90. What is a genuine church life? How should one live the church life to gain understanding of the truth and growth in life?
The Answer from God’s Word:
Some people say: “I’ve led the life of the church for several years, and every day I feel satisfied, every day I enjoy myself.” When you ask them how they spend their church life, they say: “When I go there I pray to God, and when I pray I weep bitter tears. All the brothers and sisters pray, they are all keen to open their mouths to speak with God and pray to God, after which we sing songs of praise, and when we sing we’re so moved that we all have tears running down our faces. Sometimes, I get so stirred up that I start sweating, I sweat so much I can wring the sweat out of my shirt, I’m dripping. And the brothers and sisters also dance, there are people singing and dancing. Church life is wonderful! Then we eat and drink the words of God, and when we eat and drink the words of God we feel that they are speaking to the bottom of our hearts. When we commune, everyone feels energized.” And after leading the life of the church like this for ten or so years, what is the result? No one focuses on being honest, no one dissects themselves, no one shares their true state with their brothers and sisters, and no one shares or lays bare their true substance with them. Ten or so years of church life have been in vain, spent dancing about, and amid people’s feelings and enjoyment. What do you say, where do people’s enjoyment and happiness come from? I dare say it isn’t the wish of God, nor does it satisfy Him, for God wants to see change in people, and wants to see His words actually lived out in people. This is what He wants to see; He doesn’t want to see you holding your hymn books and singing during assemblies or when you’re feeling especially fervent, nor does He want to see you there praising Him and dancing. He doesn’t want to see this. Quite the opposite, when God sees this He is mournful and heartbroken, because He has spoken millions upon millions of words, yet His words have not been carried out or lived out in any one of you. God feels mournful and anxious; this is what God is worried about. Often, we feel contented after having lived a little of the life of the church; often, we feel somewhat happy, somewhat at peace, somewhat delighted, when we praise God there is a feeling of elation and comfort in our hearts, or else we feel spiritually fulfilled, and so we think that we’ve done very well in our belief in God. And we keep holding on to these false images, considering them the things most due to us in the belief in God and the things we have already gained, and we use them to substitute changes in disposition and entry onto the path of salvation; we then don’t need to pursue, nor do we need to pursue being honest, we don’t try and lay ourselves bare, or put the words of God into practice. And so God feels very worried.
from “To Be Honest, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks
In “sharing and communing experiences,” sharing means speaking of every thought in your heart, your state, your experiences and knowledge of God’s words, as well as the corrupt disposition within you—and after that, others differentiate, and accept the positive and recognize that which is negative. Only this is sharing, and only this is truly communing. It does not simply mean having insights into the words of God or a part of a hymn, and communing as you please, and not saying anything related to your own actual life. Everyone talks about doctrinal and theoretical knowledge, and says nothing of knowledge drawn from actual experiences. They all avoid talking about such things, about their personal lives, about their life in the church with their brothers and sisters, and about their own inner world. In this way, how can there be true communication between people, how can there be real trust? There cannot! What do you say, if a wife never speaks of the words within her heart to her husband, are they confidants? Do they confide in each other? They do not. Suppose that all day long the husband says, “Aw, my wife, I love you!” and all day long the wife says, “My husband, I love you, I will love you forever, I’ll never leave you.” They say only this, but the wife has never laid bare what she’s thinking in her heart, what she wants of her husband, or what problems she has. She has never spoken to her husband of such things, she has never confided in him—and if the two of them have never confided in each other, are they a couple that love each other? If they have nothing but high-sounding words for each other when they are together, are they truly husband and wife? Certainly not! If the brothers and sisters are to be able to confide in each other, help each other out, and provide for one another when they are together, then each person must speak of their own true experiences. If you don’t talk of your own true experiences, and only speak high-sounding words, and words that are doctrinal and superficial, then you are not honest, and you are incapable of being honest. … If people have no verbal or spiritual communication, there is no possibility of intimacy between them, and they can’t provide to each other or help one another. Do you have such a feeling? If your friend says everything to you, saying all of what they’re thinking in their heart, and what suffering or happiness they have in their heart, then do you not feel particularly intimate with them? That they are willing to tell these things to you is because you have also spoken of the words in your heart to them—you are especially close, and it is because of this that you are able to get along with them and help each other out. Without this among the brothers and sisters in the church, there would never be harmony among the brothers and sisters, which is one of the requisites of being honest. Some people say: “Aw, it’s hard being honest, do I have to tell everything I think in my heart to others? Isn’t it enough to commune the positive things—I won’t tell others of my dark or corrupt side, OK?” If you do not speak these things, and do not dissect yourself, then you will never know yourself, will never know what kind of thing you are, and there will be no chance of others trusting you. This is fact. If you wish for others to trust you, first you must be honest. To be honest, you must first lay your heart bare, so that everyone can see it, and all that you are thinking, and can see your true face; you must not pretend or package yourself. Only then will people trust you and consider you honest. This is the most fundamental practice of being honest, and it is a precondition. You are always pretending, always feigning holiness, virtuousness, greatness, and loftiness, and do not let people see your corruption and your failings. You present a false image to people, so that they believe you are upstanding, mighty, self-denying, impartial, and selfless. Don’t pretend, don’t package yourself; instead, lay yourself bare, lay your heart bare for others to see. If you can lay your heart bare for others to see, and lay bare all that you think and plan to do in your heart—regardless of whether it is positive or negative—then are you not being honest? If you are able to lay yourself bare for others to see, God will also see you, and say: “You have laid yourself bare for others to see, and so before Me you are surely honest, too.” If you only lay yourself bare to God out of view of others, and always pretend to be mighty and virtuous or just and selfless before them, then what will God think? And what will God say? God will say: “You are genuinely crafty and hypocritical, you are petty, and you are not honest.” God will condemn you thus. If you wish to be honest, then regardless of what you do before God or people, you are able to reveal your heart to others. Is this easy to achieve? It requires time, for there to be a battle within our hearts, and for us to continually practice. Step-by-step, our hearts will be opened, and we will be able to lay ourselves bare.
… If you do not put God’s words into practice, and if you never dissect your own secrets or difficulties, or never tell anyone these private things or open up to people about them, commune with people about them, or dissect them with people in order to lay yourself bare, then there’s no possibility of you being saved. And why is that? If you do not lay yourself bare or dissect yourself in this way, your corrupt disposition can never change. That’s what these words mean. And if you do not change, you can forget being saved. This is God’s will, and this is God’s intention in saying these words. Why has God always emphasized being honest? Because it is so important; it directly relates to whether or not you can be saved.
from “To Be Honest, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Every time that you eat and drink a passage of God’s word, if you are able to grasp the work that He is performing at present, and are able to know how to pray, how to cooperate, and how to enter in, only this is achieving results from eating and drinking God’s words. When you are able to find the path of entry from God’s words, and are able to grasp the current dynamics of God’s work and the trend of the work of the Holy Spirit in His words, this shows that you are on the right track. If you have not grasped the key points when eating and drinking God’s words, if you are unable to find a path to practice after eating and drinking God’s words, it shows that you still do not know how to eat and drink His words and that you have not found the method or principle for eating and drinking His words.
from “Be Mindful of God’s Will to Attain Perfection” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Wholehearted devotion to the words of God mainly means seeking the truth, seeking God’s intention within His words, focusing on grasping the will of God, and understanding and obtaining more truth from the words of God. When reading His words, Peter was not focused on understanding doctrines and he was even less focused on obtaining theological knowledge; instead, he was focused on understanding the truth and grasping God’s will, and achieving an understanding of His disposition and His loveliness. He also tried to understand the various corrupt states of man from God’s words, and understand the corrupt nature of man and man’s true shortcomings, achieving all aspects of the demands God makes of man in order to satisfy Him. He had so many correct practices within the words of God; this is most in line with God’s will, and it is man’s best cooperation in his experience of the work of God. … He not only came to understand himself from the words and the work of God, but he also came to know God. He also particularly focused on God’s requirements of mankind within His words, and in what aspects man should satisfy God to be in line with God’s will. He put forth great effort in this aspect and achieved full clarity; this was very beneficial for his own entry.
from “How to Take the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks
God’s work is to supply you through His words. When you obey and accept His words, then the Holy Spirit shall surely work in you. The Holy Spirit works exactly in the way I speak. Do as I have said, and the Holy Spirit will promptly work in you. I release a new light for you to see and bring you into the light of the present time. When you walk into this light, the Holy Spirit will immediately work in you. There are some who may be recalcitrant, saying, “I simply will not carry out what you say.” Then I tell you that you have now come to the end of the road, you are dried up, and have no more life. Therefore, in experiencing the transformation of your disposition, it is most crucial to keep pace with the present light. The Holy Spirit not only works in certain men who are used by God, but even more in the church. He could be working in anyone. He may work in you for the present, and when you have experienced it, He may work in someone else next. Make haste to follow; the more closely you follow the present light, the more your life can mature and grow. No matter what manner of man he may be, so long as the Holy Spirit works in him, make sure to follow. Take in his experiences through your own, and you will receive even higher things. In so doing you will progress more quickly. This is the path of perfection for man and a way through which life grows. The path to being made perfect is reached through your obedience to the work of the Holy Spirit. You do not know through what kind of person God will work to perfect you, nor through what person, occurrence, or thing He will enable you to enter into possession and to gain some insight. If you are able to walk onto this right track, it shows that there is great hope for you to be perfected by God. If you are unable to do so, it shows that your future is bleak and devoid of light. Once you get on the right track, you will gain revelation in all things. No matter what the Holy Spirit may reveal to others, if you proceed on the basis of their knowledge to experience things on your own, then this experience will become a part of your life, and you will be able to supply others out of this experience. Those who supply others by parroting words are people who have not had any experiences; you must learn to find, through the enlightenment and illumination of others, a way of practice before you can begin to speak of your own actual experience and knowledge. This will be of greater benefit to your own life. You should experience in this way, obeying all that comes from God. You should seek the will of God in all things and study the lessons in all things, that your life may mature and grow. This kind of practice affords the fastest progress.
from “Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
What is it to accept truth? It means that no matter which corrupt disposition you have or which venom of the great red dragon poisons your nature, you acknowledge it when it is revealed by God’s word and submit to God’s word with utter conviction. And, you know yourself according to God’s word. This is what it means to accept God’s word. No matter what God says, no matter how piercing to the heart, no matter what words He uses, you can accept it as long as it is truth, and you can acknowledge it as long as it conforms to reality. You can submit to God’s word regardless of how deeply you understand it, and you accept and submit to the light of enlightenment from the Holy Spirit that is communicated by the brothers and sisters. When such a person’s pursuit of truth has reached a certain point, he can obtain truth and achieve the transformation of his disposition.
from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks