It is Heaven’s law and earth’s principle to believe in God and know God, and today—during an age when God incarnate personally does His work—is a particularly good time to know God. Satisfying God is achieved upon the foundation of understanding God’s will, and to understand God’s will, it is necessary to know God. This knowledge of God is the vision that a believer must have; it is the basis of man’s belief in God. If man does not have this knowledge, then his belief in God is vague, and lies in empty theory. Though it is the resolution of people like this to follow God, they obtain nothing. All those who obtain nothing in this stream are the ones who will be eliminated, and they are the people who are merely doing the bare minimum. Whichever step of God’s work you experience, you should be accompanied by a mighty vision. Without such a vision, it would be difficult for you to accept each step of new work, for man is incapable of imagining the new work of God, it is beyond man’s conception. And so without a shepherd to tend to man, without a shepherd to fellowship about the visions, man is incapable of accepting this new work. If man cannot receive the visions, then he cannot receive the new work of God, and if man cannot obey God’s new work, then man is incapable of understanding God’s will, and so his knowledge of God amounts to nothing. Before man carries out the words of God, he must know the words of God, that is, understand God’s will; only in this way can God’s words be carried out accurately and according to God’s heart. This must be possessed by everyone who seeks the truth, and is the process that must be experienced by everyone who tries to know God. The process of knowing the words of God is the process of knowing God, and also the process of knowing the work of God. And so, knowing the visions not only refers to knowing the humanity of God incarnate, but also includes knowing the words and work of God. From the words of God people come to understand God’s will, and from the work of God they come to know God’s disposition and what God is. Belief in God is the first step to knowing God. The process of advancing from the initial belief in God to the most profound belief in God is the process of knowing God, and the process of experiencing the work of God. If you only believe in God for the sake of believing in God, and do not believe in God in order to know God, then there is no reality to your belief, and it cannot become pure—of this there is no doubt. If, during the process by which he experiences God, man gradually comes to know God, then his disposition will gradually change, and his belief will become increasingly true. In this way, when man achieves success in belief in God, he will completely gain God. God went to such great lengths to become flesh for the second time and personally do His work so that man would be able to know Him, and would be able to see Him. Knowing God[a] is the final effect to be achieved at the end of God’s work; it is God’s final requirement of mankind. He does this for the sake of His final testimony, and so that man may finally and completely turn to Him. Man can only love God by knowing God, and to love God he must know God. No matter how he seeks, or what he seeks to gain, he must be able to achieve the knowledge of God. Only in this way can man satisfy God’s heart. Only by knowing God can man truly believe in God, and only by knowing God can he truly revere and obey God. Those who do not know God shall never truly obey and revere God. Knowing God includes knowing God’s disposition, understanding God’s will, and knowing what God is. Yet whichever aspect of knowing God it is, each requires man to pay a price, and requires the will to obey, without which no one would be able to follow to the end. The work of God is too incompatible with the conceptions of man, God’s disposition and what God is are too difficult for man to know, and all that God says and does is too incomprehensible to man; if man wishes to follow God, but is unwilling to obey God, then man will gain nothing. From the creation of the world until today, God has done much work that is incomprehensible to man and which man has found hard to accept, and God has said much that makes the conceptions of man difficult to heal. Yet He has never ceased His work because man has too many difficulties; He has carried on working and speaking, and even though great numbers of “warriors” have fallen by the wayside, He is still doing His work, and continues to choose group after group of people who are willing to obey His new work. He does not pity those fallen “heroes,” but instead treasures those who accept His new work and words. But to what end does He work in this way, step-by-step? Why is He always eliminating and choosing people? Why does He always employ such method? The aim of His work is for man to know Him, and thus be gained by Him. The principle of His work is to work on those who are able to obey the work He does today, and not to work on those who obey His past work, but oppose His work of today. This is the very reason why He has eliminated so many people.
The effects of the lesson of knowing God cannot be achieved in one or two days: Man must accumulate experiences, undergo suffering, and have true obedience. First of all, start from the work and words of God. You must understand what knowing God includes, how to achieve the knowledge of God, and how to see God during your experiences. This is what everyone must do when they have yet to know God. No one can grasp the work and words of God straight away, and no one can achieve a knowledge of God’s entirety in a short time. What’s required is the necessary process of experience, without which no one would be able to know God or truly follow God. The more work that God does, the more that man knows Him. The more at odds the work of God is with the conceptions of man, the more man’s knowledge of Him is renewed and deepened. If the work of God were to remain forever unchanged, then man would have but a small knowledge of God. From the creation of the world until today, you must know clearly the visions of what God did during the Age of Law, what He did during the Age of Grace, and what He does during the Age of Kingdom. You must know the work of God. Only after following Jesus did Peter gradually come to know much of the work the Spirit did in Jesus. He said, “Relying on the experiences of man is not enough to achieve a complete knowledge of God; there must be many new things from the work of God to help us know God.” At the beginning, Peter believed that Jesus was sent by God, like an apostle, and he did not see Jesus as Christ. While Peter was called to follow[b] Jesus, Jesus asked him, “Simon, son of Jonah, will you follow Me?” Peter said, “I must follow he who is sent by the heavenly Father. I must acknowledge he who is chosen by the Holy Spirit. I will follow You.” From his words, it can be seen that Peter simply had no knowledge of Jesus; he had experienced the words of God, had dealt with himself, and had suffered hardship for God, yet he did not know the work of God. After a period of experience, Peter saw in Jesus many of the deeds of God, saw the loveliness of God, and saw much of God’s being in Jesus. So too did he see that the words of Jesus could not have been spoken by man, and that the work Jesus did could not have been done by man. In Jesus’ words and actions, furthermore, Peter saw much of the wisdom of God, and much divine work. During his experiences, he did not merely come to know himself, but also focused on observing the actions of Jesus, from which he discovered many new things; namely, that there were many expressions of the practical God in the work that God did through Jesus, and that Jesus’ words, actions, the ways He shepherded the churches and the work He carried out differed from any ordinary man. Thus, from Jesus he learned many lessons that he was supposed to learn, and by the time Jesus was about to be nailed to the cross, he had gained some knowledge of Jesus—a knowledge which was the basis of his lifelong loyalty to Jesus, and of his crucifixion upside down for the sake of Jesus. He was possessed of some conceptions, and did not have a clear knowledge of Jesus at the beginning, but such things are inevitably found in corrupt man. When He was about to depart, Jesus told Peter that His crucifixion was the work He had come to do; He must be forsaken by the age, this impure old age must nail Him to the cross, and He had come to complete the work of redemption, and, having completed this work, His ministry would have come to an end. Upon hearing this, Peter was beset with sorrow, and felt even more devoted to Jesus. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, Peter wept bitterly in private. Prior to this, he had asked Jesus, “My Lord! You say You are going to be crucified. After You’re gone, when will we see You again?” Is there not mixture in the words that he spoke? Are there not his conceptions? In his heart, he knew that Jesus had come to complete part of God’s work, and that after Jesus left, the Spirit would be with him; although He would be nailed to the cross and ascend to heaven, the Spirit of God would be with him. At the time, he had some knowledge of Jesus, and knew that He had been sent by the Spirit of God, that the Spirit of God was within Him, and that Jesus was God Himself, He was Christ. Yet because of his love for Jesus, and because of the weakness of man, still Peter said such words. If you can observe and undergo meticulous experiences in every step of God’s work, then you will be able to gradually discover the loveliness of God. And what was the vision of Paul? When Jesus appeared to him, Paul said, “My Lord! Who are You?” Jesus said, “I am Jesus whom you persecute.” This was Paul’s vision. Peter used the resurrection of Jesus and His appearance for 40 days, and Jesus’ teachings during His lifetime, as his vision until he came to the end of his journey.
Man experiences God, knows himself, rids himself of his corrupt disposition, and seeks a growth in life all for the sake of knowing God. If you only seek to know yourself and deal with your own corrupt disposition, and have no knowledge of what work God does to man, of how great His salvation is, or of how you experience God and witness the deeds of God, then your experience is fatuous. If you think that being able to put the truth into practice, and being able to endure means that one’s life has grown up, then this means that you still do not understand the true meaning of life, and still do not understand God’s purpose in working man. One day, when you are in the religious churches, among members of the Repentance Church or the Life Church, you will encounter many devout people whose prayers contain visions, and who feel touched and have words to guide them in their pursuit of life. What’s more, in many matters they are able to endure, and forsake themselves, not led by the flesh. At that time, you won’t be able to tell the difference: You will believe that everything they do is right, is the natural expression of life, and what a pity it is that the name that they believe in is wrong. Are such beliefs not foolish? Why is it said that many people have no life? Because they do not know God, and thus it is said that they have no God, and have no life. If your belief in God has reached a certain point where you are capable of thoroughly knowing the deeds of God, the reality of God, and every stage of God’s work, then you are possessed of the truth. If you do not know the work and disposition of God, then your experience is still lacking. How Jesus carried out that stage of His work, how this stage is being carried out, how God did His work in the Age of Grace and what work was done, what work is being done in this stage—if you do not have a thorough knowledge of these things, then you will never feel assured and secure. If, after a period of experience, you are able to know the work done by God and every step of God’s work, and have a thorough knowledge of the aims of God’s words, and why so many words spoken by Him have not been fulfilled, then you can rest easy and boldly pursue the road ahead, free from worry or refinement. You should see what God uses to achieve so much work of His. He uses the words He speaks, refining man and transforming man’s conceptions through many kinds of words. All the suffering that you have endured, all the refinement that you have experienced, the dealing that you have accepted within you, the enlightenment that you have experienced—they have all been achieved using the words spoken by God. Because of what does man follow God? Because of the words of God! The words of God are deeply mysterious, and can touch man’s heart, reveal things deep within man’s heart, can make him know things that happened in the past, and allow him to see into the future. And so man endures suffering because of God’s words, and is made perfect because of God’s words, and only then does man follow God. What man should do in this stage is accept the words of God, and regardless of whether he is made perfect, or refined, what’s key are the words of God; this is the work of God, and is the vision that man should know today.
How does God make man perfect? What is the disposition of God? And what is contained within His disposition? These must all be understood; this is spreading the name of God, it is bearing testimony to God, and exalting God, and man will ultimately achieve changes in his life disposition upon the foundation of knowing God. The more dealing and refinement that man undergoes, the greater his strength, and the more numerous the steps of God’s work, the more that man is made perfect. Today, in man’s experience, each step of God’s work strikes back at the conceptions of man, and every step is unimaginable by man’s intellect, and beyond his expectations. God provides all that is needed by man, and in every respect it is at odds with the conceptions of man, and when you are weak, God utters His words; only in this way can He provide your life. By striking back at your conceptions, you come to accept the dealing of God, and only in this way can you get rid of your corruption. Today, in one respect God incarnate works in divinity, and in another respect He works in normal humanity. You should not deny any work that God does, and you should obey whatever God says or does in normal humanity, and no matter how normal He is, you should obey and understand. Only once you have actual experience can you know for sure that He is God, and stop producing conceptions, and follow Him to the end. There is wisdom to God’s work, and He knows how man can stand testimony to Him. He knows where man’s vital weakness is, and the words He speaks can strike you at your vital weakness, but He also uses His majestic and wise words to make you stand testimony to Him. Such are the miraculous deeds of God. The work done by God is unimaginable by the intellect of man. The judgment of God reveals the kinds of corruption that man, being of the flesh, is possessed of, and what things are the essence of man, and it leaves man with nowhere to hide from his shame.
God does the work of judgment and chastisement so that man may know Him, and for the sake of His testimony. Without His judgment of man’s corrupt disposition, man would not know His righteous disposition that allows no offense, and could not turn his old knowledge of God into a new one. For the sake of His testimony, and for the sake of His management, He makes His entirety public, thus enabling man to achieve the knowledge of God, and change his disposition, and bear resounding testimony to God through God’s public appearance. Change is achieved in the disposition of man through different kinds of God’s work; without such changes in man’s disposition, man would be unable to bear testimony to God, and could not be after God’s heart. Changes in man’s disposition signify that man has freed himself from Satan’s bondage, has freed himself from the influence of darkness, and has truly become a model and specimen of God’s work, has truly become a witness of God and someone who is after God’s heart. Today, God incarnate has come to do His work on earth, and He requires that man achieve knowledge of Him, obedience to Him, testimony to Him—know His practical and normal work, obey all of His words and work which do not accord with the conceptions of man, and bear testimony to all His work of saving man, and all the deeds He does that conquer man. Those who bear testimony to God must have a knowledge of God; only this kind of testimony is accurate, and real, and only this kind of testimony can shame Satan. God uses those who have come to know Him through undergoing His judgment and chastisement, dealing and pruning, to bear testimony to Him. He uses those who have been corrupted by Satan to bear testimony to Him, and so too does He use those whose disposition has changed, and who have thus gained His blessings, to bear testimony to Him. He does not need man to praise Him in word only, nor does He need the praise and testimony of the ilk of Satan, who have not been saved by Him. Only those who know God are qualified to bear testimony to God, and only those whose disposition has changed are qualified to bear testimony to God, and God will not allow man to intentionally bring shame upon His name.
a. The original text reads “The work of knowing God.”
b. The original text reads “was following.”