The unbelievers said: “The Old Man in the Sky truly exists! I acknowledge Him.” “Have you seen Him?” “I have not seen Him, but I have seen Him bring rain. When we need rain, it rains. When we need wind, the wind blows. When we need sunlight He gives us sunlight, or when we need clouds it is cloudy. When we need warmth the days are warm, and cold when we need cold. He is all together real and true! That is how real and true He is. People can’t see His true appearance, but in every way He gives people that sense that He is real, real in every way, nothing less.” So the unbelievers came to the conclusion that “Those who obey Heaven will prosper, while those who defy it will perish”; “Man proposes, but God disposes.” In our time we believe in the practical God, with the result that our understanding is deeper and more realistic than the unbelievers’ understanding of the Old Man in the Sky. The unbelievers said that they enjoyed the wind and rain, the thunder and lightning, and the sunshine and the dew that the Old Man in the Sky provided. So what is it that we enjoy from God? It is the provision and the watering of all the truth. God gives us all the truths that we need, and that is more practical! So our chance to experience the work of God is the greatest blessing that God has given humanity, the greatest blessing of God to humanity since the creation of the world, enjoyed by us, and gained by us. Do you see clearly now just what can result from searching for truth and gaining truth? Tell me, should we stick to searching for truth in everything we encounter? If we search for truth in everything, mistakes are fewer; if we search for truth in everything, there are fewer detours; if we search for truth in everything, we are able to gain God’s blessing; and if we search for truth in everything, we are able to gain more truth, understand more truth, and enter more truth. Searching for truth in all things ultimately guarantees gaining God’s perfection and receiving God’s promise, and that is fact!
Questions and Answers
Question (1): I heard in the past the statement, “Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth.” Is that correct? Brother, please fellowship about this.
Answer: The statement “Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth” is indeed correct, but can we say it is truth? No, we cannot! For only God’s words are truth. Yet for unbelievers to be able to say that when they did not understand truth is something we should consider quite realistic, really remarkable! Why? Humans cannot understand truth directly, so they find it nearly impossible to figure out many points, many arguments, and many theories based on notions and imagination. Once the imagination of their notions confirms them, there are many things said to be “truth,” yet before a few years have passed, the sense is that they are not the truth. Science is used to conclude that some things are the “truth,”yet after a few decades or centuries science refutes them. Are there many things like this? All too many. The theories of scientists like Einstein and Newton were originally declared to be truth, but now? They have been rejected. This fact is quite clear. So taking the statement “Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth,” is it enough to test truth only through practice? Is your practice so complete? Is it so thorough? Are there principles for your practice? How large is the scope of your practice? It is not easy to say. The “truth” that some people established after several decades of practice, people coming after them finally refute after practicing it for another century. So tell me whose practice was the accurate one? Which of these practices can confirm real truth? Is it adequate simply to say so? These things are all relative. We can’t say this statement is truth, only that it is correct, not that it is truth. So, the statement “Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth” holds up, but there are many truths, and some truths are so deep that even after a lifetime of practice you cannot finish testing them or confirm them. How do you explain them?
For six thousand years now Satan has been corrupting humanity, but do people understand Satan? Is what Satan has said after all just erroneous or is there truth in it? Has humanity reached a conclusion about this? Haven’t you said that “Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth,” so why don’t you test whether you are doing the right thing? Therefore, I say that this statement is correct only according to people’s conceptual imagination. This formula is correct and we need to put truth into practice. But how large is the scope of this practice, and how many years will be necessary? What kind of truth are you able to verify in experience? Can you test and verify Satan’s corruption and the erroneous things from it? For so many years you practiced things Confucius advocated—have you verified them? Are they right or wrong after all? There has been no conclusion. Theoretically and literally, the statement on practice sounds as though it holds up, but getting results from it isn’t easy, right? Some people have said, “If we haven’t had the experience of putting into practice all those truths expressed by God, then we can’t reach understanding or knowledge.” Based on that point we are also able to say, the statement “Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth” still holds up. But if you did not have the work of the Holy Spirit, could you acknowledge those truths? Could you achieve any results? Just like in China for over a thousand years women’s feet were bound, but did practicing this for over a thousand years demonstrate that it was after all right or wrong? Did people reach a conclusion? Humans have practiced so many absurd things for so many years without anyone understanding that, isn’t that true? So can we witness truth solely based on humans using a method such as practice? “Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth” sounds right, and it is a fine statement any way you think about it, but it does not produce any results. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, people could continue with their experience and go on with their beliefs but never be able to gain truth. In the Age of Grace many people study the Bible, and they surely, more or less, have knowledge gained through experience with the words of the Bible, but have they gained truth? Without the work of the Holy Spirit your experience will get you nowhere, for what human experience and human practice can attain is so limited! Isn’t that so? Therefore, while believing in God people must still have the work of the Holy Spirit before they can understand truth, before they can gain truth. Can people know God by practicing something for generations, for one or two thousand years, without the work of the Holy Spirit? No. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, all is lost, all fails, hollow and unreal. When I put it this way, can you accept it? In sum, I feel the statement on practice seems correct, but practicing it does not bring results and cannot reach any results. Of course, to experience the work of God we must experience the words of God, and if we have the work and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in our experience of God’s words, then we can understand truth and gain truth. Without the Holy Spirit’s work everything is wasted effort, for humans do not have such power, nor can relying on practice settle all questions.
Question (2): At our meetings now a lot of the time one person talks about themselves, so you quote one passage from God’s words to talk about an experience, and I quote another passage from God’s words to talk about something else. We don’t know how to ponder and fellowship about God’s words, and we don’t know how to respond to each other in order to help convey the topic, to achieve some pure understanding of the truth and have some direction to go in. Instead I feel that after the meeting has ended I have nothing to show for it. I don’t know what to do to get more out of the meetings.
Answer: Can you gain truth out of such experience? Relying only on blind experience won’t work. The Holy Spirit must be at work and other people must lead you before you can achieve any results. So when you have finished listening to my fellowship, do you know how to practice? Is there any need for me to come to your place myself and show you by going into particulars for each thing you come to? How to achieve results in the meeting, do I need to say more? Where is the stature in that, where is the capacity to understand for yourself? Is that acceptable? So where does the problem lie with the previous failures? Searching for truth is not simply a matter of whether you are satisfied with how well people speak at the meeting. What is most important is how you try to figure things out after you finish listening to a person’s fellowship. You can get something out of that only after you have thought about it more when you go home. Do not rely on thinking “if people at the meeting fellowship clearly about truth I’ll get something out of it, but if they don’t fellowship clearly I won’t get anything out of it.” Most people are short in stature, and what can be achieved at a meeting is limited, so I say you won’t gain anything if you do not work at it yourself as an individual. But if you pursue truth as an individual, work on just your individual experience, and do not go to meetings, do you think it is all right? Why isn’t that all right? During a meeting there is some result as long as everyone truly fellowships about God’s words and speaks about reality, not letters and doctrines. Can I put it that way? As for someone in search of truth, he can get some results. It is like the way that some people cast a little light on truth when they speak, and some people are very realistic in how they speak, so if a person in search of truth combines that bit of light with that bit of the realistic, and then adds their own knowledge, they can get quite a bit out of it. But if you think, “His talk was shallow. I have as much light as he does. What he said was realistic, but no more so than what I know. If you can’t discuss things comprehensively and thoroughly, I won’t listen!” If that is the attitude you have, can you get anything out of the meeting? Some people enjoy listening to lofty doctrine fellowshiped by speakers with the prestige, but if it is ordinary brothers and sisters they already know, speaking their local language, in the language of everyday life, and rambling so they’re not clear, then they think, “I can’t figure out where there is much of any light or reality to what they’re saying.” If it is a speaker with prestige, then they think, “It’s well-spoken, clear and insightful, I immediately liked what he said and agree with it.” Is it possible in this state of mind to gain any benefit from a meeting? This is arrogance! Don’t judge your brothers and sisters by whether some of them are not well educated, don’t judge them by whether they’re not well spoken. It is that bit of reality and light that benefits us. If that’s not the way you go to meetings, not the way you listen, or the way you judge others, then you won’t gain much in return.