2. Whether just loving God in heaven without loving Christ on earth is truly loving God
Relevant Words of God:
God’s essence is not just for man to believe in; it is, moreover, for man to love. But many of those who believe in God are incapable of discovering this “secret.” People do not dare to love God, nor do they try to love Him. They have never discovered that there is so much that is lovable about God; they have never discovered that God is the God who loves man, and that He is the God who is for man to love. The loveliness of God is expressed in His work: Only when they experience His work can people discover His loveliness; only in their actual experiences can they appreciate the loveliness of God; and without observing it in real life, no one can discover God’s loveliness. There is so much to love about God, but without actually engaging with Him people are incapable of discovering it. Which is to say, if God did not become flesh, people would be incapable of actually engaging with Him, and if they were unable to actually engage with Him, they also would not be able to experience His work—and so their love of God would be tainted with much falsehood and imagination. The love of the God in heaven is not as real as the love of the God on earth, for people’s knowledge of God in heaven is built upon their imaginings, rather than upon what they have seen with their own eyes and what they have personally experienced. When God comes to earth, people are able to behold His actual deeds and His loveliness, and they can see everything of His practical and normal disposition, all of which is thousands of times more real than the knowledge of the God in heaven. Regardless of how much people love the God in heaven, there is nothing real about this love, and it is full of human ideas. No matter how little their love for the God on earth, this love is real; even if there is only a little of it, it is still real. God causes people to know Him through real work, and through this knowledge He gains their love. It’s like Peter: If he had not lived with Jesus, it would have been impossible for him to adore Jesus. So, too, was his loyalty toward Jesus built upon his engagement with Jesus. To make man love Him, God has come among man and lives together with man, and all that He makes man see and experience is the reality of God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Love God Will Forever Live Within His Light
The biggest problem with man is that he only loves things that he cannot see or touch, things that are supremely mysterious and wondrous, and that are unimaginable by man and unattainable by mere mortals. The more unrealistic these things, the more they are analyzed by people, and people even pursue them heedless of all else, and attempt to obtain them. The more unrealistic they are, the more closely people scrutinize and analyze them, even going so far as to make up their own exhaustive ideas about them. On the contrary, the more realistic things are, the more dismissive people are toward them; they simply look down their noses at them, and are even contemptuous of them. Is this not precisely your attitude toward the realistic work I do today? The more realistic such things are, the more prejudiced you are against them. You do not spare any time to examine them, but simply ignore them; you look down your noses at these realistic, low-standard requirements, and even harbor numerous notions about this God who is most real, and are simply incapable of accepting His reality and normality. In this way, do you not hold to a vague belief? You have an unshakable belief in the vague God of times past, and no interest in the real God of today. Is this not because the God of yesterday and the God of today are from two different eras? Is it not also because the God of yesterday is the exalted God of heaven, whereas the God of today is a tiny human being on earth? Is it not, moreover, because the God worshiped by man is the one produced by his notions, whereas the God of today is of real flesh, produced on earth? When all is said and done, is it not because the God of today is too real that man does not pursue Him? For what the God of today asks of people is precisely that which people are most unwilling to do, and which makes them feel ashamed. Is this not making things difficult for people? Does this not lay bare people’s scars? In this way, many of those who do not pursue reality become the enemies of God incarnate, become antichrists. Is this not an obvious fact? In the past, when God had yet to become flesh, you may have been a religious figure, or a devout believer. After God became flesh, many such devout believers unwittingly became antichrists. Do you know what is going on here? In your belief in God, you do not concentrate on reality or pursue the truth, but instead obsess over falsehoods—is this not the clearest source of your enmity to God incarnate? God incarnate is called Christ, so are not all those who do not believe in God incarnate antichrists? So, is the one you believe in and love truly this God in the flesh? Is it really this living, breathing God who is most real and extraordinarily normal? What, exactly, is the objective of your pursuit? Is it in heaven or on earth? Is it a notion or is it the truth? Is it God or is it some supernatural being? In fact, the truth is the most real of life’s aphorisms, and the highest of such aphorisms among all mankind. Because it is the requirement that God makes of man, and is the work personally done by God, thus it is called “life’s aphorism.” It is not an aphorism summed up from something, nor is it a famous quote from a great figure. Instead, it is the utterance to mankind from the Master of the heavens and earth and all things; it is not some words summed up by man, but the inherent life of God. And so it is called “the highest of all life’s aphorisms.” People’s pursuit of putting the truth into practice is the performance of their duty—that is to say, it is the pursuit of satisfying God’s requirement. The essence of this requirement is the most real of all truths, rather than empty doctrine achievable by no man. If your pursuit is nothing but doctrine and contains no reality, do you not rebel against the truth? Are you not someone who attacks the truth? How could such a person be someone who seeks to love God? People who are without reality are those who betray the truth, and they are all inherently rebellious!
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Those Who Know God and His Work Can Satisfy God
You all wish to be rewarded before God and favored by God; everyone hopes for such things when they start believing in God, for everyone is preoccupied with the pursuit of higher things, and no one wants to fall behind others. This is just how people are. Precisely for this reason, many among you are constantly trying to curry favor with the God in heaven, yet in truth, your loyalty and candor toward God are far less than your loyalty and candor to yourselves. Why do I say this? Because I do not acknowledge your loyalty to God at all and, furthermore, because I deny the existence of the God that is in your hearts. Which is to say, the God that you worship, the vague God that you admire, does not exist at all. The reason I can say this so definitively is that you are too far from the true God. The reason for your loyalty is the idol within your hearts; as for Me, meanwhile, the God whom you look upon as neither great nor small, you merely acknowledge with words. When I say you are far from God, I mean that you are distant from the true God, while the vague God seems near at hand. When I say, “not great,” it is in reference to how the God that you believe in this day appears to merely be a person without great abilities, a person who is not very lofty. And when I say “not small,” this means that, although this person cannot summon the wind and command the rain, He is nonetheless able to call upon the Spirit of God to do work that shakes the heavens and earth, leaving people completely confounded. Outwardly, you all appear highly obedient to this Christ on earth, yet in essence, you do not have faith in Him, nor do you love Him. Which is to say, the one you truly believe in is that vague God of your own feelings, and the one you truly love is the God you yearn for night and day, yet have never seen in person. Toward this Christ, your faith is but fractional, and your love nothing. Faith means belief and trust; love means adoration and admiration in one’s heart, never parting. Yet your faith in and love of the Christ of today fall far short of this. When it comes to faith, how do you have faith in Him? When it comes to love, in what way do you love Him? You have simply no understanding of His disposition, still less do you know His essence, so how do you have faith in Him? Where is the reality of your faith in Him? How do you love Him? Where is the reality of your love for Him?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How to Know the God on Earth
Throughout many years of work, you have seen many truths, but do you know what My ears have heard? How many among you are willing to accept the truth? You all believe you are willing to pay the price for the truth, but how many of you have truly suffered for the truth? There is nothing but unrighteousness in your hearts, which makes you think that everyone, no matter who they are, is equally deceitful and crooked—to the point that you even believe that God incarnate could, like a normal person, be without a kind heart or benevolent love. More than that, you believe that a noble character and a merciful, benevolent nature exist only within the God in heaven. You believe that such a saint does not exist, that only darkness and evil reign on earth, while God is something with which people entrust their longing for the good and beautiful, a legendary figure fabricated by them. In your minds, the God in heaven is very upstanding, righteous, and great, worthy of worship and admiration; this God on earth, meanwhile, is but a substitute, and an instrument, of the God in heaven. You believe this God could not be the equal of the God in heaven, much less be mentioned in the same breath as Him. When it comes to the greatness and honor of God, they belong to the glory of the God in heaven, but when it comes to the nature and the corruption of man, they are attributes in which the God on earth has a part. The God in heaven is eternally lofty, while the God on earth is forever insignificant, weak, and incompetent. The God in heaven is not given to emotion, only righteousness, while the God on earth only has selfish motives and is without any fairness or reason. The God in heaven has not the slightest crookedness and is forever faithful, while the God on earth always has a dishonest side. The God in heaven loves man dearly, while the God on earth shows man inadequate care, even neglecting him entirely. This erroneous knowledge has long been kept within your hearts and may also be perpetuated in the future. You regard all deeds of Christ from the standpoint of the unrighteous and evaluate all His work, as well as His identity and essence, from the perspective of the wicked. You have made a grave mistake and done that which has never been done by those coming before you. That is, you serve only the lofty God in heaven with a crown upon His head, and never attend to the God whom you regard as so insignificant that He is invisible to you. Is this not your sin? Is this not a classic example of your offense against the disposition of God? You worship the God in heaven. You adore lofty images and esteem those distinguished for their eloquence. You are gladly commanded by the God that fills your hands with riches, and crave the God who can fulfill your every desire. The only One you do not worship is this God who is not lofty; the only thing you hate is association with this God whom no man can regard highly. The only thing you are unwilling to do is to serve this God who has never given you a single penny, and the only One who is unable to make you yearn for Him is this unlovely God. This kind of God cannot enable you to broaden your horizons, to feel as if you have found a treasure, much less fulfill what you wish. Why, then, do you follow Him? Have you given thought to questions like this? What you do does not merely offend this Christ; more importantly, it offends the God in heaven. This is not, I think, the purpose of your faith in God!
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How to Know the God on Earth
You long for God to delight in you, yet you are far from God. What is the matter here? You accept only His words, but not His dealing or His pruning, much less are you able to accept His every arrangement, to have complete faith in Him. What, then, is the matter here? In the final analysis, your faith is an empty eggshell, one that could never produce a chick. For your faith has not brought you the truth or given you the life, but has instead given you an illusory sense of sustenance and hope. It is this sense of sustenance and hope that is your aim in believing in God, not the truth and the life. Thus do I say that the course of your faith in God has been none other than trying to curry the favor of God through servility and shamelessness, and can in no way be deemed true faith. How could a chick be born of faith such as this? In other words, what can faith such as this accomplish? The purpose of your faith in God is to use Him to achieve your own aims. Is this not further a fact of your offense against the disposition of God? You believe in the existence of the God in heaven and deny that of the God on earth, yet I do not recognize your views; I commend only those people who keep their feet on the ground and serve the God on earth, but never those who never acknowledge the Christ who is on earth. No matter how loyal such people are to the God in heaven, in the end they will not escape My hand that punishes the wicked. These people are the wicked; they are the evil ones who oppose God and have never gladly obeyed Christ. Of course, their number includes all those who do not know and, further, do not acknowledge Christ. Do you believe that you can act as you please toward Christ as long as you are loyal to the God in heaven? Wrong! Your ignorance of Christ is ignorance of the God in heaven. No matter how loyal you are to the God in heaven, it is merely empty talk and pretense, for the God on earth is not only instrumental in man receiving the truth and more profound knowledge, but more than that is instrumental in the condemnation of man and afterward in seizing the facts to punish the wicked. Have you understood the beneficial and harmful outcomes here? Have you experienced them? I wish for you one day soon to understand this truth: To know God, you must know not only the God in heaven but, even more importantly, the God on earth. Do not get your priorities confused or allow the secondary to supersede the principal. Only in this way can you truly build a good relationship with God, become closer to God, and bring your heart closer to Him. If you have been of the faith for many years and have long associated with Me, yet remain distant from Me, then I say it must be that you often offend the disposition of God, and your end will be very difficult to reckon. If the many years of association with Me have not only failed to change you into a person possessed of humanity and the truth, but, moreover, have ingrained your evil ways into your nature, and you not only have twice as much arrogance as before, but your misunderstandings of Me have also multiplied, such that you come to regard Me as your little sidekick, then I say that your affliction is no longer skin deep but has penetrated to your very bones. All that remains is for you to wait for your funeral arrangements to be made. You need not beseech Me then to be your God, for you have committed a sin deserving of death, an unforgivable sin. Even if I could have mercy on you, the God in heaven will insist on taking your life, for your offense against the disposition of God is no ordinary problem, but one of a very grave nature. When the time comes, do not blame Me for not telling you beforehand. It all comes back to this: When you associate with Christ—the God on earth—as an ordinary person, that is, when you believe that this God is nothing but a person, it is then that you shall perish. This is My only admonishment to you all.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How to Know the God on Earth
What did Peter regret the most? Not long after Peter had said “You are the Son of the living God,” Jesus posited another question to Peter (although it is not recorded in the Bible this way). Jesus asked him: “Peter! Have you ever loved Me?” Peter understood what He meant, and said: “Lord! I once loved the Father in heaven, but I admit I have never loved You.” Jesus then said: “If people do not love the Father in heaven, how can they love the Son on earth? And if people do not love the Son sent by God the Father, how can they love the Father in heaven? If people truly love the Son on earth, then they truly love the Father in heaven.” When Peter heard these words, he realized what he had been lacking. He always felt remorse to the point of tears over his words “I once loved the Father in heaven, but I have never loved You.” After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, he felt even more remorse and grief over these words. Recalling his past work and his present stature, he would often come before Jesus in prayer, always feeling regret and indebted due to having not met God’s will and not measuring up to God’s standards. These issues became his biggest burden. He said: “One day I will dedicate to You everything I have and everything I am, and I will give You whatever is most valuable.” He said: “God! I have only one faith and only one love. My life is worth nothing, and my body is worth nothing. I have only one faith and only one love. I have faith in You in my mind and love for You in my heart; these two things only have I to give to You, and nothing else.” Peter was greatly encouraged by Jesus’ words, because before Jesus was crucified, He had told Peter: “I am not of this world, and you too are not of this world.” Later, when Peter reached a point of great pain, Jesus reminded him: “Peter, have you forgotten? I am not of the world, and it was only for My work that I departed earlier. You too are not of the world, have you really forgotten? I have told you twice, do you not remember?” Hearing this, Peter said: “I have not forgotten!” Jesus then said: “You once spent a happy time gathered with Me in heaven and a period of time by My side. You miss Me, and I miss you. Although the creations are not worth mentioning in My eyes, how can I not love one who is innocent and lovable? Have you forgotten My promise? You must accept My commission on earth; you must fulfill the task I entrusted to you. One day I will certainly lead you to be by My side.” After hearing this, Peter became even more encouraged and received even greater inspiration, such that when he was on the cross, he was able to say: “God! I cannot love You enough! Even if You ask me to die, I still cannot love You enough. Wherever You send my soul, whether or not You fulfill Your past promises, whatever You do afterward, I love You and believe in You.” What he held onto was his faith, and true love.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How Peter Came to Know Jesus