also very forcefully: “It’s wrong that God has incarnated, it’s impossible! Any incarnation is a sham!” Some ask, “Have these people been misled?” Absolutely not. They just do not have true faith in God. They do not believe in the existence of God, they do not believe in the incarnation of God, they do not believe in God’s work of creating the world, much less do they believe in God’s work of being crucified and redeeming all mankind. To them, the theology they study is a series of historical events, it is a kind of doctrine or theory.
—The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (III)
Do many people not oppose God and obstruct the work of the Holy Spirit because they do not know the varied and diverse work of God, and, furthermore, because they possess but a smidgeon of knowledge and doctrine with which to measure the work of the Holy Spirit? Though the experiences of such people are superficial, they are arrogant and indulgent in nature and they regard the work of the Holy Spirit with contempt, ignore the disciplines of the Holy Spirit and, moreover, use their trivial old arguments to “confirm” the work of the Holy Spirit. They also put on an act, and are wholly convinced of their own learning and erudition, and convinced that they are able to travel across the world. Are such people not those who are despised and rejected by the Holy Spirit, and will they not be eliminated by the new age? Are not those who come before God and openly oppose Him ignorant and under-informed villains, who are merely trying to show how brilliant they are? With but a meager knowledge of the Bible, they try to run riot in the world’s “academia”; with but a superficial doctrine to teach people, they try to reverse the work of the Holy Spirit and attempt to make it revolve around their own thought process. Short-sighted as they are, they try to behold in one glance 6,000 years of God’s work. These people do not have any sense worth mentioning! In fact, the greater people’s knowledge of God, the slower they are to judge His work. Furthermore, they only talk a little of their knowledge of God’s work today, but they are not rash in their judgments. The less people know of God, the more arrogant and overconfident they are and the more wantonly they proclaim God’s being—yet they only talk of theory, and offer no real evidence. Such people are of no value whatsoever. Those who see the work of the Holy Spirit as a game are frivolous! Those who are not cautious when they encounter the new work of the Holy Spirit, who run their mouths off, are quick to judge, who give free rein to their temperament to deny the rightness of the Holy Spirit’s work, and who also insult and blaspheme it—are such disrespectful people not ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s work? Are they not, furthermore, people of great arrogance, people who are inherently proud and ungovernable? Even if a day comes when such people accept the new work of the Holy Spirit, still God will not tolerate them. Not only do they look down upon those who work for God, but they also blaspheme against God Himself. Such desperate people will not be forgiven, either in this age or the age to come, and they shall forever perish in hell! Such disrespectful, indulgent people are pretending to believe in God, and the more people are like this, the more liable they are to offend God’s administrative decrees. Do not all those arrogant ones who are innately unbridled, and who have never obeyed anyone, all walk upon this path? Do they not oppose God day after day, God who is always new and never old?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God
Man has been corrupted and lives in Satan’s trap. All people live in the flesh, live in selfish desires, and there is not a single one among them who is compatible with Me. There are those who say that they are compatible with Me, but such people all worship vague idols. Although they acknowledge My name as holy, they tread a path that runs contrary to Me, and their words are full of arrogance and self-confidence. This is because, at root, they are all against Me and incompatible with Me. Every day, they seek traces of Me in the Bible and find “suitable” passages at random which they read endlessly and recite as scriptures. They do not know how to be compatible with Me nor what it means to be against Me. They merely read scriptures blindly. Within the Bible, they constrain a vague God that they have never seen, and are incapable of seeing, and take it out to look at at their leisure. They believe in My existence only within the scope of the Bible, and they equate Me with the Bible; without the Bible there is no Me, and without Me there is no Bible. They pay no heed to My existence or actions, but instead devote extreme and special attention to each and every word of Scripture. Many more even believe that I should not do anything I wish to do unless it is foretold by Scripture. They attach too much importance to Scripture. It can be said that they see words and expressions as too important, to the extent that they use verses from the Bible to measure every word I say and to condemn Me. What they seek is not the way of compatibility with Me or the way of compatibility with the truth, but the way of compatibility with the words of the Bible, and they believe that anything that does not conform to the Bible is, without exception, not My work. Are such people not the dutiful descendants of the Pharisees? The Jewish Pharisees used the law of Moses to condemn Jesus. They did not seek compatibility with the Jesus of that time, but diligently followed the law to the letter, to the extent that—after having charged Him with not following the law of the Old Testament and not being the Messiah—they ultimately nailed the innocent Jesus to the cross. What was their substance? Was it not that they didn’t seek the way of compatibility with the truth? They obsessed over each and every word of Scripture while paying heed neither to My will nor to the steps and methods of My work. They were not people who sought the truth, but people who rigidly clung to words; they were not people who believed in God, but people who believed in the Bible. Essentially, they were watchdogs of the Bible. In order to safeguard the interests of the Bible, to uphold the dignity of the Bible, and to protect the reputation of the Bible, they went so far as to nail the merciful Jesus to the cross. This they did merely for the sake of defending the Bible, and for the sake of maintaining the status of each and every word of the Bible in people’s hearts. So they preferred to forsake their future and the sin offering to condemn Jesus, who did not conform to the doctrine of Scripture, to death. Were they not all lackeys to each and every word of Scripture?
And what of people today? Christ has come to release the truth, yet they would rather expel Him from this world so that they may gain entry into heaven and receive grace. They would rather completely deny the coming of the truth in order to safeguard the interests of the Bible, and they would rather nail the Christ returned to flesh to the cross again in order to ensure the everlasting existence of the Bible. How can man receive My salvation when his heart is so malicious and his nature so antagonistic toward Me? I live among man, yet man does not know of My existence. When I shine My light upon man, he still remains ignorant of My existence. When I unleash My wrath upon man, he denies My existence with even greater vigor. Man searches for compatibility with words and compatibility with the Bible, yet not a single person comes before Me to seek the way of compatibility with the truth. Man looks up to Me in heaven and devotes particular concern to My existence in heaven, yet no one cares about Me in the flesh, for I who live among man am simply too insignificant. Those who only seek compatibility with the words of the Bible and who only seek compatibility with a vague God are a wretched sight to Me. That is because what they worship are dead words, and a God that is capable of giving them untold treasures; what they worship is a God that would lay Himself at the mercy of man—a God who does not exist. What, then, can such people gain from Me? Man is simply too lowly for words. Those who are against Me, who make limitless demands of Me, who have no love of the truth, who are rebellious toward Me—how could they be compatible with Me?
Those who are against Me are those who are not compatible with Me. Such is also the case among those who do not love the truth. Those who rebel against Me are even more against Me and incompatible with Me. I deliver into the hands of the evil one all those who are not compatible with Me, and I relinquish them to the corruption of the evil one, give them free rein to reveal their maleficence, and ultimately hand them over to the evil one to be devoured. I care not how many worship Me, which is to say, I care not how many people believe in Me. All that concerns Me is how many are compatible with Me. That is because all those who are not compatible with Me are evil ones who betray Me; they are My enemies, and I shall not “enshrine” My enemies in My home. Those who are compatible with Me shall forever serve Me in My home, and those who go against Me shall forever suffer My punishment. Those who only care about the words of the Bible and are concerned neither with the truth nor with seeking My footsteps—they are against Me, for they limit Me according to the Bible, constrain Me within the Bible, and so are blasphemous in the extreme toward Me. How could such people come before Me? They pay no heed to My deeds, or My will, or the truth, but instead obsess over words—words that kill. How could such people be compatible with Me?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ