Chapter 3. Sermons and Fellowship About God’s Word “Knowing God Is the Path to Fearing God and Shunning Evil” (II)
What True Communion With God Is and the Effects Achieved Through Communing With God
“And this process—of attaining genuine understanding and knowledge of God through appreciating, experiencing, feeling, and corroborating His words—is no other than true communion between man and God.” There is a key aspect of faith in God. Gaining the truth and gaining life from faith in God is an effect achieved by experiencing God’s work. This process of experiencing God’s work is the process of people’s communion with God. People must have knowledge of this true communion. What effects will be achieved through communing with God? Ultimately it will lead to knowing God and being perfected by God. What is true communion with God? Many people say: “Is praying communing with God?” That is only one element. People can only have true communion with God by experiencing God’s work and through experiencing God’s word and submitting to God. If you only pray, can you hear how God answers you? Can you completely understand God’s will? You cannot. Praying is one way to do it. People’s true experience and cooperation are the most crucial here. Do people in religious communities have communion with God despite praying their whole lives? No, they don’t. Praying is one aspect. You cannot simply rely on prayers. You have to rely on practice, experience, and submission. God leads and guides people in many matters, and He also prunes, deals with, disciplines, refines, and perfects people. These are the processes in which people can commune with God. For example, when people receive the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment in the midst of various trials, isn’t that God’s conversation with people? After receiving the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, if people ultimately practice submitting to God and standing firm in their testimony, isn’t that people’s submission to God? Is people’s submission to God not their response and reply to the work of the Holy Spirit? When people see the work of the Holy Spirit, they see God speaking to them, and they see that God’s will is revealed to them and God’s requirements of them. Then, people truly obey and practice God’s word and God’s enlightenment. This process is the process of people’s communion with God. When people commune with God in this way often, they will consciously submit to God, consciously satisfy God, consciously repay God’s love, consciously suffer to gain the truth, and consciously stand firm in their testimony to console God’s heart, which are all the process of their true communion with God. Then in your experience, how many of these conscious submissions, repayments, and acts of satisfying God have you had? Do you have many such experiences? If you have had many such experiences, then you definitely have had knowledge of God. Some people only have several experiences of communing with God in their lifetime, and most of them are the experiences of being disciplined by God. He has had few experiences of being enlightened by God, knowing what God asks him to do, and consciously submitting to and satisfying God. They were just disciplined, stopped, or punished from the negative aspect, and then they remember this: “God even disciplined and punished me!” Then, if they have only such experiences, does this count as true communion? This does not count. This is too one-sided, and they should have some experiences of true submission. For example, if God enlightened and illuminated you on a particular matter, and you understood what to do to satisfy God and what to do to match God’s will, and then you did so at that moment, did you continue to do that after the event? Did you persist in this? If not, then you have only done it that one time. Have people like this had true communion with God? Some people are different. After God enlightened them on one matter, they can abide by this for a lifetime: “On this matter and this kind of matter I will satisfy God in this way. God has disciplined me on one matter, and in my life I will never rebel against God again on this kind of matter.” People like this are people who submit to God. When they have grasped a truth, they can always hold fast to it. This kind of people has paid the price to gain the truth. For some people, however, they think, “You’ve enlightened me this time, so I will practice it this time and submit to You. Next time, I won’t submit to You, because You haven’t enlightened me.” Have people like this gained the truth? God says: “If when I enlighten you one time, you practice it only one time, and you don’t hold fast to it forever, then you do not deserve to gain the truth. Can I keep enlightening you every day? If I have to enlighten you all the time, then aren’t you a wooden doll? I don’t want a wooden doll. I do not want dead people, I want living people. After I enlighten you one time, you have to hold fast to it forever. After I discipline you on one matter, you must never rebel against Me on this matter. I want people like this.” Some people are very passive. “When You push me once, I’ll move once. If You push me twice, I’ll move twice. If You push me thrice, I’ll move three times. But if You don’t push me, I’ll stop.” Are they people who have true communion with God? Some people vow to God on the issue of marriage: “I will never marry, I will dedicate my youth and my life completely to You.” They make such impressive vows, but after a while, they don’t keep their vows. When they see someone of the opposite sex who is quite nice and quite affectionate to them, they become tempted, they change their minds, and they break their vows. What is the problem here? Have people like this had true communion with God? This is problematic. You would be untrustworthy. You are not an honest man, and you will be discredited. When you do not care about maintaining your vows, then God would not force you. But in terms of people’s communion with God, this is not good. You have gone against your word and you are untrustworthy. To have true communion with God, you must be serious and keep to your word. You can have one or two transgressions, but you cannot always disobey God. If you do so, God will eliminate you.
If someone is able to have true communion with God, wouldn’t you say that this is God making an exception and uplifting him? Can normal people have this opportunity? Throughout all of humankind there are not many people who could have this opportunity. So, in the last days, that is, in these twenty or so years, how many among us truly pursue the truth? Only this small minority has this opportunity. Most people are not worthy. Why are they not worthy? They do not love the truth, and they are not willing to suffer for God. They make false promises to God to deal with God momentarily and perfunctorily. They do not care what God does and whether they can be perfected. They do not care about whether they ought to have true communion with God. They are not interested in those things. They say: “Rather than commune with God, I’d rather associate with rich people, then I could get some benefits. I’d rather fawn over officials, so that I could find a good job, and take the back door. That’s practically beneficial. Communing with God is not so interesting. There’s only suffering involved.” With a mindset like this, do they deserve God’s blessing? They do not. Even though Job was tried to those degrees, he still maintained his integrity, fearing God and shunning evil. “At any time, I shall fear God. Fearing God is the greatest motto of my life. God has stripped me of all I own, but I will still hold fast to the way of fearing God and shunning evil. This is my guiding principle, this is my life’s motto, my maxim. Nobody can change this. Even in death I will persevere.” Then in the end when God saw that, He said: “Job truly fears God and shuns evil. He is a blameless person, he truly persevered.” So God revealed Himself to Job and Job received God’s blessing. Now, God communes with people in secret through the work of the Holy Spirit, watching to see who is sincere to God and able to always hold fast to the way of fearing God and shunning evil as Job did, and stand fast in this testimony in every moment. In the end, God will reveal Himself to these people. Why did God always say in the past, “I have never revealed Myself to anybody?” What is the meaning behind these words? If God, through the work of the last days, truly gains a group of people and perfects them to be ones who know God, then God will reveal Himself to these people, so this is the greatest blessing received by those who have been perfected in the end. What is the greatest blessing for creatures of God? That is witnessing God’s appearance after being perfected by God. This blessing is too great. How great this blessing is cannot be properly expressed through words; it is too important! Now if people do not treasure this opportunity and instead treat communing with God as a common matter, then one day they will regret it for the rest of their lives. What does a bit of suffering for God matter? How long can we suffer for? Is it forever? Isn’t it only ten or twenty years? Even if we were to suffer for a whole lifetime, then so what? To suffer for a lifetime to hold fast to this way, wouldn’t you say it is meaningful? We would rather suffer our whole lives. We will hold fast to the way of fearing God and shunning evil and we will pursue the truth as much as possible. Not only will we not take wives (or husbands), we will also endure any cruel torture and any disaster in order to stand witness to satisfy God. As long as we live we will pursue the truth. After we have suffered through all hardships, one day we shall see to what extent we can change. Then, we will have no regrets. If you cannot suffer even a bit of hardship now, then in the future you will suffer great hardships. Even if God does not give you hardships, there is a kind of pain you cannot shake free of. What is it? The pain of regret and remorse. You will never be free of this pain. At that time, what would you regret? “Why didn’t I drop everything to satisfy God, to expend myself for God? Why was I constrained by the flesh and by family so that I wasn’t loyal to God?” Thinking of this you would slap yourself in the face, you would drop to your knees and scrape your forehead until it bleeds, you would regret forever, and your internal organs would even break from regret. Can you be conscious of this? Now there are many people who care for the flesh every day and live within emotions every day. They always consider the benefits of the flesh. That is being short-sighted and ignorant. You do not have God in your heart. If you truly have God in your heart, what is the point of considering these things? Do you truly have great wisdom? Do you truly have great intelligence? Yours is only small wisdom and small intelligence, it is worthless! …
What is the most important thing to pursue in communion with God? Pursuing the truth to acquire knowledge of God, this is the goal. The purpose of communing with God is to know God. When we know God, all problems will be solved. No difficulties will be too great. There is no problem that cannot be solved by pursuing the truth. Some people say: “I don’t believe it, I haven’t even found a partner yet!” If you truly understood the truth, you would not even need a partner. If Satan says, “I will give you the best. Do you want it?” “You can keep the best. I don’t need it. I won’t accept it.” … By pursuing the truth all problems can be resolved. Is this trustworthy? For example, if somebody who is ill and close to death pursued the truth and were no longer under the control of death, if they still worshiped God today and held fast to the way of fearing God and shunning evil though they might die tomorrow, would they still fear death? Could the problem of death be resolved by pursuing the truth? Can the problem of illnesses be resolved? (Yes.) How can it be resolved? Mainly by relying on God. If people could resolve some of it that is fine too, but if they believe that they are in God’s hand regardless of whether they are living or dead, if they still do not lose faith and they are free from the bondage of sickness, is the problem not resolved? They are released. There is no problem that cannot be resolved by pursuing the truth. Now, is this believable? Then those who do not love truth cannot believe this. They hold this notion: “Can people with the truth truly solve the problem of money?” It is not easy to say, right? They haven’t seen clearly. Is the truth not almighty? Having the truth is better than having money. Those with the truth can get things that people cannot buy with money. It does not matter whether we get things that can be bought with money. We can have it or not. We are not constrained. That is not what we want. If we possess it, that is God’s grace. If we do not, that is God’s blessing. But not having the truth is absolutely impossible. Living without the truth is painful, and even if we are alive we would suffer! Gaining the truth can give us the greatest consolation. No matter how much money we spend we cannot buy this consolation. Only by gaining the truth can we get it. Money, no matter how much, cannot buy consolation, happiness, spiritual enjoyment, or resolve spiritual emptiness. Only the truth can resolve these problems. So by gaining the truth you can solve all difficulties and problems. This is believable. So does the current pain of marriage and family count as real pain? If you think that is real pain, then fine! One day if God leaves you and you lose God, then you will see if that pain is greater or this pain is greater. You will know after comparing the two. So one day when, after having enjoyed all the blessings of the flesh, you still feel hollow and dark, at that time you will know what the value of gaining God is and what a great blessing it is to gain God. So, now we can suffer all hardships to gain the truth. What do “all hardships” refer to? The hardships of leaving relatives behind, of being away from family, of not pursuing a partner, and of living in poverty. All these kinds of pain are temporary and can completely be conquered. If you can truly gain the truth, then it does not matter how many years you will suffer these kinds of pain for. Not only can you suffer a few years without reluctance, even a few decades would not be a problem. This suffering does not count as much. Why does it not count as much suffering? Many people in the world suffer these hardships, and they do not feel it is so difficult. Then, ask those nuns if they feel pain. They’ll say: “No, we are very blessed. We know you have the pain of having family and possession.” You have to look at it in this way, then it is not difficult. Can you see through these things clearly? Some people have suffered just a bit, but they complain here every day as if they had paid a great price, as if God should give them great blessings, and as if God owed them many things. People like this are too irrational! What does God owe you? Who is it that owes who? God did not force you. Do you know why you believe in God? If God did not save you, you would have died. You are unsatisfied with just being alive, and you want to find a partner to satisfy your lusts. So what if you do not satisfy those filthy lusts? Could you go insane?
Communing with God is an exceptional uplifting by God; it is the greatest blessing of us corrupt humanity! What right do corrupt humans have to commune with God? We do not have any rights at all, and this is precisely why we should do our utmost to satisfy God. People ought to have this sense. If people do not have this sense, do not have understanding of and submission to God’s will, and do not know to render service to repay God’s kindness unto death, then they are people without dignity or integrity, and they are not good creatures of God. Is communing with God not the most honorable thing? Can we still be constrained from doing it by this or that? Can we go without finding a partner? Can we leave everything behind? Properly submit to the work of the Holy Spirit and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and live by God’s word. Experience God’s word in this way. The more you experience like this, the more God will reveal Himself to you. Through all kinds of people, things, and matters, through pruning and dealing with us, through God’s enlightenment and illumination, through trials and refinements, God is entering into dialogue with us. God speaks to us every day through matters. What are the methods by which God speaks to us? One method is the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit. This is a way God directly communes with and speaks to us. What else? Speaking to or warning us through all sorts of people, things, and events, using various circumstances to guide us and speak to us, and speaking to us with facts through various trials and refinements. If you are truly a living being possessed of a spirit, you ought to be able to comprehend and understand this. If we experience God’s work in this way, is this true communion with God? Although we cannot see it with our eyes, we can completely sense it with our heart and our spirit. Then how many kinds of feelings do you have in regard to the actions of God? When we are concerned with God’s will and practice the truth, we are peaceful and happy and especially consoled inside. Isn’t this the Holy Spirit giving us a feeling and a sign? When you have this kind of feeling, what does it represent? “As soon as I practice the truth and submit to God, as soon as I perform a small action with the intention of satisfying God, then I feel so consoled, so satisfied, so happy and released inside! Oh! God is telling me His will: ‘I am satisfied when you do things in this way, so I give you this feeling inside your spirit.’” When you practice things in this way, does God reply? He does. Do you feel it? When you have this feeling, then wouldn’t you say that God has revealed His will about what kind of person God likes and what God likes people to do? Then don’t you have a bit of knowledge of God? One time, you rebelled against God as your heart was hardened and you simply satisfied your flesh. After the act, you felt dark, depressed, and awful inside. You had an indescribable pain, you did not have any peace, and you could not touch God. Isn’t this feeling a feeling that God gave you? What does this feeling signify to you? God detests our rebellion, hates our rebellion. God is not happy when we act in this way. He is angry toward us, He has become distant from us. Through this feeling, God signifies to us and reveals His will, His disposition. Have we come to know this? This is what we have come to know about God—the effect achieved through our communion with God. Have you experienced many events like this? If you have, then you ought to be completely clear about your knowledge of God. If you ignore it one time or two times, then can you still be uncertain about it after eight or ten times? God hates people’s rebellion. When we willfully rebel against God, when we care about the flesh and satisfy ourselves, then God hides His face and becomes distant from us. At that time, our spirits feel darkness, depression, and pain. We are unable to touch God and are without happiness or enjoyment. What does God do to us here? The work of revealing His disposition. What does He tell us? “You’ve rebelled against God. I dislike you. I hide My face from you, I am distant from you, and I ignore you.” This is what it means.
If one day when you feel you owe God and that God is too good, you promise to God to offer yourself to Him, then what will you feel at that moment? You will feel released and happiness that you have never felt before. What is God telling us using this feeling? What has He revealed to us? God likes people who dedicate and commit themselves to God. God blesses people like this. In giving you this happiness, enjoyment, and release, God’s purpose is to bolster your faith to follow God and expend yourself for God. Isn’t this God’s reply? What do we see about God from this matter? When we completely dedicate ourselves to God to repay God’s love, God’s heart is so happy and consoled that He gives us such a feeling so we can be released, free, and full of faith. Then, when we commune with God in this way, God often gives us many replies. Each kind of reply is not just given once or a few times, nor ten or twenty times. Throughout the experience of our life, we feel each kind of reply very often. In this way, we can come to know much of God’s disposition, God’s lovable attributes, and God’s love. We could say we can understand these things completely. What is the effect of our understanding? We will not do what God hates and detests. We have suffered enough setbacks, and we have understood God’s will. If we did that again, God would be too sad. We will never again rebel against God. We know what we could do to make God the happiest, make His heart the gladdest, most consoled. We will do more of such things. We also know that dedicating ourselves to God is the beginning of being gained by God. God’s heart is most satisfied with it. Once we have truly dedicated ourselves to God, we will expend ourselves for God throughout our lives, and God will guide our whole life and be responsible for everything about us. He will see us as people belonging to Him. Then, our hearts would definitely be the most released and free, and God’s heart would be the most consoled. God hopes that we would not only verbally promise to dedicate ourselves to God, but more importantly, we would be practically gained by Him. When we have been practically gained by God, when our hearts no longer belong to ourselves, and when we completely expend ourselves for God and are loyal to God, then from that moment God will be forever with us. Our hearts will always be happy, released, free, and most gratified, as if we are living before God every day, and one day God will reveal Himself to us. When we have communed with God to a certain stage, and in the end God has gained our entire being, at that time, we would never again do things that rebel against God, we would never resist God, we would never research God, we would absolutely have no notions about God, and we would have only praise, only submission, and only loyalty to God, and be able to truly worship God every day. Then, our communion with God will be successful. We will have reached the stage where we have been perfected by God. At that point, God will reveal Himself to us. What will we see at the end of the communion? God’s appearance and God’s blessings.
Job feared God and shunned evil for his whole life. In the end, he saw God’s appearance. If people have truly held fast to the way of fearing God and shunning evil until the end, that is, if they have got to know God, they will then have the right to see God’s appearance and the right to receive God’s blessings. The final effect of communing with God is seeing the appearance of God. If people do not commune with God, can they see God’s appearance? They do not even have the right. So now we have this right. Do people in religious communities have this right? (No.) They are still waiting for the Lord to descend on a white cloud to take them up! Isn’t that being silly? Aren’t they pitiful? Then what are we doing here? We are here enjoying a place that God has prepared for us. We are pursuing the truth and living in communion with God, waiting for God’s appearance. We commune with God in an environment that He has specially arranged for His work, and enjoy His work face to face with Him. God also uses various people, things, and events and various situations to communicate with us, make revelations to us, speak to us, guide us, and perfect us. Although we cannot hear His voice or see Him, we are absolutely clear about this in our hearts. What is God doing? God is beside us watching us every day, guiding us every day, and using various people, things, and events within our circumstances to guide us, to perfect us, to try us, and to refine us every day. When we have been made complete, then we will know God face to face. After we know God, we will one day see God’s appearance. This is the path we ought to walk on now.
“In the midst of this kind of communion, man comes truly to understand and comprehend God’s intentions, comes truly to understand and know God’s possessions and being, comes truly to understand and know God’s essence, comes gradually to understand and know God’s disposition, arrives at real certainty about, and a correct definition of, the fact of God’s dominion over all creation, and gains a substantive bearing on and knowledge of God’s identity and position.” If people can achieve these effects by communing with God in this way, this is truly knowing God. These are the effects that must be achieved in experiencing God’s work. What are these effects? The first is: “Man comes truly to understand and comprehend God’s intentions.” The second is: “Man … comes truly to understand and know God’s possessions and being.” The third is: “Man … comes truly to understand and know God’s essence.” The fourth is: “Man … comes gradually to understand and know God’s disposition.” The fifth is: “Man … arrives at real certainty about, and a correct definition of, the fact of God’s dominion over all creation.” The sixth is: “Man … gains a substantive bearing on and knowledge of God’s identity and position.” Knowledge of these six aspects is the six standards for and six effects in knowing God. If in people’s communion with God they could achieve these six effects, then they are somebody who knows God. Knowing God includes knowledge of these six aspects. How you should commune with God, how to pursue the truth in order to achieve these six effects in experiencing God’s work, you ought to have a good idea in your heart, you ought to be clear. If people are always muddle-headed in experiencing God’s work, if they never put effort into the truth and into knowing God or devote their heart to knowing God, then it is not easy for them to achieve these six effects. There are mainly these six effects in knowing God. They are especially important. Once you have knowledge of all these six aspects, once you have an essential bearing on and knowledge of them, then your knowledge of God will have reached the standard. At least, in you these kinds of effects can happen: “In the midst of this kind of communion, man changes, step by step, his ideas about God, no longer imagining Him out of thin air, or giving rein to his own suspicions about Him, or misunderstanding Him, or condemning Him, or passing judgment on Him, or doubting Him.” In this way, these transgressions of resisting God that you often committed in the past will have all been resolved. How will these problems have been resolved? Through you understanding the truth and having true knowledge of God, these problems will have all been resolved. If you do not pursue the truth and cannot get to know God, these problems will always exist, and you would be like those people of religious communities, who, when God has come to do the work of the last days, jump out to resist God and are revealed to be God’s enemies. Let us read God’s words below: “In consequence, man will have fewer debates with God, he will have fewer conflicts with God, and there will be fewer occasions on which he rebels against God.” Then, measure yourself. Do you have fewer and fewer debates with God? (Yes.) To what degree? Do you still debate with God? (Yes.) It is not good if you continue to do so. That is only having some improvement, but not fundamentally solving the problem. People have fewer and fewer debates with God, have fewer and fewer conflicts with God, and have less and less rebellion against God. Once these three effects have been achieved, people will be comparatively safer. What is the most painful thing for people to do in their belief of God? Things that resist God. Some people do not feel pain when they resist God. That is because they do not have humanity. They do not love the truth. In the end, because they have committed many evil deeds, God’s chosen people will reject them from the church, and they will feel pain: “I am doomed, I have no more hope of attaining salvation.” So some people commit all kinds of evil deeds, and it is not until they are expelled from the church that there is a turn in their belief in God, and they know that rebellion against God will not bring good results and that whoever resists God will come to no good end. Is it of any use, realizing this then? No, it is too late. Now, for we people who pursue the truth, if because of our deepening knowledge of God we rebel against God less and less, argue with God less and less, and have fewer and fewer conflicts with God, do we not feel much more relaxed and happy in our hearts? We feel released and free in our hearts, we feel: “I have finally achieved some effects in believing in God. Now I can basically submit to God, I can even suffer for God! Now I am not far from salvation. This time, perhaps I won’t resist God again.” Ah! You feel much less painful, you feel a bit happy and consoled. Some people experienced being arrested and tortured by the great red dragon, but managed to stand firm in their testimony by relying on God. They feel even more consoled inside: “I will be fine even if I encounter other trials. For I have experienced this. I have knowledge of God and revere God, and in normal circumstances I will not sin against God, much less resist God. So, I feel that I am very close toward attaining salvation in my belief of God. Attaining salvation is entirely within reach. It is too practical. Now, I have hope.” Isn’t this the greatest consolation in the depths of their hearts? This consolation is no small matter!