Chapter 63. Only Through Pursuing to Know God Can We Be Saved and Perfected
● What Is the Significance of Knowing God?
Why do we pursue to know God? In what lies the significance of knowing God? After man was corrupted by Satan, he became a man of Satan and opposed to God. For thousands of years, man has been subject to the influence of all kinds of poisons of Satan and its various kinds of education; man has been completely possessed by Satan’s poisons, by its falsehoods and philosophies. Therefore, man has unwittingly become opposed to God and arrayed with Satan in its work of opposing God. When God comes to do His work, man measures God’s work by his own notions and the philosophies of Satan. Having seen that God’s work does not accord with those notions, he starts to take Satan’s part in judging God and resisting Him. After man has accepted God’s work, he does his duty and serves God according to his own likes and notions. The result is that once again he unwittingly offends God’s disposition, and becomes opposed to Him. So, whether you accept God or not, whether you truly believe in Him or only pretend to, as long as you do not have real knowledge of God, you are opposed to Him; this is categorical. You say: “I do feel that God is good, I am most willing to love God, most willing to obey Him.” These are desires in your heart. But if you do not have real knowledge of God, you will be unable to obey Him, you will be unable to love Him despite your wanting to. What now is the reason for this? God’s work does not conform to your notions, so, you cannot love Him. God’s work does not conform to your notions, so, you cannot serve Him. The minute you serve Him, you will cause disruption, you will go against His will. The minute you serve Him, you will take the wrong road. This is proven by the experiences of countless others. Therefore, if you do not know God, no matter how determined you are, you will be unable to obey Him, and you will be unable to serve Him. If man does not know God, his life disposition will never change, for Satan’s poisons, philosophies, logic, and laws within him, the knowledge of the social sciences he carries within, his outlook on life, his values, and his idea of happiness, all of these belong to Satan, all of these go against God’s will. How, then, are we to address them? What is the effect upon man of their wielding power within him? Is it not his hostility to God? If those things of Satan within man are not addressed, man will continue as ever to oppose God, because those things wield power within his heart. Even when he does not want to oppose God, he will do so; even when he does not want to judge God, he will do just that. Man is unable to control himself, for those things are just his points of view and he sees things according to them. What means must we employ, then, if we want to address these poisons of Satan? By understanding the truth, and by knowing God. When you understand a truth, you will distinguish those things within you that are opposed to it, you will distinguish those things within you that are incompatible with it. When the truth is accepted by you, it will wield power within you, it will take charge within you; those various poisons of Satan opposed to the truth will not be able to remain, and shall be abandoned by you, discarded and cleansed away by you. These poisons of Satan are cleansed away through the truth in this way. The more truths you accept, the more those things of Satan within you will be rejected and denied, and finally lose their place. Once the truths you accept take charge and are able to stand within you, you will have been purified by God’s words; this is the fruit of the work of God. The more you understand the truth, and the more you know God, the more the truth will wield power within you. Thus the things that are of Satan will be cleansed and swept away and you will be one who has been purified; this is precisely the effect of the knowledge of God. Therefore, by knowing God you will be purified, and you will have a heart within you that is obedient to God and that loves Him. Thus, you will be fundamentally changed in your life disposition. Therefore, the significance of pursuing to know God lies in its ability to bring about changes in our life disposition, and in its ability to cause us to be cleansed within from the poisons of Satan and to make us achieve true obedience to God, true love of God and true worship of Him. This is the greatest significance of knowing God. Now we are certain that it is only by knowing God that we can be saved and that we can change from being a man of Satan and opposed to God into being a man of God and truly obedient to Him. These are the fruits of knowing God. Knowing God can make us truly obedient to Him and worship Him. If we are someone obedient to God, someone who worships Him, are we not then living out a real life? A real life is what someone who can obey God and worship Him lives out. … Why does God require all mankind to be obedient to Him and worship Him? Where does its meaning lie? Some people say: “We humans like when people obey and love us, and God has the same disposition as us: He requires man to obey Him and love Him.” Is such an explanation right? Some say: “Some leaders always ask people to obey them, to love them, follow them; this is arrogance and conceit. As God also requires man to obey Him, to love Him, then God’s disposition is pretty much the same as man’s.” Does this stand up? Think about what the consequences of people’s obedience to a man are. What are the consequences of people loving a man? Is this meaningful? All men are corrupt; none are worthy of being loved by others, of being obeyed by them. Man is not the truth. Therefore, for a corrupt man to make such demands is to be arrogant and conceited. God is the Lord of creation, He is the truth, the way, and the life, and He is the Almighty, the Master of the heavens and earth and all things. What is the significance of His requiring man to love and obey Him? Everything that God does is most meaningful, but for mankind it is a profound mystery. Only someone who acts in accordance with God’s words is able one day, having experienced it to a certain depth, to understand this profound mystery. When they understand it, then they will have truly gained God and obtained the truth. The Lord of creation requires that mankind know Him, that mankind worship Him; this is perfectly justified. No man is qualified to demand that people obey him, that people love him; man is not God, man does not have the almightiness and wisdom of God, and no part of man is worthy of people’s love. Thus, if any man makes such demands, he is too arrogant and conceited, and he is expressing the disposition of Satan. … Why does God require that we know Him? Because God is the truth. Who will benefit when man has gained the truth? It is man who will benefit; as for God, He has gained nothing, but He will feel satisfied with man, whom He created. It is man who will benefit; it will be a boon for man. If you do not pursue to know God, you will not be able to gain the truth; if you fail to gain the truth, as a creature, you will not live out a life of meaning and value. Therefore, God requires you to know Him in order to let you live well, to let you live happily and live meaningfully. Is this not God’s love for mankind? God requires you to listen to Him, because He is the truth, the way, and the life; He is of infinite wisdom, He knows the right way for man to live, and knows what we lack, and He knows the most meaningful life we should live out—God knows best of all. God is the truth, and so He requires you to pursue knowledge of Him. He does so in order that you can gain the truth, that you can obtain life, that you can live more meaningfully, happier; this is why God requires you to do so. God asks His creatures to pursue knowledge of Him in order for them to gain the truth, and in order that they will live meaningfully, will not go astray, follow Satan, or be tricked and bewildered by it, and will come out from under its domain, so that they will enter upon a life of light. Therefore, that God requires mankind to pursue knowledge of Him is out of His love for mankind. So if we are now asked whether this requirement of God is good for His creatures or not, the answer is “Yes!” We have to realize the significance of this; it is not that God is arrogant and conceited. God in Himself is greatest and noblest; He is the Master; whether you worship Him or not, God is the Master. The main reason that God requires man to pursue knowledge of Him is to let mankind that He created live more happily, live a life of greater worth and meaning. In this way God will be satisfied with His creatures, and will be glad and consoled in His heart. Thus, that God requires man to know Him, love and obey Him has a positive meaning; it is not of the same meaning as people demanding this from others. That is being arrogant and conceited, is of their extravagant desire; that is being senseless. That is expressing their corruption and being perverse. Whatever God requires of His creatures stems from His love of them and is to save them; it is to make them take the right path and be happier, and thus God will be satisfied. So, are you now willing to pursue knowledge of God? Are you clear about what fruits your doing so brings? It is the case that you can only gain the truth through pursuing to know God. It is only when you have gained the truth that you can live in the light, and it is only when you live in light that you will be living out the likeness of a real man, and living out a real life. Therefore, the significance of pursuing to know God is so vast and so far-reaching.
● The Process of Knowing God that Man Undergoes Through Pursuing the Truth
Knowing God is chiefly the fruit of our experience of God’s judgment and chastisement and our experience of all His other work. When our acceptance of the judgment and chastisement of God has achieved a certain effect, and we have come to know our corrupt essence and the fact and reality of our corruption, we will see that we do not live in human likeness and that we all bear the likeness of Satan, and we will think, “Now I know people really do not have the likeness of humans.” At that point, we will feel, “So, this is the fruit God’s judgment and chastisement brings to man; by means of them I see the enormous fact of man’s corruption by Satan to the extent we are almost unrecognizable as humans. Now I’ve realized this, and the degree of my knowledge of it approaches what God says. I say a mighty ‘Amen’ to what God has said on the extent of man’s corruption; I totally approve, it’s not a bit excessive. What God says, and what God reveals completely accord with the facts. It is no exaggeration!” Thus, we will have gained not only some knowledge of our own corrupt essence, but a little understanding as well that the words of God are the truth, that they are the life and the way; at the same time we will also have gained a little knowledge of God’s disposition. Why does God hate this corrupted mankind? It is because they fully follow Satan, and are possessed by it and have no human likeness at all; for this reason God hates them. Since God hates mankind, why is it that He does not destroy them, but rather, judges and chastises them? This is, unquestionably, to save them. God hates mankind’s corruption, He hates mankind’s rebellion and resistance against Him. Yet why has God come to save mankind? It is because He has real love for mankind! Mankind is His creation; He loves mankind which He created, and that is why He has come to save them. Can we not see clearly God’s love in His saving mankind? Of course we can. Regardless of how stern God’s words of judging and chastising man are, everything God does is love for us. It is because He has love for mankind that He judges us and chastises us. His judgment and chastisement of us is entirely to save us. This is what we call God’s love. In the Age of Grace, for the sake of the sins of mankind, God was nailed to the cross and shed His precious blood; this, too, was because of His love. Today He has again been incarnated to judge and to chastise mankind; this is even more because of His love. In particular, when God is incarnated, He has taken the likeness of a common human. God, the most almighty, the most exalted, has put on the flesh of a common man; is this not a humiliation? Since man is a creature in his aspect, it is per se a humiliation when God dresses Himself in the image of His creature and man looks down on Him. When Jesus came, what did people say? “Isn’t that the son of Joseph, isn’t that the son of the carpenter?” Was God not thus humiliated? This time God has become flesh as a female; is He not thus humiliated? Does the Spirit of God not suffer? Does His heart not suffer? Yet even so, man is still so judgmental of Him, so resistant against Him, has so many notions about Him, and is so unaccepting of Him, that the humiliation God suffers is immense. God has undergone this immense humiliation yet still saves man; is this not love? Many say, “Well, I cannot see how God loves us!” They simply cannot see God’s love. What is the problem with those who cannot see God’s love? They fail to see clearly God’s work, His judgment and chastisement, and the suffering God incarnate endures, they cannot feel these things. Then why does God suffer such great humiliation, and undergo so much suffering to save man? Is this love of His not manifest here? The first time God became flesh, He was crucified to take the sins of mankind upon Himself; was God not humiliated? Did He Himself sin? He was without sin; He was crucified for our sins. So when this corrupted mankind condemned Him, resisted Him, and spurned Him, did He not suffer? Was He not grieved? If your parents did such things, could you, their children, understand? Parents would shed no tears on the outside for all the suffering they endured for their children’s sake; they would be weeping and bleeding in their hearts. Could you see it? There are many who always fail to see the love of God; such people do not know how to experience the work of God, they do not have a heart; they never consider what suffering God has undergone. Should they suffer a little, they hurry to voice complaint, they hurry to tell others, and hurry to pray to God. They fail to understand how much suffering God has endured; they cannot conceive of it. So tell me, do such people have a heart? Do they have a conscience or reason? You have experienced so much of God’s work and so many words of God, and you have gained so much knowledge of your own corruption, and have understood some truths, but how can you not feel, “God has spoken so many words to save me, so He must have endured great humiliation and much suffering; this must be His great love for us”? If you really see that God loves you so much, then how should you reciprocate that love? If you think this way, your conscience has returned to normal, your conscience stirs, and you are a person who has a conscience and reason. As someone with a conscience, you can reciprocate God’s love. In addition, regardless how much you suffer, you can still see how great the suffering that God has endured. The suffering we undergo pales beside His. It is us who should suffer, not God; the suffering that God has undergone, who should not, is even greater than the suffering that we undergo, who ought to. How on earth are we to understand this? Hence, if you have a conscience and reason, should you not do your part? Should you not dedicate your heart to God? Do you not have a heart that loves God? This is the first knowledge of God that we will achieve in experiencing God’s work: The knowledge of God’s love. As our experience deepens, we will see God’s love ever more clearly, and know it ever more profoundly; in the end we will feel that everything that God does is His love. When our experience finally brings us to the point that we have true knowledge of God, then our hearts will be able to truly love Him. When people reach the point of loving God to a certain degree, as true lovers of God, can they dedicate everything to Him? Can they offer up their own lives? For the sake of God they can happily die, for this is to be exalted by God. Who is worthy to die for His sake?! With the deepening of their experience, their knowledge of God’s love will also deepen, and their love of God will become ever more real. When it is finally unadulterated, they will be able to obey to the point of death, and like Peter, they will be able to offer up their lives to God, living for God, living to bear witness for Him, and living to carry out His will; such are the real children of God. What we first know in experiencing God’s work is His love. Experiencing it a further period, and seeing God’s judgment and chastisement of man, and seeing God’s disposition of righteousness toward man’s disobedience, resistance and betrayal, we will then have true knowledge of God’s righteousness; we will feel that God’s disposition is indeed righteous. God will not easily let go anyone who offends His disposition, and whoever offends His disposition must be punished and receive retribution; discipline will be for minor cases, punishment for serious ones, and retribution for the more serious. Having experienced several years of God’s work, when our love of God is established, we will see that God’s disposition is righteous, but at the same time God is full of mercy. God’s merciful aspect is that He can forgive all the corruptions, the resistance and disobedience that we express in the course of believing in Him, and He continues to work upon us, and to enlighten and illuminate us and to save us. Does this not mean that He has a merciful aspect? We will also see at the same time that God’s disposition is righteous. When we know the truth perfectly well yet offend God, we will see that He punishes and disciplines us, releasing His righteous anger, full of majesty and wrath. At times when we involuntarily reveal some corruptions, and commit some transgressions, we will see that God does not abandon us, and that He is still merciful and loving toward us. At this moment we will have a basic and correct knowledge of God’s disposition, which is: Though God is a righteous God, He is full of mercy and love for those He saves, while He is majestic and wrathful toward them. God was a merciful and loving God in the Age of Grace. God is now the God of righteousness. This God of righteousness is both merciful and loving, and majestic and wrathful; His disposition has righteousness at its core. At this moment we will have a precise knowledge of God’s inherent disposition. This is the beginning of knowing God’s disposition, and this is the second fruit of experiencing the work of God that leads to knowledge of God.
After further experience of God’s work, we will have some knowledge of all that God has and is and have some actual seeing of it as evident in God incarnate. For example, how He hides Himself in humbleness: God is almighty, and God has revealed the purpose of His management plan and expressed His righteous disposition and uttered His words on the truth, the way and the life that corrupt mankind must possess, but God never shows off Himself and instead hides Himself in humbleness. Before man He never says that He is God; He never demands that people absolutely listen to Him, and He never demands that people act before Him good and well-disciplined. God never shows off Himself, but hides Himself in humbleness. From the disposition God incarnate reveals we see clearly that God is so great and He is the truth, the way, and the life, full of dignity, but He does not show off Himself in the slightest and instead hides Himself in humbleness. As for corrupt mankind, not one of us has the ability to achieve this. If people get some enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, they like to show it off, to tell it to others; they look straightaway for a chance to communicate to others that little illumination they get today, and scramble to testify to that little reality they enter into tomorrow. If they have some status and are able to communicate a little truth, they feel “Wow!” as if they are in heaven, and look down on everyone else. But in Christ you will not see the slightest corrupt disposition shown, you will not see in Him a trace of what corrupt mankind manifests. Christ never shows off Himself before man; He is never self-righteous, never brags, He shows nothing of this. He hides Himself in humbleness, and no one knows that He is God. Is this not God as He is? Corrupt mankind cannot do this, no one can. There is this as well: The flesh God is clothed in is ordinary and normal. This is a profound mystery. God has come to do His work to save man, and to man’s thinking God should be clothed in a flesh of great image; His external appearance ought to be honorable and exalted and worthy of man’s praise. But the flesh that God is clothed in is exactly the opposite of what man would think; His flesh is ordinary and normal. This “ordinary and normal” is hard for people to accept, and there’s no way to stop them coming up with their own notions about it. What constitutes the profound mystery in this? It’s as if God has deliberately created a conundrum, neither great nor small, for His creature, mankind. God has created this conundrum, and man is not able to get past it. But the might of God’s words is greater than that of His signs and wonders. However ordinary and normal God’s physical body may be, all those whom God has predestined to be chosen, who should accept this, have done so. Regardless of how great their notions are, there are few who can leave God. There are some who have left Him for a period, but must still hurry back; the church has expelled many, but they nevertheless try desperately to find a chance to come back. What is happening here? That the appearance of God’s physical body does not conform to people’s notions does not affect people’s faith in God; this is the power of God’s words! When Jesus came to do His work, He performed so many signs and wonders that there were at least four or five thousand people who followed Him. But after Jesus was crucified, all of them scattered. Is the might of God’s signs and wonders greater than that of His words? No! The Christ of now performs no signs and wonders, He simply utters His words, yet thoroughly conquers all. Those who pursue the truth know God ever more deeply, their love for Him grows ever more real, and their obedience to Him ever more absolute. Eventually, though the great red dragon persecutes and oppresses them so frenziedly, God’s chosen ones, on the contrary, become ever stronger. How do you explain this? The might of God’s words is greater than that of His signs and wonders, and all this is the fruit of God’s words. However ordinary and normal God’s physical body may be, God’s great work is accomplished. Initially people have so many notions in accepting God, but in the end they lose them all and become all obedient; these notions of theirs have been replaced by their genuine knowledge of and obedience to God. Is this not the fruit of His words? How do religious people see it? “When Jesus came, He performed so many signs and wonders; now, that is God! What signs and wonders accompany the God you believe in?” Some have replied, “The words uttered forth by the God we believe in are all powerful; the might of God’s words is greater than that of His signs and wonders.” But those religious people cannot see it; we who undergo God’s work have all experienced it. Man cannot live without the words of God; without them there is only death and perdition. With God’s words you are brought to life within, and you feel enjoyment, peace, and assurance. These are real feelings. No one can be without God’s words. Regardless of the depth of your understanding of the truth, to be without God’s words means God is not with you, it means the working of the Holy Spirit is not with you. Without God’s words your heart fills with sadness, suffering and darkness. This is absolute. From God’s physical body we see that God never glorifies or shows off Himself, He always hides Himself in humbleness, and He stands on the same footing as man in relating to us. No one can see a trace of the corruption of Satan in Him, and no one can see the slightest manifestation of corrupt disposition in Him. Hence, the words of God state that God incarnate is uncorrupted by Satan. This is a fact! He has an ordinary and normal humanity, but He is without Satan’s corruption. God incarnate hides Himself in humbleness and never shows off Himself, He never demands anything of man and never expresses any desire for the luxury of finer things. Furthermore, God incarnate possesses a normal humanity, the most important manifestations of which are: Feelings of repulsion and abhorrence toward those who are evil or are devoid of humanity and despising of those who resist God or who are evil, and sympathy for those who are good. God is repulsed by anyone whose humanity is not good or is too bad; He likes anyone who pursues the truth, who is quite simple and good at heart. … There are many specifics in the knowledge of all that God has and is. How should you know the wisdom of God? How God uses Satan in His service, how God mobilizes the great red dragon in His service, and how God lets His chosen ones gain discernment via the working of evil spirits of every kind and achieve perfection, these are the wisdom of God. If you do not know the wisdom of God, you will easily misunderstand Him, and it will be easy for you to come up with your own notions, and think, “Look, God does His work, yet how is it that in His church there are evil spirits working? How do evil people still exist in it?” When God first began to do His work, He said this; He referred to using evil spirits of every kind and evil people at the conclusion of His work to do a step of service. How then will evil people do a step of service? How will evil spirits do it? It is through them that God will enable those who pursue the truth to learn to grow in discernment. The result sought to be achieved through the service rendered by evil people and evil spirits is their true knowledge of God, true knowledge of the truth and positive things and discernment of negative things. Once you have true knowledge of the wisdom of God in His work, you will more easily know His almightiness. You see how God mobilizes Satan and the great red dragon to render service; does this not represent too His almightiness? Some people have blind faith in the great red dragon, and worship it. They think, “The great red dragon is formidable and much too ferocious! Average people cannot defeat it, for it has power. See, even God incarnate has to go, He has to leave when the great red dragon comes after Him. Maybe even God cannot destroy the great red dragon!” How stupid are they trying to be? Eventually the day will come, when God’s chosen ones have been perfected, and God shall begin to chastise the great red dragon in due form. You’ll see how it collapses, how it’s done for. At that time you’ll see that it is God who is almighty, so almighty, and Satan is forever vanquished by Him. At that time, which must be when God’s work ends, you will have real knowledge too of God’s almightiness. After you have knowledge of all that God has and is, the last step in knowing Him is knowledge of His essence. Let us look now at what God’s essence is. God’s essence is Spirit, so what He can do is not just limited to what His physical body can do. As His essence is Spirit, He is almighty. He can govern all things, He can maneuver all things. Furthermore, from the perspective of the work of God incarnate, we see that God’s essence is the truth, the way, and the life; every word God has uttered is the truth, and everything He has said is the way man must follow. Since everything God has uttered is the truth, it is also the life mankind should have. When mankind has attained the truth, and has God’s words as their life, mankind will then have been completely saved, and have truly been perfected by God. At that time people will live out the true likeness of man. Therefore, those with true knowledge of God are those who are after His heart, whom He has perfected in His work. Those who God has perfected in His work are all after His heart, they are all the crystallization of His 6000-year management plan, specimens and models He has made: It is only these perfected people who are the true witnesses of God. God’s witnesses are those in every place in every nation who bear witness to God’s actions, who bear witness to His almightiness and testify to His righteous disposition, so that the people of every place in every nation will have true knowledge of God, and will then obey and worship Him. These perfected witnesses of God, will be the future priests for every race, in every place in every nation; they are those who know God, and who have been perfected by Him to serve as His priests. Those who serve as God’s priests will be the most honored, the most exalted among mankind. … Is the process of knowing God now clear? What is the first thing we come to know in experiencing God’s work? It is God’s love. We see that all God’s work is to save people, and in order to save mankind God has suffered humiliation and pain in the extreme. He has endured the persecution of all His believers, their condemnation, their judgements, their notions, their aloofness and negativity, yet finally they see His love. They are touched, their tears flow, and they feel how very much in debt they are to Him; they have been too rebellious, too ignorant, and could not see how much He loves them. When people know the love of God, the effect achieved is that they are conquered. Undergoing a further period of experience, when people see the whole of God’s disposition, a disposition with righteousness at its core, a disposition full of righteousness, majesty and wrath, and not the love and mercy which was all that was seen in the Age of Grace, they will feel for themselves the words, “God’s disposition will not allow offense.” Once people have felt for themselves that God’s disposition will not allow offense, they will begin to have a heart within them that fears God. How is a heart that fears God generated? Once people have seen that God’s disposition will not allow offense and has righteousness at its core, and not at all love and mercy at its core, then they will have had a true knowledge of God’s disposition, a rudimentary knowledge of it. Having had knowledge of God’s disposition, people will begin to gradually acquire a completely new knowledge of every aspect of all that God has and is: How God hides Himself in humbleness, the loveliness of God incarnate, the ordinariness and normality of the flesh He is clothed in and how the humanity of that flesh is a normal humanity; toward negative things, for bad and evil people He feels disgust and abhorrence, while He likes good people, those who pursue the truth, and is willing to come into contact with them. As for those whose humanity is flawed, He shows enormous patience, and can tolerate and forgive them; suffering great pain He makes no sound, and bears it alone. People see normal humanity in the incarnate God, they see the likeness of a real human, which differs indeed from that of corrupt humanity; God incarnate, Christ, is indeed the truth, the way and the life. With this knowledge, one will start to have knowledge of God’s essence. God’s essence is the truth and righteousness. All positive things come from God, all truths are uttered by Christ; apart from Christ with His ability to utter the truth, there is no one who can speak a word of truth. Thus, when you have real knowledge of the essence of Christ, you will have known the essence of God. What is the essence of Christ? Christ is the truth, the way and the life. And what is the essence of God? It too is the truth, and righteousness, almightiness and wisdom as well.