122. The Principles of Discerning Letters and Doctrines
1. Letters and doctrines all arise from people’s analysis and explanations of God’s words. They are not true experience and knowledge, and they represent man’s conceptions and imaginings;
2. Doctrines arise from the minds and thinking of man. They are not the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and are not true experience, and they can’t stir people’s hearts or benefit them;
3. Letters and doctrines are all rules and external ways of doing things. They have no principles of practice and no path, and they restrain people from attaining deliverance;
4. Preaching letters and doctrines is not bearing witness for God, but rather it is showing off oneself. It makes people admire caliber and gifts, and they have absolutely no knowledge of God.
Relevant Words of God:
Some people work and preach sermons and, although on the surface it looks as though they are fellowshiping about God’s word, all they are saying is the literal meaning of God’s word, with the essence of the word left totally unspoken. Their sermons are like teaching from a language textbook, arranged item by item, aspect by aspect, and when they are done everyone sings their praises, saying: “Oh, this preacher is so practical. They preached so well and in such detail.” After they are done preaching, they tell others to put together what has been preached and to hand it out to everybody. By doing this, they deceive others and all that they preach are fallacies. On the surface, it looks as though they are preaching only God’s word and that their words conform to the truth. But if you discern more carefully, you will see that all they say are the words of doctrine and are just false reasoning. Their words also contain some imaginings, conceptions and there are some words that delineate God. Does not preaching in this way interrupt God’s work? It is a way of serving that defies God.
from “Only by Seeking the Truth Can You Obtain Changes in Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Coming to a real understanding of the actual meaning of God’s word is no simple matter. Don’t just think that you can interpret the literal meaning of all God’s words, and everyone says your interpretation is good and gives you a thumbs-up, so it means you understand God’s word. That is not the same as understanding God’s word. If you have obtained some light from within God’s word and you have figured out the real meaning of God’s word, if you can say what the significance of God’s word is and what ultimate effect it brings, only when this is all clear is there some level of understanding of God’s word. So, 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.
from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Being able to blatantly explain God’s words does not mean that you are in possession of reality—things are not as simple as you may have imagined. Whether you are in possession of reality or not is not based on what you say, rather, it is based on what you live out. When God’s words become your life and your natural expression, only this counts as reality, and only this counts as you possessing understanding and real stature. You must be able to withstand examination for a long period of time, and you must be able to live out the likeness that is required of you by God; it must not be mere posturing, but it must flow naturally out of you. Only then will you truly have reality, and only then will you have gained life.
from “Only Putting the Truth Into Practice Is Having Reality” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If you have not experienced the truth but you still want to preach about it then, no matter what you say, you will not preach clearly—you will just be preaching superficial things. You may think that the words you are speaking are enlightened, but they are just doctrines, they are not reality, and the people listening will not be able to get to grips with real things; they may be feeling that what you say is right when listening to it, but afterward it will be completely forgotten. If what you are preaching about is not the real condition, you will not be able to touch the hearts of people; they will forget it even if they want to remember, and you will not be able to help them….
from “Do You Know What Truth Really Is?” in Records of Christ’s Talks
After you have had the experience, you can then talk about the knowledge you should have about the things you have experienced. In addition, you can also distinguish between those whose knowledge is real and practical and those whose knowledge is based on doctrine and is worthless. So, whether the knowledge that you are talking accords with the truth largely depends on whether you have practical experience. Where there is the truth in your experience, your knowledge will be practical and valuable. Through your experience, you can also gain discernment and insight, deepen your knowledge, and increase your wisdom and common sense in conducting yourself. The knowledge spoken by people who do not possess the truth is doctrine, no matter how high. This type of person may well be very intelligent when it comes to matters of the flesh but cannot make distinctions when it comes to spiritual matters. This is because such people have no experience at all in spiritual affairs. These are people who are not enlightened in spiritual affairs and do not understand the spirit. Regardless of which aspect of knowledge you talk about, as long as it is your being, then it is your personal experience, your real knowledge. What those who speak only doctrine, that is, those who do not possess the truth or reality, talk about can also be said to be their being, because their doctrine is only arrived at from deep contemplation and is the result of their mind pondering deeply, but it is only doctrine, it is nothing more than imagination!
from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Why is it that most people have spent much effort reading God’s words but only have knowledge and cannot say anything about a real path afterward? Do you think that having knowledge amounts to having the truth? Isn’t that a confused point of view? You are able to speak as much knowledge as there is sand on a beach, yet none of it contains any real path. In this, are you not fooling people? Are you not all hat and no cattle? Acting in this way is harmful to people! The higher the theory, the more it is devoid of reality, and the more it is incapable of taking people into reality; the higher the theory, the more it makes you defy and oppose God. Do not treat the most lofty theories like precious treasure; they are pernicious, and serve no use! Maybe some people are able to talk of the most lofty theories—but such theories contain nothing of reality, for these people have not personally experienced them, and thus they have no path to practice. Such people are incapable of taking man onto the right track, and will only lead people astray. Is this not harmful to people? At the very least, you must be able to solve the present troubles and allow people to achieve entry; only this counts as devotion, and only then will you be qualified to work for God. Do not always speak grandiose, fanciful words, and do not bind people and make them obey you with your many unsuitable practices. Doing so will have no effect, and can only increase people’s confusion. Leading people this way will produce many pieces of regulation, which will make people loathe you. This is man’s shortcoming, and it is really insufferable.
from “Focus More on Reality” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
You think that mastering knowledge of the truth is particularly important, and so is learning by heart many passages of God’s words. But how people understand the word of God is not important at all. You think it is extremely important for people to be able to memorize many of God’s words, to be able to speak much doctrine and to discover many formulas within God’s words. Therefore, you always want to systematize these things so that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and saying the same things, so that everyone speaks the same doctrines, has the same knowledge and keeps the same rules—this is your objective. You do this as though to make people understand better, when on the contrary you have no idea that by doing this you are bringing people into the midst of rules that are outside of the truth of God’s words. To make people have a real understanding, you must join with reality, join with the work, and bring people before God. Only in this way can people master the truth. If your efforts are only directed toward applying formulas and rules to written words, then you will not be able to reach an understanding of the truth, will not be able to lead others into reality, and will much less be able to allow others to experience more change or understand more of themselves.
from “Without the Truth It Is Easy to Offend God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
If you are leading a church, when you point out the state of brothers and sisters in the church, you may say: “Nowhere is more backward than here; you people are disobedient!” As for in what regard they’re disobedient and backward, you must speak of their manifestations—of their disobedient state and disobedient behavior—and make them utterly convinced. You must talk of facts and give examples to explain the issue, and you must also be able to speak of how to actually separate oneself from this rebellious behavior, and must point out the path to practice. Only then will you win them over! If you only say, “I don’t wish to visit this place; none are more backward than you, you’re too rebellious,” then, when you speak in this way, after listening none of them will have a path—and so how will you lead people? You must speak of their actual state and actual manifestations; only then will you have a path to practice, and only then will you have reality.
from “Practice (7)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Your knowledge can only provide for people for a while. As time goes on, if you keep saying the same thing, some people will be able to tell; they’ll say you’re too superficial, too lacking in depth. You’ll have no option but to try and deceive people by speaking doctrines. If you always carry on like this, those below you will follow your methods, steps, and model for believing in God and experiencing, and they’ll put those words and doctrines into practice, and ultimately, as you talk in this way, they’ll use you as an exemplar. You lead people to speak doctrines, and those below you will learn doctrines from you, and as things progress you will have taken the wrong way. Those below you all follow you, so you feel: “I am powerful now; so many people listen to me, and the world is at my beck and call.” This betrayal within man unconsciously makes you turn God into a mere figurehead, and you yourself then form some denomination, some sect. How do denominations and sects arise? They arise in this way. Look at the leaders of every denomination and sect. They are all arrogant and self-right, and they interpret the Bible out of context and according to their own imagination. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they were incapable of preaching anything, would those people follow them? They do, after all, possess some learning, and can speak a little of doctrine, or know how to win over others and how to use some artifices, through which they have brought people before themselves and have deceived them. Nominally, those people believe in God—but in reality they follow their leaders. If they encounter those who preach the true way, some of them would say, “We have to consult him about our belief in God.” See how they require someone’s consent to believe in God; is that not a problem? What have those leaders become, then? Have they not become Pharisees, false shepherds, antichrists, and stumbling blocks to people’s acceptance of the true way? This kind of people belong to the same kind as Paul. Why say this? The epistles written by Paul are almost two thousand years old and they pervaded the entire Age of Grace. People all ate and drank these words of his and took his words as the norm, such as suffering, disciplining one’s own body, and receiving the final crown of righteousness…. People believed in God in accordance with his words and his doctrines. How much of God’s will could people understand during the Age of Grace? After all, those who followed Jesus at that time were in the minority, and those who knew Him were even fewer—even several of His disciples did not really know Him. One cannot say that a little light man sees within the pages of the Bible represents God’s will. Much less can it be said that a little enlightenment means an understanding of God.
from “Only the Pursuit of the Truth Is the True Belief in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Being able to speak of knowledge of God’s words doesn’t amount to your genuine stature. It only goes to show you were born smart and gifted. It’s still futile if you cannot point out the way, and you are just useless trash! Are you not pretending if you can’t say anything about an actual path to practice? Aren’t you faking it if you cannot offer your own actual experiences to others, thereby giving them lessons they can learn from or a path to practice? Aren’t you just a counterfeit? What value do you have? Such a person could only play the part of “inventor of the theory of socialism,” not “contributor to bringing about socialism.” To be without reality is to have no truth. To be without reality is to be good for nothing. To be without reality is to be the walking dead. To be without reality is to be a “Marxist-Leninist thinker,” without value as a reference.
from “Focus More on Reality” in The Word Appears in the Flesh