3. What one can achieve by experiencing judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement
Relevant Words of God:
Christ of the last days uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. All these different methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced about God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt essence and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the essence of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth
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. All the work that God does in man has its own aims and significance; God does not do meaningless work, and nor does He do work that is without benefit to man. Refinement does not mean removing people from before God, and nor does it mean destroying them in hell. Rather, it means changing man’s disposition during refinement, changing his intentions, his old views, changing his love for God, and changing his whole life. Refinement is a real test of man, and a form of real training, and only during refinement can his love serve its inherent function.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love
When God works to refine man, man suffers. The greater a person’s refinement, the greater their love of God will be, and the more of God’s might will be revealed in them. Conversely, the less refinement a person receives, the less their love of God will grow, and the less God’s might will be revealed in them. The greater such a person’s refinement and pain and the more torment they experience, the deeper their love of God will grow, the more genuine their faith in God will become, and the more profound their knowledge of God will be. In your experiences, you will see people who suffer greatly as they are refined, who are dealt with and disciplined much, and you will see that it is those people who have a deep love for God and a more profound and penetrating knowledge of God. Those who have not experienced being dealt with have but a superficial knowledge, and they can only say: “God is so good, He bestows grace upon people so that they can enjoy Him.” If people have experienced being dealt with and disciplined, then they are able to speak about the true knowledge of God. So the more wondrous God’s work in man is, the more valuable and significant it is. The more impenetrable it is to you and the more incompatible it is with your notions, the more God’s work is able to conquer you, gain you, and make you perfect. How great is the significance of God’s work! If God did not refine man in this way, if He did not work according to this method, then His work would be ineffectual and without significance. It was said in the past that God would select and gain this group, and make them complete in the last days; in this, there is extraordinary significance. The greater the work He carries out within you, the deeper and purer your love for God. The greater the work of God, the more man is able to grasp something of His wisdom and the deeper is man’s knowledge of Him. During the last days, six thousand years of God’s plan for management will come to an end. Can it really end easily? Once He conquers mankind, will His work be over? Can it be so simple? People indeed imagine that it is as simple as this, but what God does is not so simple. No matter what part of God’s work you care to mention, it all is unfathomable to man. If you were able to fathom it, then God’s work would be without significance or value. The work done by God is unfathomable; it is completely counter to your notions, and the more irreconcilable it is with your notions, the more it shows that God’s work is meaningful; if it were compatible with your notions, then it would be meaningless. Today, you feel that God’s work is so wondrous, and the more wondrous you feel it is, the more you feel that God is unfathomable, and you see how great God’s deeds are. If He only did some superficial, perfunctory work to conquer man and did nothing else afterward, then man would be incapable of beholding the significance of God’s work. Although you are receiving a little refinement now, it is of great benefit to your growth in life; so it is of the utmost necessity for you to undergo such hardship. Today, you are receiving a little refinement, but afterward you will truly be able to behold the deeds of God, and ultimately you will say: “God’s deeds are so wondrous!” These will be the words in your heart. Having experienced God’s refinement for a while (the trial of the service-doers and the time of chastisement), some people ultimately said: “Believing in God is really difficult!” The fact that they used the words, “really difficult,” shows that God’s deeds are unfathomable, that God’s work is possessed of great significance and value, and that His work is highly worthy of being treasured by man. If, after I have done so much work, you had not the slightest knowledge, then could My work still have value? It will make you say: “Service to God is really difficult, the deeds of God are so wondrous, and God truly is wise! God is so lovely!” If, after undergoing a period of experience, you are able to say such words, then this proves that you have gained God’s work in you.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement
When God arrives on earth, all that He has done in man and allowed man to see is so that man will love Him and truly know Him. That man is able to suffer for God and has been able to come this far is, in one regard, because of God’s love, and in another regard, because of God’s salvation; moreover, it is because of the judgment and the work of chastisement that God has carried out in man. If you are without the judgment, chastisement, and trials of God, and if God has not made you suffer, then, in all honesty you do not truly love God. The greater God’s work in man, and the greater man’s suffering, the more apparent it is just how meaningful God’s work is, and the more that man’s heart is able to truly love God. How do you learn how to love God? Without torment and refinement, without painful trials—and if, furthermore, all that God gave man were grace, love, and mercy—would you be able to reach a point of truly loving God? On one hand, during God’s trials man comes to know his deficiencies and to see that he is insignificant, contemptible, and lowly, that he has nothing and is nothing; on the other hand, during His trials God creates different environments for man that make man more able to experience the loveliness of God. Although the pain is great, and sometimes insurmountable—even reaching the level of crushing grief—having experienced it, man sees how lovely God’s work in him is, and only upon this foundation is there born in man true love for God. Today man sees that with the grace, love, and mercy of God alone, he is incapable of truly knowing himself, and much less is he able to know the substance of man. Only through both the refinement and judgment of God, and during the process of refinement itself, can man know his deficiencies, and know that he has nothing. Thus, man’s love of God is built upon the foundation of the refinement and judgment of God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God
The greater God’s refinement, the more people’s hearts are able to love God. The torment in their hearts is of benefit to their lives, they are more able to be at peace before God, their relationship with God is closer, and they are better able to see God’s supreme love and His supreme salvation. Peter experienced refinement hundreds of times, and Job underwent several trials. If you wish to be made perfect by God, you too must undergo refinement hundreds of times; only if you go through this process and rely upon this step will you be able to satisfy God’s will and be made perfect by God. Refinement is the best means by which God makes people perfect; only refinement and bitter trials can bring out the true love for God in people’s hearts. Without hardship, people lack true love for God; if they are not tested within, if they are not truly subjected to refinement, then their hearts will always be floating around outside. Having been refined to a certain point, you will see your own weaknesses and difficulties, you will see how much you are lacking and that you are unable to overcome the many problems you encounter, and you will see how great is your disobedience. Only during trials are people able to truly know their real states; trials make people better able to be perfected.
During his lifetime, Peter experienced refinement hundreds of times and underwent many painful ordeals. This refinement became the foundation of his supreme love of God, and the most significant experience of his entire life. That he was able to possess a supreme love of God was, in one sense, because of his resolve to love God; more importantly, however, it was because of the refinement and suffering that he underwent. This suffering became his guide on the path of loving God, and the thing that was most memorable to him. If people do not undergo the pain of refinement when loving God, then their love is full of impurities and their own preferences; love such as this is full of the ideas of Satan, and fundamentally incapable of satisfying God’s will. Having the resolve to love God is not the same as truly loving God. Even though all that they think of in their hearts is for the sake of loving and satisfying God, and even though their thoughts seem to be entirely devoted to God and devoid of any human ideas, yet when their thoughts are brought before God, He does not commend or bless such thoughts. Even when people have fully understood all truths—when they have come to know them all—this cannot be said to be a sign of loving God, it cannot be said that these people actually love God. Despite having understood many truths without undergoing refinement, people are incapable of putting these truths into practice; only during refinement can people understand the real meaning of these truths, only then can people genuinely appreciate their inner meaning. At that time, when they try again, they are able to put the truths into practice properly, and in accordance with God’s will; at that time, their human ideas are lessened, their human corruption is reduced, and their human emotions are diminished; only at that time is their practice a true manifestation of the love of God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love
The purpose of the work of refinement is primarily to perfect people’s faith. In the end, what is achieved is that you want to leave but, at the same time, you cannot; some people are still able to have faith even when they are bereft of the tiniest shred of hope; and people no longer have hope at all regarding their own future prospects. Only at this time will God’s refinement be finished. Man still has not reached the stage of hovering between life and death, and they have not tasted death, so the process of refinement is not yet finished. Even those who were at the step of the service-doers were not refined to the utmost. Job underwent extreme refinement, and he had nothing to rely on. People must undergo refinements to the point that they have no hope and nothing to rely on—only this is true refinement. During the time of the service-doers, if your heart was always quiet before God, and if no matter what He did and no matter what His will for you was, you always obeyed His arrangements, then at the end of the road you would understand everything that God had done. You undergo the trials of Job, and at the same time you undergo the trials of Peter. When Job was tested, he stood witness, and in the end, Jehovah was revealed to him. Only after he stood witness was he worthy of seeing the face of God. Why is it said: “I hide from the land of filth but show Myself to the holy kingdom”? That means that only when you are holy and stand witness can you have the dignity to see the face of God. If you cannot stand witness for Him, you do not have the dignity to see His face. If you retreat or make complaints against God in the face of refinements, thus failing to stand witness for Him and becoming Satan’s laughing stock, then you will not gain the appearance of God. If you are like Job, who in the midst of trials cursed his own flesh and did not complain against God, and was able to detest his own flesh without complaining or sinning through his words, then you will be standing witness. When you undergo refinements to a certain degree and can still be like Job, utterly obedient in front of God and without other requirements of Him or your own notions, then God will appear to you. Now God does not appear to you because you have so many of your own notions, personal prejudices, selfish thoughts, individual requirements and fleshly interests, and you are not worthy of seeing His face. Were you to see God, you would measure Him through your own notions and, in so doing, He would be nailed to the cross by you. If many things come upon you that do not align with your notions but yet you are able to put them aside and gain knowledge of God’s actions from these things, and if in the midst of refinements you reveal your heart of love for God, then this is standing witness. If your home is peaceful, you enjoy comforts of the flesh, no one is persecuting you, and your brothers and sisters in the church obey you, can you display your heart of love for God? Can this situation refine you? It is only through refinement that your love for God can be shown, and it is only through things occurring that do not align with your notions that you can be perfected. With the service of many contrary and negative things, and by employing all sorts of Satan’s manifestations—its actions, its accusations, its disturbances and deceptions—God shows you Satan’s hideous face clearly, and thereby perfects your ability to distinguish Satan, that you may hate Satan and forsake it.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement
All of you are in the midst of trial and refinement. How should you love God during refinement? Having experienced refinement, people are able to offer true praise to God, and amidst refinement, they can see that they are very much lacking. The greater your refinement, the more you are able to renounce the flesh; the greater people’s refinement, the greater their love for God. This is what you should understand. Why must people be refined? What effect does it aim to achieve? What is the significance of God’s work of refinement in man? If you truly seek God, then having experienced His refinement to a certain point you will feel that it is extremely good, and of the utmost necessity. How should man love God during refinement? By using the resolve to love God to accept His refinement: During refinement you are tormented inside, as if a knife were being twisted in your heart, yet you are willing to satisfy God using your heart, which loves Him, and you are unwilling to care for the flesh. This is what is meant by practicing the love of God. You hurt inside, and your suffering has reached a certain point, yet you are still willing to come before God and pray, saying: “O God! I cannot leave You. Although there is darkness within me, I wish to satisfy You; You know my heart, and I would that You invest more of Your love within me.” This is practice during refinement. If you use the love of God as the foundation, refinement can bring you closer to God and make you more intimate with God. Since you believe in God, you must hand over your heart before God. If you offer up and lay your heart before God, then during refinement it will be impossible for you to deny God, or leave God. In this way your relationship with God will become ever closer and ever more normal, and your communion with God will become ever more frequent. If you always practice in this way, then you will spend more time in God’s light and more time under the guidance of His words. There will also be more and more changes in your disposition, and your knowledge will increase day by day. When the day comes that God’s trials suddenly befall you, you will not only be able to stand by God’s side, but will also be able to bear testimony to God. At that time, you will be like Job, and like Peter. Having borne testimony to God you will truly love Him, and will gladly lay down your life for Him; you will be God’s witness, and one who is beloved by God. Love that has experienced refinement is strong, not weak. Regardless of when or how God subjects you to His trials, you are able to lay down your concerns about whether you live or die, to gladly cast aside everything for God, and to happily endure anything for God—thus your love will be pure and your faith real. Only then will you be someone who is truly loved by God, and who has truly been made perfect by God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love
When Job first underwent his trials, he was stripped of all his property and all of his children, but he did not fall down or say anything that was a sin against God as a result. He had overcome the temptations of Satan, and he had overcome his material assets, his offspring and the trial of losing all his worldly possessions, which is to say he was able to obey God as He took things away from him and he was also able to offer thanks and praise to God because of what God did. Such was Job’s conduct during Satan’s first temptation, and such was also Job’s testimony during the first trial of God. In the second trial, Satan stretched forth its hand to afflict Job, and although Job experienced pain greater than he had ever felt before, still his testimony was enough to leave people astounded. He used his fortitude, conviction, and obedience to God, as well as his fear of God, to once more defeat Satan, and his conduct and his testimony were once more approved of and favored by God. During this temptation, Job used his actual conduct to proclaim to Satan that the pain of the flesh could not alter his faith and obedience to God or take away his devotion to God and fear of God; he would not renounce God or give up his own perfection and uprightness because he faced death. Job’s determination made a coward of Satan, his faith left Satan timorous and trembling, the intensity with which he fought against Satan during their life-and-death battle bred in Satan a deep hatred and resentment; his perfection and uprightness left Satan with nothing more it could do to him, such that Satan abandoned its attacks on him and gave up its accusations against Job that it had laid before Jehovah God. This meant that Job had overcome the world, he had overcome the flesh, he had overcome Satan, and he had overcome death; he was completely and utterly a man who belonged to God. During these two trials, Job stood firm in his testimony, actually lived out his perfection and uprightness, and broadened the scope of his living principles of fearing God and shunning evil. Having undergone these two trials, there was born in Job a richer experience, and this experience made him more mature and seasoned, it made him stronger, and of greater conviction, and it made him more confident of the rightness and worthiness of the integrity to which he held firm. Jehovah God’s trials of Job gave him a deep understanding and sense of God’s concern for man, and allowed him to sense the preciousness of God’s love, from which point consideration toward and love for God were added into his fear of God. The trials of Jehovah God not only did not alienate Job from Him, but brought his heart closer to God. When the fleshly pain endured by Job reached its peak, the concern that he felt from Jehovah God gave him no choice but to curse the day of his birth. Such conduct was not long-planned, but a natural revelation of the consideration for and love for God from within his heart, it was a natural revelation that came from his consideration for and love for God. This is to say, because he loathed himself, and he was unwilling to, and could not stand to torment God, thus his consideration and love reached the point of selflessness. At this time, Job elevated his long-standing adoration and yearning for God and devotion to God to the level of consideration and loving. At the same time, he also elevated his faith and obedience to God and fear of God to the level of consideration and loving. He did not allow himself to do anything that would cause harm to God, he did not permit himself any conduct that would hurt God, and did not allow himself to bring any sorrow, grief, or even unhappiness upon God for his own reasons. In God’s eyes, although Job was still the same Job as before, Job’s faith, obedience, and fear of God had brought God complete satisfaction and enjoyment. At this time, Job had attained the perfection that God had expected him to attain; he had become someone truly worthy of being called “perfect and upright” in God’s eyes. His righteous deeds allowed him to overcome Satan and to stand fast in his testimony to God. So, too, his righteous deeds made him perfect, and allowed the value of his life to be elevated and transcend more than ever, and they also made him the first person to no longer be attacked and tempted by Satan. Because Job was righteous, he was accused and tempted by Satan; because Job was righteous, he was handed over to Satan; and because Job was righteous, he overcame and defeated Satan, and stood firm in his testimony. Henceforth Job became the first man who would never again be handed over to Satan, he truly came before the throne of God and lived in the light, under the blessings of God without the spying or ruination of Satan…. He had become a true man in the eyes of God; he had been set free …
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II
If you are someone who pursues being made perfect, then you will have borne testimony, and you will say: “In this step-by-step work of God, I have accepted God’s work of chastisement and judgment, and though I have endured great suffering, I have come to know how God makes man perfect, I have gained the work done by God, I have had the knowledge of the righteousness of God, and His chastisement has saved me. His righteous disposition has come upon me and brought me blessings and grace; it is His judgment and chastisement that has protected and purified me. If I had not been chastised and judged by God, and if the harsh words of God had not come upon me, I could not have known God, and nor could I have been saved. Today I see: As a creature, not only does one enjoy all things made by the Creator, but, more importantly, all creatures should enjoy the righteous disposition of God and His righteous judgment, because God’s disposition is worthy of man’s enjoyment. As a creature that has been corrupted by Satan, one should enjoy God’s righteous disposition. In His righteous disposition there is chastisement and judgment, and, moreover, there is great love. Although I am incapable of completely gaining God’s love today, I have had the good fortune to see it, and in this I have been blessed.” This is the path walked by those who experience being made perfect, and this is the knowledge of which they speak. Such people are the same as Peter; they have the same experiences as Peter. Such people are also those who have gained life, who possess the truth. When they experience until the very end, during God’s judgment they will surely completely rid themselves of the influence of Satan, and be gained by God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment
In so much of His work, anyone with true experience feels reverence for Him, which is higher than admiration. People have seen His disposition due to His work of chastisement and judgment, and they therefore revere Him in their hearts. God is meant to be revered and obeyed, because His being and His disposition are not the same as those of a created being and are above those of a created being. God is self-existent and everlasting, He is a non-created being, and only God is worthy of reverence and obedience; man is not qualified for this. So, all who have experienced His work and truly known Him feel reverence toward Him. However, those who do not let go of their notions about Him—those who simply do not regard Him as God—have no reverence toward Him, and though they follow Him, they are not conquered; they are disobedient people by nature. What He means to achieve by working thus is for all created beings to have hearts of reverence for the Creator, worship Him, and submit to His dominion unconditionally. This is the final result that all His work is meant to achieve.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Work
As I judge you thus today, what degree of understanding will you have in the end? You will say that although your status is not high, you have nonetheless enjoyed the elevation of God. Because you are of lowly birth you do not have status, but you gain status because God elevates you—this is something He bestowed upon you. Today you are able to personally receive God’s training, His chastisement, and His judgment. This, even more so, is His elevation. You are able to personally receive His purification and burning. This is God’s great love. Through the ages there has not been a single person who has received His purification and burning, and not a single person has been able to be perfected by His words. God is now speaking with you face to face, purifying you, revealing your inner rebelliousness—this truly is His elevation. What abilities do people have? Whether they are the sons of David or the descendants of Moab, in sum, people are created beings who have nothing worthy of boasting about. Since you are God’s creatures, you must perform the duty of a creature. There are no other requirements of you. This is how you should pray: “Oh God! Whether I have status or not, I now understand myself. If my status is high it is because of Your elevation, and if it is low it is because of Your ordination. Everything is in Your hands. I have neither any choices, nor any complaints. You ordained that I would be born in this country and among this people, and all that I should do is to be completely obedient under Your dominion because everything is within what You have ordained. I do not give thought to status; after all, I am but a creature. If You place me in the bottomless pit, in the lake of fire and brimstone, I am nothing but a creature. If You use me, I am a creature. If You perfect me, I am yet a creature. If You do not perfect me, I will still love You because I am no more than a creature. I am nothing more than a minuscule creature created by the Lord of creation, just one among all created humans. It was You who created me, and now You have once again placed me in Your hands to do with me as You will. I am willing to be Your tool and Your foil because everything is what You have ordained. No one can change it. All things and all events are in Your hands.” When the time comes that you will no longer give thought to status, then you will break free from it. Only then will you be able to confidently and boldly seek, and only then can your heart become free of any constraints. Once people have been extricated from these things, then they will have no more concerns.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Why Are You Unwilling to Be a Foil?
After years have passed, man has become weather-beaten, having experienced the hardship of refinement and chastisement. Although man has lost the “glory” and “romance” of times past, he has, without knowing it, come to understand the principles of human conduct, and has come to appreciate God’s years of devotion to saving mankind. Man slowly begins to loathe his own barbarousness. He begins to hate how feral he is, all of his misunderstandings toward God, and the unreasonable demands he has made of Him. The clock cannot be turned back. Past events become regretful memories of man, and the words and love of God become the driving force in man’s new life. Man’s wounds heal day by day, his strength returns, and he stands up and looks upon the face of the Almighty … only to discover that He has always been at my side, and that His smile and His beautiful countenance are still so stirring. His heart still holds concern for the mankind He created, and His hands are still as warm and powerful as they were in the beginning. It is as if man returned to the Garden of Eden, yet this time man no longer listens to the enticements of the serpent and no longer turns away from the face of Jehovah. Man kneels before God, looks up at God’s smiling face, and offers his most precious sacrifice—Oh! My Lord, my God!
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst God’s Management