93. What exactly must one do to achieve understanding of the truth and gain the truth?
The Answer from God’s Word:
Understanding God’s word is not quite so simple. Just because you can give a beautiful explanation of the letter of God’s word does not mean you understand it. No matter how you interpret the letter of God’s word it is still the imagination and way of thinking of man and is useless.
How should God’s word be understood? The key is to understand His word from within His word. Whenever God speaks He certainly does not speak in mere generalities. Within each sentence there is detailed content which is certain to be revealed further in God’s word, and it may be expressed in a different way. Man cannot comprehend the ways in which God expresses truth. God’s word is very profound and cannot be penetrated with man’s way of thinking. People can discover the complete meaning of every aspect of truth as long as they make an effort, and the remaining details are filled in completely as the Holy Spirit enlightens your understanding of the concrete situations through experience. One part is understanding God’s word through His word, finding the specific content of His word. Another part is understanding the implications of God’s word through experiencing it and obtaining enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. It is primarily through these two ways that a true understanding of God’s word is achieved. If you interpret through the letter of the word or the imaginations of your own way of thinking, then your understanding is not true even if you can interpret it with the utmost eloquence. If you don’t do it right, you will even take meaning out of context and misunderstand God’s word, and that’s even more troublesome. So, truth is obtained principally through receiving enlightenment from the Holy Spirit as you come to know God’s word. A mere understanding or interpretation of the letter of His word does not mean you have obtained truth. If you only need to interpret the letter of His word, then what is the point of enlightenment from the Holy Spirit? In that case a certain level of education would work, and the uneducated would be in quite a predicament. God’s work cannot be comprehended by the human brain. A true understanding of God’s word depends mainly on enlightenment from the Holy Spirit; such is the process of obtaining truth.
from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks
God directs His word to all of humanity. If you are willing to read it, He will enlighten you, but if you are not, He will not. God enlightens those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and those who seek Him. Some say that God did not enlighten them even after they read His word. But in what way did you read the words? If you read His word in the way a man on horseback looks at flowers and placed no importance on reality, how could God enlighten you? How can one who does not treasure God’s word be made perfect by Him? If you do not treasure the word of God, then you will have neither truth nor reality. If you treasure His word, then you will be able to put the truth into practice; only then will you possess reality. This is why you must eat and drink of the word of God at all times, whether you are busy or not, whether the circumstances are adverse or not, and whether you are being tried or not. All in all, the word of God is the foundation of man’s existence. No one can turn away from His word but must eat of His word as they do the three meals of the day. Can being perfected and gained by God be a simple matter? Whether or not you understand at present, and whether or not you have insight into the work of God, you must eat and drink of the word of God as much as possible. This is entering in a proactive way. After reading the word of God, hasten to put into practice what you can enter into, setting aside for the moment what you cannot. There may be much of the word of God that you cannot understand in the beginning, but after two or three months, perhaps even a year, you will. How can this be? This is because God cannot make man complete in a day or two. Most of the time, when you read His word, you may not understand right away. At that time, it may seem like nothing more than mere text, and only after passing through a period of experience will you be able to understand it. God having spoken so much, you should do your utmost to eat and drink of His word, and then, unawares, you will come to understand, and the Holy Spirit will enlighten you unawares. When the Holy Spirit enlightens man, it is often without man’s awareness. He enlightens and guides you when you thirst and seek. The principle by which the Holy Spirit works is centered on the word of God of which you eat and drink.
from “The Age of Kingdom Is the Age of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Having a style like a Peter of the 90s means that each one of you should practice the word of God, have true entry in your experiences and gain even more and even greater enlightenment in your cooperation with God, bringing even more assistance to your life. If you’ve read a lot of God’s word but only understand the meaning of the text and you do not have first-hand knowledge of God’s word through your practical experiences, you won’t know God’s word. As far as you are concerned, God’s word is not life, but just lifeless letters. And if you only hold fast to lifeless letters, you cannot grasp the essence of God’s word, nor will you understand His will. Only when you experience His word in your actual experiences will the spiritual meaning of God’s word open itself up to you, and it is only in experience that you can grasp the spiritual meaning of many truths, and only through experience that you can unlock the mysteries of God’s word. If you do not put it into practice, then no matter how clear His word, the only thing you’ve grasped hold of is empty letters and doctrines, which have become religious regulations to you. Isn’t this what the Pharisees did? If you practice and experience God’s word, it becomes practical to you; if you do not seek to practice it, then God’s word to you is little more than the legend of the third heaven. In fact, the process of believing in God is the process of you experiencing His word as well as being gained by Him, or to put it more clearly, to believe in God is to have the knowledge and understanding of His word and to experience and live out His word; that is the reality of your belief in God. If you believe in God and hope for eternal life without seeking to practice the word of God as something you have within you, then you’re foolish; it’s like going to a feast only to take note of what’s there to eat without actually trying it. Isn’t a person like that foolish?
The truth that man needs to possess is found in the word of God, a truth that is the most beneficial and helpful to mankind. It is the tonic and sustenance that your body needs, something that helps man restore his normal humanity, a truth that man should be equipped with. The more you practice God’s word, the more quickly your life will blossom; the more you practice God’s word, the clearer the truth becomes. As you grow in stature, you will see things of the spiritual world more clearly, and you will be more powerful to triumph over Satan. Much of the truth that you don’t understand will be made clear when you practice the word of God. Most people are satisfied to merely understand the text of God’s word and focus on equipping themselves with doctrines without experiencing its depth in practice; isn’t that the way of the Pharisees? How can the phrase “The word of God is life” be true for them, then? Only when man practices the word of God can his life truly blossom; it cannot grow simply by reading His word. If it is your belief that to understand God’s word is all that is needed to have life, to have stature, then your understanding is warped. Truly understanding God’s word occurs when you practice the truth, and you must understand that “only by practicing the truth can it ever be understood.” Today, after reading the word of God, you can merely say that you know God’s word, but you can’t say that you understand it. Some say that the only way to practice the truth is to understand it first, but this is only half right and not entirely accurate. Before you have knowledge of a truth, you have not experienced that truth. Feeling that you understand what you hear is not the same thing as truly understanding. To equip yourself with the truth as it is seen in text isn’t the same as understanding the true meaning therein. Just because you have a skin-deep knowledge of the truth doesn’t mean you actually understand it or recognize it; the true meaning of the truth comes from having experienced it. Therefore, only when you experience the truth can you understand it, and only when you experience the truth can you grasp the hidden parts of it. To experience it in depth is the only way to grasp the connotations of the truth, to understand the essence of it.
from “Practice the Truth Once You Understand It” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If you want to put the truth into practice and understand it, first you must understand the essence of the difficulties you yourself face and the things that happen around you, what the problem is, and what aspect of the truth it is related to. You must seek this out. After that, seek the truth based on the real difficulties of yours. That way you gradually experience this, and you will be able to see the hand of God, what He wants to do, and the results He wants in you in everything that happens around you. … What do you have to resolve first? First you must eat and drink God’s word more, you must listen more, you must seek more. You must eat until you are full, drink until you are sated, until you are growing quickly and you have stature, and then you will be able to do some things, you will be able to withstand some trials and temptations. At that time, you will feel that you truly have gained and understood some of the truth, and you will feel that God’s words truly are what mankind needs, what mankind should obtain, and that it really is the unmatched, life-giving truth in the world.
from “The Importance and the Path of Pursuing the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks