2. How one can achieve knowledge of God
Relevant Words of God:
The three stages of work are the entirety of God’s work in saving mankind. Man must know God’s work and God’s disposition in the work of salvation; without this fact, your knowledge of God consists of nothing but hollow words, nothing more than armchair pontification. Such knowledge can neither convince nor conquer man; it is at odds with reality, and it is not the truth. It may be very plentiful and pleasing to the ear, but if it is at odds with God’s inherent disposition, then God will not spare you. Not only will He not commend your knowledge, but He will also take retribution on you for being a sinner who has blasphemed Him. The words of knowing God are not spoken lightly. Though you may be glib and silver-tongued, and though your words are so clever that you can argue black into being white and white into being black, still you are out of your depth when it comes to speaking of the knowledge of God. God is not someone that you can judge rashly or casually praise, or nonchalantly denigrate. You praise anyone and everyone, yet you struggle to find the right words to describe the supreme grace of God—this is what every loser comes to realize. Even though there are many masters of language who are capable of describing God, the accuracy of what they describe is but a hundredth of the truth spoken by people who belong to God, people who though possessing only a limited vocabulary, have rich experience to draw upon. Thus it can be seen that knowledge of God lies in accuracy and actuality, and not in the clever use of words or a rich vocabulary, and that man’s knowledge and the knowledge of God are completely unrelated. The lesson of knowing God is higher than any of the natural sciences of mankind. It is a lesson that can only be achieved by an extremely small number of those who seek to know God, and cannot be achieved by just any person of talent. So, you must not view knowing God and pursuing the truth as if they are things that could be achieved by a mere child. Perhaps you have been completely successful in your family life, or your career, or in your marriage, but when it comes to the truth and the lesson of knowing God, you have nothing to show for yourself and you have achieved nothing. Putting the truth into practice, it can be said, is of great difficulty for you, and knowing God is an even greater problem. This is your difficulty, and this is also the difficulty faced by the whole of mankind. Among those who have had some achievements in the cause of knowing God, there are almost none who are up to standard. Man does not know what it means to know God, or why it is necessary to know God, or to what degree one must attain in order to know God. This is what is so confounding to mankind, and it is quite simply the biggest riddle faced by mankind—no one is capable of answering this question, nor is anyone willing to answer this question, because, to date, no one among mankind has had any success in the study of this work. Perhaps, when the riddle of the three stages of work is made known to mankind, there will appear in succession a group of talented people who know God. Of course, I hope that is the case, and, furthermore, I am in the process of carrying out this work, and hope to see the appearance of more such talented people in the near future. They will become those who bear testimony to the fact of these three stages of work, and, of course, they will also be the first to bear testimony to these three stages of work. But nothing would be more distressing and regrettable than if such talented people do not emerge on the day that God’s work comes to an end, or if there are only one or two such people who have personally accepted being made perfect by God incarnate. However, this is only the worst case scenario. Whatever the case may be, I still hope that those who truly pursue can gain this blessing. Since the beginning of time, there has never before been work such as this; such an undertaking has never occurred in the history of human development. If you can truly become one of the first of those who know God, would this not be the highest honor among all creatures? Would any creature among mankind be more commended by God?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God
God’s possessions and being, God’s essence, God’s disposition—all has been made known in His words to humankind. When he experiences God’s words, man will in the process of putting them into practice come to understand the purpose behind the words God speaks, and to understand the source and background of God’s words, and to understand and appreciate the intended effect of God’s words. For humanity, these are all things that man must experience, grasp, and attain in order to attain truth and life, grasp God’s intentions, become transformed in his disposition, and become able to obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements. At the same time that man experiences, grasps, and attains these things, he will gradually have gained an understanding of God, and at this time he will also have gained different degrees of knowledge about Him. This understanding and knowledge does not come out of something man has imagined or composed, but rather from what he appreciates, experiences, feels, and confirms within himself. Only after appreciating, experiencing, feeling, and confirming these things does man’s knowledge of God acquire content; only the knowledge that man obtains at this time is actual, real, and accurate, and this process—of attaining genuine understanding and knowledge of God through appreciating, experiencing, feeling, and confirming His words—is no other than true communion between man and God. In the midst of this kind of communion, man comes truly to understand and comprehend God’s intentions, comes truly to understand and know God’s possessions and being, comes truly to understand and know God’s essence, comes gradually to understand and know God’s disposition, arrives at real certainty about, and a correct definition of, the fact of God’s dominion over all creation, and gains an essential bearing on and knowledge of God’s identity and position. In the midst of this kind of communion, man changes, step by step, his ideas about God, no longer imagining Him out of thin air, or giving rein to his own suspicions about Him, or misunderstanding Him, or condemning Him, or passing judgment on Him, or doubting Him. Thus, man will have fewer disputes with God, he will have fewer conflicts with God, and there will be fewer occasions on which man rebels against God. Conversely, man’s caring for and obedience to God will grow greater, and his reverence for God will become more real and more profound. In the midst of such communion, man will not only attain the provision of truth and the baptism of life, but he will at the same time also attain true knowledge of God. In the midst of such communion, man will not only be transformed in his disposition and receive salvation, but he will at the same time also garner the true reverence and worship of a created being toward God. Having had this kind of communion, man’s faith in God will no longer be a blank sheet of paper, or a promise offered up in lip service, or a form of blind pursuit and idolization; only with this kind of communion will man’s life grow toward maturity day by day, and only now will his disposition gradually become transformed, and his faith in God will, step by step, pass from a vague and uncertain belief into genuine obedience and caring, into real reverence, and man will also, in the process of following God, gradually progress from a passive to an active stance, from the negative to the positive; only with this kind of communion will man arrive at true understanding and comprehension of God, at true knowledge of God.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. Preface
Faced with man’s state and man’s attitude toward God, God has done new work, allowing man to possess both knowledge of and obedience toward Him, and both love and testimony. Thus, man must experience God’s refinement of him, as well as His judgment, dealing and pruning of him, without which man would never know God and would never be capable of truly loving and bearing witness to Him. God’s refinement of man is not merely for the sake of a one-sided effect, but for the sake of a multi-faceted effect. Only in this way does God do the work of refinement in those who are willing to seek the truth, in order that their resolve and love be made perfect by God. To those who are willing to seek the truth and who yearn for God, nothing is more meaningful, or of greater assistance, than refinement such as this. God’s disposition is not so easily known or understood by man, for God, in the end, is God. Ultimately, it is impossible for God to have the same disposition as man, and thus it is not easy for man to know His disposition. The truth is not inherently possessed by man, and is not easily understood by those who have been corrupted by Satan; man is devoid of the truth, and of the resolve to put the truth into practice, and if he does not suffer and is not refined or judged, then his resolve will never be made perfect. For all people, refinement is excruciating, and very difficult to accept—yet it is during refinement that God makes plain His righteous disposition to man, and makes public His requirements for man, and provides more enlightenment, and more actual pruning and dealing; through the comparison between the facts and the truth, He gives man a greater knowledge of himself and the truth, and gives man a greater understanding of God’s will, thus allowing man to have a truer and purer love of God. Such are God’s aims in carrying out refinement.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love
Knowing God must be achieved through reading and understanding God’s words. Some say: “I haven’t seen God incarnate, so how should I know God?” In fact, God’s words are an expression of His disposition. From God’s words, you can see His love and salvation for humans, as well as His method for saving them…. This is because His words are expressed by God Himself, not written by humans. They have been personally expressed by God; God Himself is expressing His own words and His inner voice. Why are they called words from the heart? It is because they are issued from deep down, and express His disposition, His will, His thoughts, His love for mankind, His salvation of mankind, and His expectations of mankind…. God’s utterances include harsh words, and gentle and considerate words, as well as some revelatory words that are not in line with human wishes. If you look only at the revelatory words, you might feel that God is rather stern. If you look only at the gentle words, you might feel that God is not very authoritative. You therefore should not take them out of context; rather, look at them from every angle. Sometimes God speaks from a gentle and compassionate perspective, and then people see His love for mankind; sometimes He speaks from a very strict perspective, and then people see the disposition of His that will tolerate no offense. Man is deplorably filthy, and is not worthy of seeing God’s face or of coming before Him. That people are now allowed to come before Him is purely by His grace. God’s wisdom can be seen from the way He works and in the significance of His work. People can still see these things in God’s words, even without any direct contact from Him. When someone who genuinely knows God comes into contact with Christ, his encounter with Christ can correspond with his existing knowledge of God; however, when someone who has only a theoretical understanding encounters God, he cannot see the correlation. This aspect of the truth is the most profound of mysteries; it is difficult to fathom. Sum up God’s words on the mystery of the incarnation, look at them from all angles, and then pray together, ponder, and fellowship further on this aspect of the truth. In doing so, you will be able to gain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and come to understand. Because humans have no chance of having direct contact with God, they must rely on this kind of experience to feel their way through and enter a little bit at a time in order to attain true knowledge of God.
—“How to Know God Incarnate” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
No matter what stage you have arrived at in your experience, you are inseparable from God’s word or the truth, and what you understand of God’s disposition and what you know of what God has and is are all expressed in God’s words; they are inextricably linked with the truth. God’s disposition and what He has and is are, in themselves, the truth; the truth is an authentic manifestation of God’s disposition and what He has and is. It makes what He has and is concrete, and it makes a clear statement of what He has and is; it tells you more straightforwardly what God likes, what He does not like, what He wants you to do and what He does not permit you to do, which people He despises and which people He delights in. Behind the truths that God expresses, people can see His pleasure, anger, sorrow, and happiness, as well as His essence—this is the revealing of His disposition. Aside from knowing what God has and is, and understanding His disposition from His word, what is most important is the need to reach this understanding through practical experience. If a person removes themselves from real life in order to know God, they will not be able to achieve that. Even if there are people who can gain some understanding from the word of God, their understanding is limited to theories and words, and there arises a disparity with what God Himself is really like.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III
Knowledge of God’s authority, God’s power, God’s own identity, and God’s essence cannot be achieved by relying on your imagination. Since you cannot rely on imagination to know the authority of God, then in what way can you achieve a true knowledge of God’s authority? The way to do this is through eating and drinking the words of God, through fellowship, and through experiencing the words of God. Thus, you will have a gradual experience and verification of God’s authority and you will gain a gradual understanding and incremental knowledge of it. This is the only way to achieve the knowledge of God’s authority; there are no shortcuts. Asking you not to imagine is not the same as making you sit passively to await destruction, or stopping you from doing anything. Not using your brain to think and imagine means not using logic to infer, not using knowledge to analyze, not using science as the basis, but instead appreciating, verifying, and confirming that the God you believe in has authority, confirming that He holds sovereignty over your fate, and that His power at all times proves Him to be the true God Himself, through the words of God, through the truth, through everything that you encounter in life. This is the only way that anyone can achieve an understanding of God. Some say that they wish to find a simple way of achieving this aim, but can you think of such a way? I tell you, there is no need to think: There are no other ways! The only way is to conscientiously and steadfastly know and verify what God has and is through every word that He expresses and everything that He does. This is the only way to know God. For what God has and is, and everything of God, is not hollow and empty, but real.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique I
Know that when God works while incarnate, that is when people can access and see the most of what God has and is, and His essence and His disposition. It is the finest chance to know God. In the past, people said they wanted to know God’s actions and disposition, but that was not easy to do, because they could not access Him. Back when Moses first knew of Jehovah and saw some of His actions, how much practical knowledge did he have? Was it greater than that of the people nowadays? Was it more practical than that of people nowadays? Of course not. When Jehovah worked then, His actions were revealed abundantly in Israel; many people saw Jehovah manifest miracles and there were people who saw Jehovah’s silhouette from behind Him. Many people also saw angels, but how many came to know God? Too few! There were practically no people who truly knew God. Only the people of the last days have much knowledge of God from their experience of His work while He is flesh, for God speaks to man, face to face: what work He does, and to what end; what His will is, what His attitude is toward mankind; and of the corrupted state and substance of mankind…. Through these things, people can see that God is indeed such a God, what He wills for mankind is indeed thus; His disposition is indeed thus; His actions are indeed so marvelous; His wisdom is indeed so deep; and His mercy on mankind is indeed so real. This time, these things can truly be experienced. They allow you to experience that God’s love and tolerance for mankind is indeed without limit, and that His will to save people is all encompassed in His work and in His words; they allow people to have real experience of it. Therefore, your knowledge of the essence of the incarnation is from the period of the incarnation. No knowledge from another period is practical. After the work of the incarnation is completed and He leaves, if you try to experience God’s work, it will not be as real to you as it is now, because at present, you can see God incarnate at work with your eyes, and it is truly tangible; furthermore, God is constantly doing such face-to-face work, and people have gradually come to experience it personally. … Therefore, if you want to understand God’s essence, the most beneficial time for you to do so is the time when God incarnate is at work. You can see and touch it, you can hear it, and you can feel it deeply. When God’s work during the incarnation is finished, if you continue to try experiencing how the Holy Spirit works, and try to reflect back, it will not be as profound as now, and your understanding will be shallow. At that time, He will only refine people’s corrupt dispositions, and people, once refined, are able to understand a few more truths and use the truths they have obtained as the foundation for their lives and to change the corrupt disposition within them—but, no matter how you love God, you will not make much progress at that time in your understanding of Him. It will not be as beneficial as knowing God when He is incarnate and at work.
—“God’s True Love for Mankind” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
During his time following Jesus, Peter formed many opinions of Him and always judged Him from his own perspective. Although Peter had a certain degree of understanding of the Spirit, his understanding was somewhat unclear, which is why he said: “I must follow he who is sent by the heavenly Father. I must acknowledge he who is chosen by the Holy Spirit.” He did not understand the things Jesus did and lacked clarity about them. After following Him for some time, Peter grew interested in what He did and said, and in Jesus Himself. He came to feel that Jesus inspired both affection and respect; he liked to associate with Him and stay beside Him, and listening to Jesus’ words rendered him supply and aid. During the time he followed Jesus, Peter observed and took to heart everything about His life: His actions, words, movements, and expressions. He gained a deep understanding that Jesus was not like ordinary men. Although His human appearance was exceedingly normal, He was full of love, compassion, and tolerance for man. Everything He did or said was of great aid to others, and Peter saw and gained things he had never before seen nor possessed from Jesus. He saw that although Jesus had neither a grand stature nor any unusual humanity, He had a truly extraordinary and uncommon air about Him. Although Peter couldn’t fully explain it, he could see that Jesus acted differently from everyone else, for the things He did were very different from that of normal men. From his time in contact with Jesus, Peter also saw that His character was different from that of an ordinary man. He always acted steadily and never with haste, never exaggerated nor underplayed a subject, and He conducted His life in a way that revealed a character which was both normal and admirable. In conversation, Jesus spoke plainly and with grace, communicating always in a cheerful yet serene manner—and yet never did He lose His dignity while carrying out His work. Peter saw that Jesus was sometimes taciturn, while other times He spoke incessantly. Sometimes He was so happy that He appeared like a frisking and frolicking dove, and other times He was so sad that He did not talk at all, appearing laden with grief as though He were a worn and weary mother. At times He was filled with anger like a brave soldier charging off to kill an enemy or, on some occasions, He even resembled a roaring lion. Sometimes He laughed; other times He prayed and wept. No matter how Jesus acted, Peter grew to have boundless love and respect for Him. Jesus’ laughter filled him with happiness, His sorrow plunged him into grief, His anger frightened him, while His mercy, forgiveness, and the strict demands He made of people made him come to truly love Jesus and develop a true reverence and longing for Him. Of course, it was not until after Peter had lived alongside Jesus for a number of years that he gradually came to realize all of this.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How Peter Came to Know Jesus
If you want to know God, to know Him truly, to understand Him truly, then do not restrict yourself merely to the three stages of God’s work, or to stories of the work He performed in the past. If you try to know Him in that way, then you are placing limitations on God, confining Him. You are seeing God as something very small. How would doing so affect people? You would never be able to know God’s wondrousness and supremacy, nor His power and omnipotence and the scope of His authority. Such an understanding would have an impact on your ability to accept the truth that God is the Ruler of all things, as well as your knowledge of God’s true identity and status. In other words, if your understanding of God is limited in scope, then what you can receive is also limited. This is why you must broaden your scope and expand your horizons. You should seek to understand all of it—the scope of God’s work, His management, His rule, and all the things He manages and over which He rules. It is through these things that you should come to understand God’s actions. With such an understanding, you will come to feel, without realizing it, that God rules, manages, and provides for all things among them, and you will also truly feel that you are a part and a member of all things. As God provides for all things, you are also accepting God’s rule and provision. This is a fact that no one can deny.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VIII
Though man may go deep in his research of science and the laws that govern all things, that research is limited in scope, whereas God controls everything. For man, God’s control is infinite. A man could spend his entire life researching God’s smallest deed without achieving any true results. This is why, if you use just knowledge and what you have learned to study God, you will never be able to know God or understand Him. But if you choose the way of seeking the truth and seeking God, and look at God from the perspective of coming to know Him, then, one day, you will recognize that God’s actions and wisdom are everywhere at once, and you will know why God is called the Master of all things and the source of life for all things. The more you gain such understanding, the more you will understand why God is called the Master of all things. All things and everything, including you, are constantly receiving the steady flow of God’s provision. You will also be able to clearly sense that in this world, and among this mankind, there is no one apart from God who could have the ability and the essence with which He rules over, manages, and maintains the existence of all things. When you arrive at this understanding, you will truly recognize that God is your God. When you reach this point, you will have truly accepted God and allowed Him to be your God and your Master. When you have obtained such an understanding and your life has reached such a point, God will no longer test you and judge you, nor will He make any demands of you, because you will understand God, will know His heart, and will have truly accepted God in your heart.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VIII
People often say that it is not an easy thing to know God. However, I say that knowing God is not a difficult matter at all, for God frequently displays His deeds for man to see. God has never ceased His dialogue with mankind, and He has never concealed Himself from man, and nor has He hidden Himself. His thoughts, His ideas, His words and His deeds are all revealed to mankind. Therefore, so long as man wishes to know God, he can come to understand and know Him through all sorts of means and methods. The reason why man blindly thinks that God has intentionally avoided him, that God has intentionally hidden Himself from humanity, that God has no intention of allowing man to understand and know Him, is because he does not know who God is and nor does he wish to understand God. Even more than that, man does not concern himself with the Creator’s thoughts, words or deeds…. Truthfully speaking, if a person just uses their spare time to focus upon and understand the Creator’s words or deeds, and if they pay just a little attention to the Creator’s thoughts and the voice of His heart, it will not be difficult for that person to realize that the Creator’s thoughts, words, and deeds are visible and transparent. Likewise, it will take little effort to realize that the Creator is among man at all times, that He is always in conversation with man and the entirety of creation, and that He is performing new deeds every day. His essence and disposition are expressed in His dialogue with man; His thoughts and ideas are revealed completely in His deeds; He accompanies and observes mankind at all times. He speaks quietly to mankind and all of creation with His silent words: “I am in the heavens, and I am amongst My creation. I am keeping watch; I am waiting; I am at your side….” His hands are warm and strong; His footsteps are light; His voice is soft and graceful; His form passes and turns, embracing all of mankind; His countenance is beautiful and gentle. He has never left, never vanished. Day and night, He is mankind’s constant companion, never to leave their side.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique II