Meiyu Benxi City, Liaoning Province
Whenever the subject of knowing God is mentioned, some people will say, “When I believe in God, I will just believe in God, and I will do whatever God asks me to do and do it just as God requires me. Then won’t I satisfy God? Besides, in my daily life I will pay attention to examining what corruptions I have expressed, and when I find any, I will pay attention to having it transformed. Won’t this be enough? Why should I pursue to know God?” And other people will say, “I have never seen the incarnated God; then how should I know him?” In a word, in our experience, we either do not pursue to know God or have no idea how to know God.
To deal with some people’s viewpoint that it is unnecessary to pursue to know God when believing in God, let us carefully consider these questions: What does it mean to believe in God? Can a belief without any knowledge of God be called believing in God? Is such a belief approved by God? God’s word says: “Although many people believe in God, few understand what it means to believe in God and what they should do to be after God’s heart. The very reason for this is that although people know the word ‘God’ and the words like ‘God’s work,’ they do not know God, much less know God’s work. It is no wonder that all those who do not know God are believing foolishly. …That is to say, if people do not know God and do not know God’s work, they cannot be fit for God to use, much less satisfy God’s heart’s desire. ‘Belief in God’ means to believe that there is God, which is the simplest concept of ‘belief in God.’ To go a step further, believing that there is God is not a true belief in God but a simple belief, which has a strong religious color. The true meaning of ‘belief in God’ is that one, on the basis of believing that God is the Ruler of all things, experiences God’s word and experiences God’s work, and reaches the point where he casts off his corrupt disposition and satisfies God’s heart’s desire and reaches the point where he knows God. Only such a course is belief in God. But people often regard the matter of believing in God as very simple and very light. People who believe in God like this have lost the meaning of believing in God. Even if they believe to the end, they will not be able to receive God’s approval, because the way they walk is not right.” From this passage of God’s word, we can see this: The course of our believing in God is to be a course of knowing God, and if we believe in God but do not pursue to know God, our believing is believing foolishly, is a religious vague belief, and is not approved by God at all; truly believing in God must be based on having knowledge of God, and if we do not have knowledge of God, we will lose the meaning of believing in God, and we will not receive God’s approval even if we believe to the end. This is because if we believe in God but do not know God, not knowing what kind of God God is, then it is certain that we believe in God according to our own notions and imaginations, and what we believe in is the vague and non-existent god in our heart. Such a believing is too empty and too unrealistic, and moreover, in substance it is not at all believing in God but believing in ourselves. How can this be called believing in God? How can this be approved by God? Just as The Fellowship of the Man says: “If your vague way of believing is not resolved, God will never acknowledge your believing, and he will also exclude you from his salvation. This is because you do not have a true faith, you are one who doubts God, and you are believing in the vague and non-existent god in your heart, which has nothing to do with the Practical God. If you believe in such a way, God will not take notice of you, much less can he possibly save you….” God also says plainly: “Those who do not pursue to know God and to satisfy God are not ones who believe in God but ones who blaspheme God!” Therefore, to know God is not unnecessary as some people have considered, but rather it is what all believers in God must pursue. Only if we pursue to know God, to know God’s disposition, and to know God’s original image in experiencing God’s work, will our believing be practical and be after God’s heart.
Another reason why we think it is unnecessary to pursue to know God when believing in God is that we are unclear about the purpose and the result God wants to achieve by working on people through being incarnated in the end time. God’s word says: “God has spent so much painstaking effort to work personally through being incarnated the second time, just for the purpose that man can know him and see him. The work of ‘knowing God’ is the ultimate result God will achieve in man when he ends the work and is God’s ultimate requirement for mankind. God does such a work for the sake of his ultimate testimony and for the purpose that mankind can completely return to him in the end.” “The purpose for God to come among people today is to change their mind and spirit and God’s image in their heart for thousands of years and perfect all of them by this opportunity, that is, through people’s ‘knowledge’ to change their knowledge of God and their attitude toward God, causing them to have a completely new knowledge of God, so that their heart can be renewed and changed. …so that God’s real image can be deeply rooted in the depths of their hearts. This is God’s only wish on earth. Regardless of how big people’s inborn nature is, how bad their essence is, and what their former deeds were actually like, God does not look at these, but he only hopes that people can have the image of God in their heart completely renewed and know the essence of mankind, so that they can change their ideological outlook, can long for God from deep within, and have an eternal attachment to God. This is God’s only requirement for people.” From God’s words we see that God undergoes all kinds of humiliations and sufferings and expends so much painstaking care to work personally through being incarnated the second time for the purpose that he can reveal to us his disposition and his original image, thereby removing the images of the vague god from our hearts, letting God’s original image take root deep in the depths of our hearts, and renewing God’s image in our hearts, so that we can stand in the position of a created being to worship God and obey God, and can long for God, rely on God, and adore God deep in our hearts. This is the ultimate result God wants to achieve by working on us. However, in the course of our believing in God, because we do not know God, so many times when Christ’s work does not fit our imaginations, we have misunderstandings, notions, and resistance within us, and we even condemn Christ with God’s words as the Pharisees did. So many times we cannot stand in our position to obey Christ, and we ask Christ to satisfy us according to our will. So many times we regard Christ who bestows to us the truth and the life as a man, and we separate God’s Spirit from God’s flesh, thinking that God’s Spirit is forever lofty and almighty while God’s flesh is forever small and weak and powerless, so that we cannot accept God’s searching in doing things. So many times we do not have a heart of fearing God and caring for God’s burden, and we treat God perfunctorily and cheat God in performing our duty. So many times we cannot worry what God worries or think what God thinks, but on the contrary we love what God hates and hate what God loves and act in opposition to God. And so on. All these manifestations sufficiently show that our hearts are still full of our notions and imaginations and are still occupied by the vague invisible god, so that we are unable to truly worship and look up to the practical God of today. This is also the fundamental cause why we still resist God and cannot truly obey God after having believed in God for many years. Therefore, we should cherish and treasure all of God’s works and words and should cooperate with God’s work and spare no effort to pursue to know God. Otherwise, our notions and imaginations about God and our disobedience and resistance against God can never be resolved, nor can God’s end-time work produce the due results in us. Then, won’t we have followed God in vain? Just as God’s word says: “God has been leading mankind until today. Since he created men on earth, he has never left them. The Holy Spirit has been continuously working and leading men and has never been away from them. But men do not know there is God, much less know God. Isn’t this a most shameful thing for all created beings? God leads men personally, but they do not understand God’s work. You are a created being, but you do not know your history, do not know who has been leading you through your journey, and do not know the work God has done. Then you cannot know God. If you still do not know these now, you will never be qualified to be God’s witness! Today, the Creator is personally leading all people again, letting them see his wisdom, his almightiness, his salvation, and his wonderfulness. However, you still do not know or understand them; then aren’t you one who cannot receive salvation?” From these we see that pursuing to know God when believing in God is an important matter that directly has to do with our salvation. Only if we pursue to know God will God’s work produce results in us, and only if we pursue to know God will it be possible for us to achieve success in believing in God; otherwise, we will only be rejected by God for failing to achieve the results required by God even if we believe to the end.
Besides, it is actually very unrealistic and incorrect for us to think that it is unnecessary to pursue to know God and we can satisfy God as long as we act according to God’s requirements. In fact, for us who have been deeply corrupted by satan and who have the nature of resisting God and disobeying God, it will be impossible to satisfy God without having true knowledge of God. This is because if we do not know God, it will be impossible for us to act according to God’s requirements, much less to obey God absolutely. God’s word says: “It is on the basis of understanding God’s will that people can satisfy God. To understand God’s will, one has to have knowledge of God. Such knowledge is the vision he must have in believing in God and is the foundation for his believing in God. If one does not have such knowledge, he is believing in God in vagueness and in empty doctrines. Such people will gain nothing even if they have the will to follow. … Only when one knows God will he love God, and to love God, one has to know God. No matter how one pursues and what he pursues to gain, only if he can know God can he satisfy God’s heart. Only when one knows God will he have true faith in God, and only when one knows God will he have true fear of and true obedience to God. Those who do not know God will never have true obedience to and true fear of God.” From God’s words, we see that if people want to satisfy God, they can only achieve it on the basis of understanding God’s will and having knowledge of God. This is because only after they have knowledge of God can they have true faith in God and have true obedience to and fear of God, and only after they have knowledge of God, knowing about God’s disposition and knowing God’s joys and sorrows, can they act according to God’s will in everything and satisfy God. It is just like our wanting to show filial piety and respect to our parents. If we know nothing about our parents’ tempers, characters, and likes, we will not be able to do according to their will. And in the real life, we will even have misunderstandings about them for not knowing about them, or we may irritate them rather than please them because the things we have paid a great price to do for them may exactly be what they oppose. The same is true with our believing in God today. If we want to satisfy God, we must first know God, knowing about God’s disposition and understanding God’s will, and know what requirements God has for us. Only then can we do according to God’s will. Otherwise, even if we have the desire to satisfy God, it will be impossible for us to satisfy God, and we will even lose faith in God or misunderstand and complain against God because of not having true knowledge of God. For example: During the period of the tribulation, because we did not know God’s wisdom and almightiness, when facing the desperate persecution from the great red dragon, we did not even want to read God’s word or want to perform our duty and lived in fear all the time. We did not have any testimony, let alone satisfy God. In preaching the gospel, because we have no knowledge of God’s almightiness and sovereignty, although we are so determined and willing to cooperate with God to bring the gospel friends before God, nevertheless, after having cooperated several times, when we see the gospel friends remain unmoved, we become discouraged and disappointed and are not willing to cooperate anymore. For another example: Because we do not have knowledge of God’s beautiful and good substance and God’s true love for mankind, we often have misunderstandings about God. In performing our duty, once we make some mistakes and thus bring losses to the work of God’s family, we live in a passive and defensive state, worrying that we may be punished by God, and are in no mood to perform our duty properly to satisfy God. In the trials of illnesses, we live in suspicions and misunderstandings, thinking that we are not ones to be saved by God, and thus we are unwilling to perform our duty and even utter complaints, to say nothing of standing the testimony to satisfy God. When we lose our position and are also asked to go home, or when we cannot perform our duty because of having illnesses and are asked to go home, we are unable to go forward in experience and are full of misunderstandings and complaints about God, thinking that God’s family kills the donkey the moment it leaves the millstone, and we will even say some words of blaspheming and offending God. Thus it can be seen that if we do not have knowledge of God, on the path of believing in God we will be full of misunderstandings and complaints about God, will become discouraged and disappointed and often be passive and weak, and will even fall and fail, and even if we want to satisfy God, we will not be able to do so.
Furthermore, if we do not know God when believing in God, not only will we not satisfy God, but we will resist God because of not knowing God. God’s word says: “The reason why men resist God is, on the one hand, because of their corrupt disposition, and on the other hand, because they do not know God and do not understand the principles of God’s working and God’s will for man. These two aspects together form the history of men’s resisting God. Those who first believe in God resist God because they have the nature of resisting God. Those who have believed in God for years resist God because they do not know God and also because of their corrupt disposition.” “It is because men believe in God but do not know God that they do not have a heart of fearing God and do not have a heart of dreading God. … Many men act wildly and willfully, have no regard for God at all, and do whatever they want to do. …” “If you do not know God’s disposition, you cannot possibly do for God what you should do. If you do not know God’s substance, you cannot possibly have fear and dread toward God, but only casual perfunctoriness and prevarication, and even more, irredeemable blasphemy.” From God’s words, we see that if people do not know God, they will easily resist God, offend God, and sin against God, and that if people do not know God, they will disregard God’s existence, act willfully and recklessly, and behave mindlessly and carelessly, and it will be impossible for them to serve God with a fearful and trembling heart, much less to treat God as God. Throughout history there have been so many believers in God who resisted God because of not knowing God. The following are some examples: The Pharisees, because of not knowing God, nailed the sinless Jesus onto the cross, committing a monstrous sin. So many people in every denomination and sect, because of not knowing God, frenziedly resisted, blasphemed, and slandered the incarnated God of today and became antichrists. So many people in God’s family today, because of not knowing about God’s disposition, did not have any fear of God and often spoke with an unbridled tongue, saying that God was also unfair in treating people and that serving God is a matter of keeping the emperor company and is like living with a tiger. They directly attacked God and reviled God and were eventually rejected by God for offending God’s disposition. Some people, because of not knowing God’s almighty substance of searching everything, cheated God behind his back, spent the money of God’s family secretly, or had affairs, and in the end, they were expelled by God’s family. It is really shocking to see these examples of the failures. From these, we see that if people do not know God, they will eventually nail God onto the cross again, will inevitably resist God and provoke God to anger, and will ultimately be rejected by God and cursed by God. In the face of these facts, will we still say that to pursue to know God has nothing to do with our believing in God? As we do not have the organ to comprehend the truth and understand God’s will, and besides, we disobey God and resist God by nature, if we do not pursue to know God and do not pursue to understand God’s will, it will be impossible for us to have obedience to and fear of God, much less to satisfy God, and we will only complain against and misunderstand God, disobey and resist God, and offend and blaspheme God.
Since it is so important for us to know God, then how should we pursue to know God? What does it really mean to know God? What aspects does knowing God include? God’s word says: “What does it mean to know God? It means that man can know about God’s pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy. This is what it means to know God.” “Knowing God’s disposition, understanding God’s will, and knowing God’s being are all included in knowing God. …” “To know God, man has to do it through reading God’s word and knowing God’s word. Someone says, ‘I have never seen the incarnated God; how should I know God?’ Actually, God’s word is an expression of God’s disposition. From God’s word, you can see God’s love for mankind, God’s salvation for mankind, the ways of God’s saving man…. For the word is expressed by God and not written through a man; it is expressed by God Godself personally; God Godself expresses his own word, expresses his inner voice. Why is it called the inner word? Because it is expressed from the bottom of his heart, expressing his disposition and expressing his will, his thoughts, his love for mankind, his salvation for mankind, and his expectations for mankind.” In The Fellowship of the Man, it says: “Knowing God which we often talk about refers to the degree man can reach. It mainly means that man has some knowledge of God’s work, has some knowledge of God’s disposition, and eventually has knowledge of God’s substance, has some understanding of God’s will, and can exalt God and testify to God’s deeds. It is mainly in these several aspects that man can reach the degree God requires; this means that he has knowledge of God.” From these words, we know that to know God, man has to do it mainly through reading God’s word, because God’s word is expressed by God Godself personally, and it is God Godself who expresses his own being and expresses his own disposition. Through his word, God expresses his disposition and his being. Through his word, God tells us how man has been corrupted by satan, how mankind has developed until today, how God’s management plan came into being, and the three stages of his works of saving man. Through his word, God expresses his work of each age, the many principles and scopes of the Holy Spirit’s working, the ways of his expressing his disposition, and the various ways of his saving man. Through his word, God expresses his will and his requirements and expectations for man. Through his word, God expresses his boundless and immeasurable love for mankind and his tolerance and salvation for mankind, and expresses his beautiful and good substance and his being. Through his word, God expresses his righteous disposition that is majestic and wrathful and intolerant of man’s offense. … Therefore, we should pay attention to knowing God in God’s word. Besides, we can pursue to know God’s substance, know about God’s disposition, and know God’s being from some work arrangements of God’s family, from how God handles and comments on certain things, and from God’s attitudes toward all kinds of people. Further, we can also know God’s righteous disposition from the working of the Holy Spirit on us: When we intentionally obey God, how the Holy Spirit grants grace to us, how he inspires and guides us, and how our states are; when we stay away from God and disobey God, how God treats us…. As long as we can spend more effort on God’s word, pay attention to knowing God in our experience at ordinary times, pursue to know God with all our might and with perseverance, and pray to God more to receive God’s mercy and grace, I believe that we will surely gain a lot in knowing God.
May we all take knowing God as the goal of our pursuit, pay attention to touching God’s will and discovering God’s lovely aspects in God’s word as Peter did, and soon become a real believer in God who truly knows God and worships God.