Chapter 51. Do You Know What Truth Really Is?
You have all often experienced the situation of being at a gathering, and feeling like you have nothing to preach about—finally you bite the bullet and say something superficial. You know perfectly well that these superficial words are doctrines, but you preach about them anyway, and in the end you feel you have no enthusiasm, and the people below you listen and feel it is too dull—hasn’t that happened? If you have to force yourself to preach, then on the one hand the Holy Spirit will not work, and on the other hand, there is no benefit to the people. 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. If you encounter a situation where you want to preach but feel you cannot preach about things thoroughly, where you only have some doctrinal knowledge but know nothing about the things of substance, and if you are not able to answer questions of substance that others pose, then it is best not to preach at all. There are also times when you will start to discuss a topic at a gathering, and feel that you are fairly knowledgeable about it, and can fellowship about some real things. But once you have discussed it to a shallow level everyone understands it, and you don’t have anything you can preach at a deeper level. What others don’t know, you may not know either. So don’t force yourself to preach; you can instead get everyone to fellowship about the topic. If you think that it is the doctrine, then it is useless to preach about it, and it will not provide edification for others; in this situation, no matter what you say, the Holy Spirit will not do His work, and when you just bite the bullet and preach you may say absurd and deviant things, and can lead people astray. You see that those below cannot completely receive relatively in-depth things in a short period of time, and cannot easily remember them; most people have a poor foundation and are of low caliber, yet they are still quick to accept those erroneous, regulatory doctrines—this is truly strange! You must pay special attention to this aspect. People are vain, and sometimes dominated by their vanity, they know perfectly well that they are preaching doctrine, and are clear about it, yet still think,[a] “These people below may not notice it, but for the sake of saving face I will not pay attention to that; it’s important to rise to the occasion!” Then isn’t that just fooling people? This is also being disloyal to God! If you are a person who understands the truth, then you will reproach yourself. You cannot preach that way anymore, and the topic should be changed. You can fellowship about something you have experience with, or you can also talk about some knowledge you have about the truth; if you cannot preach clearly about something, you can fellowship instead! It’s never good to always have just one person preaching. Because you lack experience, no matter how well you are able to imagine and conceive of something, what you talk about after all is just doctrine, and it is also something found within human conceptions. Those things which belong to the truth must be experienced; without experience no one can completely understand the substance of the truth, much less can they explain clearly the conditions of experiencing a truth; one must have experience with truth so as to have something to preach about it. Having no experience is not acceptable; even if you have experience it will be within a limited range, and you can speak on some limited conditions, but cannot say more. If a gathering always revolves around a topic, or two topics, then after fellowshiping repeatedly around these topics, there will be some people who come to understand a little. Or perhaps when you begin to preach, you think that you are preaching in a very practical way, but the people below still don’t really understand, because your condition is your condition, and the conditions of the people below are not exactly the same as your own. Moreover, you are experiencing this currently, but the people below are not experiencing those same things at the time, so they think what you are preaching about is not fitting for them. What should you do in that situation? You should then ask them some questions to understand their situations. Ask them what they would do when faced with this situation. How should one practice in line with the truth? By fellowshiping a bit in this way a path will be opened, and people can be led to the topic, and by fellowshiping further you will achieve results. Although everyone is reading books, some will grasp the meaning of truth, some will become full of doctrines, and others full of absurdity, so the results will be different. Those who have some experience can speak on some practical things, can talk about some practical understanding of the truth, and this truth is the truth from their perspective. But when those without experience read the words of the truth, they will receive some literal meanings, and will be able to explain some things regarding the superficial meaning of truth, but their explanations do not count as an understanding of truth. There may be some people below at a gathering, asking, “What are they doing?” Someone will answer, “They are supplying the truth.” This cannot be said. “They are especially doing pastoral work and supplying the truth.” That cannot be said either. It can only be said that they are doing pastoral work in the church, and doing watering work; it cannot be said that they are supplying the truth. You cannot say that those of you of small stature are supplying truth to others; you absolutely cannot say that. How many people have the truth? With man’s small stature can they be said to be supplying the truth? Even if someone has some experience and some understanding of the truth, they cannot say that they are able to provide the truth; they absolutely cannot say that. To say that is so misguided! Those who do pastoral work, who do direct watering work, and who are especially responsible for the work of life entry in the church do not understand the truth yet are attempting to supply it to others. Isn’t this a contradiction? Someone may ask you, “What is truth?” And you may say,[b] “Truth is the word of God!” This is something that you cannot yet speak clearly about. If you still cannot speak clearly about the things right before your eyes, then you are not qualified to supply others. Right now those who are acting as leaders do not have real life experience; at best, they have some caliber, and a better ability to receive knowledge from books, and they can discuss some understanding, acting in a go-between role for others, but you can never say that they are supplying the truth. Some people have good brains, and after reading and listening more they can gain some understanding, and although they can fellowship this little bit of knowledge with the people below, this cannot be called supplying truth; this can only be called fellowshiping some understanding. Neither can supplying something to others be said to be fellowshiping the truth. What kind of figure can supply the truth? It can only be said that they are doing pastoral work in the church and visiting church. “Visiting church” has substance to it; that is, brothers and sisters encounter some difficulties, and someone has some ability to receive. By means of this difficulty, they carry a burden, try to figure it out, and they gain some enlightenment from doing so to help others. Can helping others be considered as understanding the truth? Will they understand the truth better, or have more truth than others? You cannot say that, as this is not the case. To allow some people to do pastoral work in the church is purely to cultivate them; since they have some caliber, they have some ability to receive, and also their family situation is suitable, then they are allowed to practice. Promoting someone does not mean that they can supply the truth, it’s just that when people carry a burden then they really experience the work of the Holy Spirit, can preach about some light and enlightenment, and can receive enlightenment and light before others, but this light does not represent the truth. You see, some of the booklets issued contain fellowship, and some contain certain truth questions and answers (asking questions and providing answers[c] on the foundation of truth is called “truth questions and answers”), as well as some fellowship, and in this case, you cannot say, “We are taking out the truth to read it.” You have to understand the actual scope of the truth and you must also understand what does not pertain to truth. If some people gain some insights and have some understanding based on their experiences from the words of truth, does this count as the truth? At best we can say that they have some understanding of the truth. All the words of enlightenment of the Holy Spirit do not represent God’s word, do not represent truth, and they do not pertain to the truth. It can only be said that those people have some understanding of truth, and some enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. If you gain some understanding from truth and then supply it to others, that is, supply your personal understanding and experience, you still cannot say: “Come, I will supply you with the truth.” Referring to it as fellowshiping is fine, and your wording must be appropriate. Why do we say that? There’s more to it than that. You should see this situation clearly, and not just word it in a certain way and be done with it; this is not a wording. People obtain things that they should possess from the truth, but that is not to say that they have the truth, that they are of the truth; we absolutely cannot say that. No matter how much you obtain from the truth, you cannot say you have the life, nor can you say that you are of the truth; you absolutely cannot say that. You have only obtained some sustenance from the truth, nourishing your life, making you have some things within you that you should have to believe in God, and to satisfy God. God supplies people through the truth, allowing people to satisfy God and conform to God’s will through the truth, and in the end even if people completely fulfill God’s will, it still cannot be said that they are of the truth, much less can it be said that they have truth as their life. If we could say that, if man has experience with all the truth that God expresses, has understanding of it, and understands clearly each truth, then they should be able to express the truth, then wouldn’t man become Christ? This becomes God-man doctrine, and is a big, big mistake! In short, people have to understand something: No matter how well you understand the truth, no matter your experience, no matter how fully obedient you are toward God’s orchestration, no matter how high or deep your life entry is, your life is still the life of man, and man can never become God; this is absolute, and people must understand it. Even if you finally thoroughly grasp all the truth, and can submit to God’s orchestration, and have become a perfected person, you still cannot say you are of the truth, and much less can you say that you can express the truth; everything said previously about man having the life of Christ within them is also mistaken, and is just something once spoken. Right now even though people are not saying this, they may have a hazy and unclear understanding within them, and some people may think: “We have obtained the truth, the truth is now within us, so we possess the truth, the truth is within our hearts, and we can also express it.” Isn’t this mistaken too? To say whether a person has truth is to say whether they have experience with this truth, whether they have understanding of it, and whether they can practice it. You can understand it when said that way. Everyone can experience the truth, but the situations of their experience will be different, and what each person obtains from the same truth is different. But even after combining everyone’s understanding you still cannot completely explain this one truth; the truth is that deep! Why do I say that all of the things you have obtained and all of your understanding, cannot be a substitute for the truth? If you fellowship your understanding with others, they may ponder on it for two or three days and then they will finish experiencing it, but a person cannot fully experience truth even in a lifetime, even all people together cannot experience it thoroughly. Thus it can be seen that the truth is very profound, there is no way to use words to fully articulate the truth, the truth put into human language is man’s aphorism; humanity will never experience it fully, and humanity should live in reliance on it. A piece of truth can let all of humanity survive for thousands of years. Truth is the life of God Himself, representing His own disposition, representing His own substance, representing everything within Him. If you say that to have some experiences means that you have the truth, then can you represent the disposition of God? You cannot. A person may have some experience or light regarding a certain aspect or side of a truth, but they cannot supply others with it forever, so their light is not truth, it’s just a degree to which a person has reached, the experience—the proper experience—a person should have, the proper understanding, which is the aspect of the real experience of truth. This light, enlightenment and understanding based on experience can never be a substitute for truth; even if all people have completely experienced one sentence of truth, and they combine all those words together, that is still no substitute for that one truth. As has been said in the past, “I summed up another adage: Among men there is no one who loves Me.” This is a statement of truth, it is the true essence of life, it is the most profound thing, it is God’s own expression; this is a statement of truth, you can experience it. If you experience it for three years you will have a shallow understanding, if you experience it for eight years you will gain more understanding, but your understanding will never substitute for that statement of truth! If someone else experiences it for two years they will have a little understanding; if they experience it for ten years they will have a higher understanding, and if they experience it for a lifetime they will gain a bit more understanding, but if you put both of your understandings together, they will still not be a substitute for that statement of truth. No matter how much understanding, how much experience, how many insights, how much light, or how many examples you both combine together, all of that cannot substitute for that statement. What do I mean by this? Just that the life of man will always be the life of man, and no matter how much your understanding is in accordance with the truth, in accordance with the meaning of God, in accordance with the requirements of God, it will never be able to be a substitute for the truth. To say that people have truth means that they have some reality, that they have some understanding of God’s truth, that they have some real entry into God’s words, that they have some real experience with God’s words, and that they are on the right track in their faith in God. Only one statement of God is enough for a person to experience for a lifetime, to experience over several lifetimes, or for several thousand years; people cannot wholly and thoroughly experience a truth. If you have just understood some superficial words and then say that you have the truth, is that not groundless? Some statements are not just wrong, but the main point is that people do not have the correct understanding. Sometimes people think that they have the truth, and that it is a wonderful thing! When they get a little light, sometimes their conditions improve and they can fellowship something enlightening, they become self-satisfied, develop hearty appetites for food and drink, and are successful in all things; in this way they think they have the truth. Do they have truth? Can people who have the truth fall down anytime and anywhere? When people have truth, how can they still defy God and betray God? If you claim that you have truth, and that proves that within you is the life of Christ, then that is terrible! Then you have become the Lord. This is an absurd statement, and is entirely inferred by people; it pertains to human conceptions and imagination, and is not a tenable position with God.
When people understand truth, and live with the truth as life, what life does this refer to? It’s the life where people live in reliance on the word of God. When people have that life inside them, then their life is lived based on truth, their life is lived within the realm of truth, their life is full of understanding of truth, and the experience of truth, being on this basis and not going outside of that scope—that is the life that is referred to. People rely on the truth as their life, and live their life by the truth. It is not that when people rely on the truth as their life they then have a life of the truth; it is not to say either that if you have the truth as life you become the truth, and your life within becomes a life of the truth. In the end your life is still the life of man. You can live in reliance on the words of God, have some understanding of truth, and understand to an in-depth degree, and this understanding cannot be taken away from you; you experience and understand fully, you feel that these things are good, are so precious, and you come to accept them as the basis for your life, and you live in reliance on these things, then no one can change that, this is your life. Your life only contains these things, only contains understanding, experience, and insights of the truth; no matter what you do you will be living in reliance on these things, and no matter what you do you will not go beyond this scope, will not go beyond these borders; that will be your life, and the final objective of the work of God is that people will have this kind of life. If God Himself personally perfected a group of big Gods and small Gods, wouldn’t that be chaotic? Anyway, that is something impossible, it is something absurd, and it is an absurd concept from humans. God can only create people and create other things, God cannot create God; God can only incarnate as an image of flesh, but it doesn’t mean that He created God. God did not create Himself, He has His own substance, which will never change.
If you have some experience with God’s words, and you are living in reliance on your understanding of the truth, then the word of God becomes your life. You cannot say that truth is your life, that what you are expressing is truth; if you think that way, then you are wrong. If you have some experience with an aspect of truth, can this represent the truth? It absolutely cannot represent the truth. So can you speak the truth thoroughly? Much less can you speak it thoroughly. Can you discover and see the disposition of God from the truth? You cannot see it. Can you discover the substance of God? You cannot discover it. Everyone’s experience of truth is just one aspect of it, one part, one scope; experiencing it within your own limited scope you cannot touch upon all of truth. The intention of expressing the truth—that source—reveals the common nature of humanity. What proportion does your little bit of experience amount to? A grain of sand on a beach, a drop of water in the ocean. Therefore, even if you feel the understanding you have obtained from experience is precious, or even feel that it is extremely, extremely precious—that cannot be counted as truth. The source of truth, and the meaning of truth, covers a very broad area! Nothing can contradict it. Some people also say, “Will my experience never be contradicted?” Of course, how can the real condition you have obtained from your experience of the truth be contradicted? The truth can be your life in any environment, it can give you a path, and it can allow you to survive. The things that people have, the light of people, are only suitable for themselves or for some others within a certain scope, but will not be suitable within a different scope. A person’s experience is so limited no matter how profound it is, and their experience will never reach the scope of the truth. A person’s light, a person’s understanding, can never be compared to the truth.
When people have some experience with the truth, understand some of God’s intentions, and have some understanding of God, when people undergo some transformations, and when they are relatively holy and pure, it can still only be said that they are people, that they are exactly the normal people that God wants to obtain. What kind of person are you? Some people say, “I am a person that has the truth.” It is not appropriate to say that. You can only say: “I am a person who has been corrupted by Satan, then has experienced God’s chastisement, judgment, and salvation, and finally has come to have some experience and understanding of the truth and of God’s words; I am only a person who has been saved by God.” If you say: “I am a person who has the truth. I have experienced all of the word of God, and understand it all. The meaning of each word of God, in what context, and in what situation it was spoken, I know it all. Doesn’t this mean having the truth?” then you will be wrong again. You may have some experience with God’s words, and obtain some light from them, but you cannot say you are a person who has the truth. Those who only understand some doctrine, and can preach some doctrine can say that even less. When people come before God, and come before the truth, in what position should they stand? What are people, after all? What exactly is the life that people have within them? What is the life of God? People need to understand this thoroughly. People also need to understand their structure and substance. Some people think they have the truth after experiencing a few days of God’s work, and these are most arrogant people, these are people without any reason. Everyone should dissect this type of issue, so that they can understand themselves, understand humanity, what man really is and, after being perfected, to what degree they can reach, what statements, what titles, what names are suitable—people should know these things and not always indulge in fantasy. Being a person, it is best to err on the side of reality, as this is more grounded. Some people who believe in God are always chasing their own dreams, they always want to reach the life of God, to have the life of God; isn’t this a dangerous thing? This is a very dangerous thing. After working for a while they will say: “When the great red dragon falls from power we should wield power as kings, and rule over many cities!” Expressing these things is terrible. Those without experience are apt to talk about doctrine and indulge in fantasy, yet they think themselves very smart, and think that they already have what they want by their belief in God; they are the disciples of Paul, and the path they walk is entirely Paul’s path; these people will all become antichrists and will suffer severe punishment.
a. The original text omits “yet still think.”
b. The original text omits “And you may say.”
c. The original text omits “and providing answers.”