Today, many people don’t even have the rationality or self-awareness of Paul, who, although he was struck down by the Lord Jesus, already possessed the resolve to work and suffer for Him. Jesus gave him an illness, and later on, Paul continued to suffer this illness once he began to work. Why did he say he had a thorn in his flesh? The thorn, in fact, was illness, and for Paul, it was a fatal weakness. No matter how well he worked or how great his resolve to suffer, he always had this illness. Paul was of much stronger caliber than you people today; not only was he of good caliber, but he also had self-awareness and he was possessed of more rationality than you. Today, never mind achieving the rationality of Peter—many people can’t even achieve the rationality of Paul. After Paul was struck down by Jesus, he ceased to persecute the disciples, and began to preach and suffer for Jesus. And what inspired his suffering? Paul believed that, since he had beheld the great light, he must bear testimony to the Lord Jesus, must no longer persecute the disciples of Jesus, and must no longer oppose God’s work. After he beheld the great light, he began to suffer for God, and to dedicate himself to God, and he set his resolve. After the great light shone upon him, he began to work for God, and was able to set his resolve, which proved that he possessed rationality. In religion, Paul was a very high-ranking figure. He was very knowledgeable and gifted, he looked down on most people, and had a stronger personality than most. But after the great light shone upon him, he said that he must work for the Lord Jesus—and this was his rationality. When he persecuted the disciples, Jesus appeared to him and said: “Paul, why do you persecute Me?” Paul immediately fell down and said: “Who are You?” A voice from the sky said: “I am the Lord Jesus, whom you persecute.” All at once, Paul awoke, he understood, and only then did he know that Jesus was Christ, that He was God. I must obey, God has given me this grace, and I persecuted Him thus, yet He didn’t strike me down, nor did He curse me—I must suffer for Him. Paul recognized that he had persecuted the Lord Jesus Christ and was now killing His disciples, that God had not cursed him, but shone the light upon him; this inspired him, and he said: “Although I did not look upon His face, I heard His voice and beheld His great light. Only now do I truly see that God really loves me, and that the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the God who has mercy on man and He forgives man’s sins for eternity. I truly see that I am a sinner.” Though, afterward, God used Paul’s gifts to work, forget this for the moment. His resolve at that time, his normal human rationality, and his self-awareness—you are incapable of achieving these things. Today, have you not received much light? Have many people not beheld that God’s disposition is one of majesty, wrath, judgment, and chastisement? Often have curses, trials, and refinement befallen people—and what have they learned? Have you gained anything from your discipline and dealing? Severe words, smiting, and judgment have befallen you many times, yet you pay them no heed. You don’t even have the little rationality possessed by Paul—are you not extremely backward? There was much that Paul didn’t see clearly. He knew only that the light had shone upon him, and was unaware that he had been struck down. In his personal belief, after the light had shone upon him, he must expend himself for God, suffer for God, do everything to pave the way for the Lord Jesus Christ, and gain more sinners to be redeemed by the Lord. This was his resolve, and the only aim of his work—but when he worked, the disease still did not leave him, right up until his death. Paul worked for more than twenty years. He suffered much, and experienced many persecutions and tribulations, though, of course, his trials were much less than those of Peter. How pathetic is it if you don’t even have the rationality of Paul? In this, how could God embark upon even greater work in you?
When he spread the gospel, Paul suffered great torment. His resolve, the work he did, his faith, loyalty, love, patience, and humility at the time, and the many other external dispositions he lived out, were higher than you people today. To put it more sternly, there is no normal rationality in you! You don’t even have any conscience or humanity—you lack so much! Thus, much of the time, in what you live out there is no normal rationality to be found, and no sign of any self-awareness. Although Paul’s body suffered illness, he kept praying and seeking: What is this illness—I’ve done all this work for the Lord, why does it not leave me? Could it be that the Lord Jesus is testing me? Has He struck me down? If He had struck me down, I would have died at the time, and been incapable of doing all this work for Him, nor could I have received so much light. He also realized my resolve. Paul always felt that this illness was God testing him, that it was tempering his faith and willpower—this is what he thought. In reality, his illness was a sequela from when the Lord Jesus struck him down. It placed him under mental pressure, and removed much of his rebellious disposition. If you find yourselves in Paul’s circumstances, what would you do? Could your resolve be greater than Paul’s? Are you more capable of suffering than him? When the people of today are inflicted with some minor illness or undergo a great trial, their suffering leaves them completely disconcerted. If you were shut in a birdcage and never let out you’d be OK. And everything you’d need to eat and drink must be provided for, otherwise you’d be like wolves. Suffering a little constraint or hardship is good for you; if you were given an easy time of it you’d be forfeited, and how could you be protected? Today, it is because you are chastised, cursed, and judged that you are given protection. It is because you have suffered much that you are protected. If not, you would have long since fallen into depravity. I do not make things difficult for you intentionally—man’s nature is firmly entrenched, and it has to be this way for people’s dispositions to be changed. Today, you don’t even possess the rationality or self-awareness of Paul, nor do you have his conscience. You always have to be pressured, and you always have to be chastised and judged in order to awaken your spirits. Chastisement and judgment are what’s best for your lives. And when necessary, there must also be the chastisement of the arrival of the facts; only then will you fully submit. Your natures are such that without chastisement and curse, you would be unwilling to bow your heads, would be unwilling to submit. Without the facts before your eyes, there would be no effect. You are too lowly and worthless in character! Without chastisement and judgment, it would be difficult for you to be conquered, and hard for your unrighteousness and disobedience to be suppressed. Your old nature is so deeply rooted. If you were placed upon the throne, you’d have no idea of heaven’s height and earth’s depth, much less of where you were headed. You don’t even know where you came from, so how could you know the Creator? Without the timely chastisement and curse of today, your last days would have long since arrived. That’s to say nothing of your fate—isn’t that even more at risk? Without this timely chastisement and judgment, who knows how arrogant you would grow, and who knows how depraved you would become. This chastisement and judgment has brought you to today, and it has preserved your existence. If you were still taught using the same methods as those of your “father,” who knows what world you’d enter into! You don’t have any ability to control and reflect upon yourselves. It is enough for people like you, to merely follow, obey, and not interfere or disrupt in order for My aims to be achieved. Should you not do better in accepting the chastisement and judgment of today? What other choices do you have? When Paul saw the Lord Jesus, still he did not believe. Later, after the Lord Jesus had been nailed to the cross, he knew this fact, yet he continued to persecute and oppose. This is what is meant by willfully sinning, and so he was struck down. At the beginning, he knew there was a King among the Jews who was called Jesus, he had heard this. Later on, as he gave sermons in the temple and preached across the land, he went against Jesus, and he loftily refused to obey any man. These things became a tremendous obstacle to the work at the time. When Jesus was working, Paul did not directly persecute and arrest people, but used preaching and words to tear the work down. Later on, when the Lord Jesus Christ was put upon the cross, he started arresting the disciples, rushing from place to place and doing all he could to harass them. Only after the light shone upon him did he awaken and experience great regret. After he was struck down, his illness never left him. Sometimes, he felt his affliction had grown worse, and was unable to stand. He thought:[a] “What is going on? Have I really been struck down?” Then, without knowing how it happened, he’d find he was better again, and would start to work once more. But the illness never left him, and it was because of this illness that he did much work. It can be said that Jesus placed this illness in Paul because of his arrogance and pride; it was a punishment for him, but also for the sake of Jesus’ greater work—Jesus used Paul’s gifts for His work. As a matter of fact, it was not Jesus’ intention to save Paul, but to use him. Yet Paul’s disposition was too arrogant and willful, and so a “thorn” was placed in him. There are many among you like Paul, but if you truly possess the resolve to follow to the very end, you will not be mistreated. Ultimately, by the time Paul finished his work, the illness did not seem so painful to him, and thus he was later able to say the words “I have finished my course, I have fought the fight, and there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness”—which he said because he did not know. We won’t talk about anything else, let’s keep to the part of him that was positive and commendable: He had a conscience, and after the light shone upon him he devoted himself to God and suffered for God. Naturally, this is the commendable side of him, these were his strengths. We won’t talk about how he rebelled and opposed; we mainly talk about his rationality of a normal man, and whether or not he possessed self-awareness. If there are those who believe that, because he had strengths, this proves that he was someone who was blessed, who believe that he wasn’t necessarily chastised, then these are the words of people without sense.
Once I’ve finished speaking to them face-to-face, many people once more become dissolute behind My back, not thinking My words important. Time and again I speak, revealing layer after layer, and until the very bottom layer is exposed, they “find peace,” and cause no more trouble. With your states as they are today, you must still be ruthlessly attacked and exposed, and judged detail-by-detail, so that you can’t even catch your breath. You must always be beaten and exposed, and to you it seems as if chastisement never leaves you, that curse, too, is never away from you, nor stern judgment, allowing you to see that the hand of God’s administrative decrees never departs from you. This is better, it’s like when Aaron beheld that Jehovah never left him. (But what he beheld was Jehovah’s constant guidance and protection; the guidance that you behold today is chastisement, curse, and judgment.) Today, the hand of Jehovah’s administrative decrees does not leave you either, but there’s one thing you can relax about: No matter how you oppose, rebel, and pass judgments, there will be no harm to your flesh. But there are people who go too far in their opposition, which isn’t acceptable; there is a limit, and it is not acceptable for you to obstruct God’s work. Today, you can speak and act without repercussions—but do not interrupt or disrupt the life of the church, do not interrupt the work of the Holy Spirit. For the rest, you can do what you want. You say you will not pursue life and wish to return to the world. Then hurry up and go! You can do whatever you wish, as long as it doesn’t obstruct God’s work. Yet there is one thing you must know: In the end, such willful sinners shall be eliminated. Today, however, you are not reproached. In the end, only a portion of people will be able to bear testimony—and the rest will be in danger. If you don’t wish to be in this stream, that’s fine. The people of today are treated tolerantly; I do not limit you. It’s fine as long as you are unafraid of the chastisement of tomorrow. But if you are in this stream, you must bear testimony, and you must be chastised. If you say you can take it no longer, and wish to take some time out, that’s fine—no one’s stopping you! But I will not allow you to do work that is destructive and which throws the work of the Holy Spirit into disarray—you simply cannot be forgiven for that! As for what your eyes see and your ears hear which people are chastised, and whose families are cursed—there are limits and boundaries to this. The Holy Spirit does not do things lightly. Based on the sins of man and all that you have done, if you were to be treated and taken seriously according to your own unrighteousness, which of you would be able to survive? Great trouble would come upon you—and would man still be OK then? Yet today, many people are treated with tolerance. Even though you judge, rebel, and oppose, as long as you do not interrupt, then I’ll face you with a smile. If you truly pursue life, then you must suffer a little chastisement, and must endure, you must endure the pain of parting with what you love to go onto the operating table for surgery, you must endure the pain, accepting trials and suffering like Peter. Today, you are before the seat of judgment. In the future, you must go on the “guillotine,” which will be when you sacrifice yourselves.
During the last stage of work of the last days, you must all be aware that you may believe that God won’t annihilate your flesh, and it can be said that you may not suffer any illness even though you oppose Him and judge Him—but when God’s stern words come upon you, you cannot hide, and are panicked and anxious. But today, you must have a little conscience. Do not be those who oppose and rebel against God, do not be the evil ones. You should turn your back on your old ancestors; only this shows you have true stature, and so too is this the humanity that you ought to possess. You’re always incapable of putting aside your own prospects or the enjoyments of today. God says: As long as you do all you can to follow Me, I shall surely make you perfect. After you are made perfect, there shall be beautiful hopes—you will be brought into My kingdom to enjoy blessings with Me. You have a destination, yet the requirements of you have never lessened. There is also a condition: In this place, regardless of whether you will be conquered or made perfect, today you must be subjected to some chastisement, and some suffering, you must be smitten, and disciplined, you must listen to My words, follow My way, and do God’s will—this is what you humans should do. Regardless of how you pursue, you must clearly hear this way. If you have genuinely, truly seen, then you can continue following. If you believe that there are no prospects or hopes here, then you can go. These words have been clearly spoken to you, but if you truly wish to go, this shows only that you have not the slightest conscience; this action of yours is sufficient to prove that you are a demon. Though you say that all should be left up to God, based on what you live out, and your flesh, you still live under the domain of Satan. Although Satan is also in God’s hands, you yourself belong to Satan, and have yet to be truly saved by God, for you still live under the influence of Satan. How must you pursue in order to be completely saved? The choice is yours: You can run away, you can fly off, you can go wherever you want, it’s up to you—you should choose the road you should take. Ultimately, if you can say: I have nothing better, I repay God’s love with my conscience, and must have a little humanity. I can achieve nothing higher, nor is my caliber so high; I understand not the visions and meaning of God’s work. I merely repay God’s love, I do whatever God asks, and I do all that I can—I perform my duty as a creature of God—and, in this way, I feel comfort. This is the highest testimony of which you are capable. This is the highest standard required of a portion of people: performing the duty of a creature of God. You must do as much as you are able. God’s requirements of you are not too high; as long as you do what you can, then in this you are bearing testimony.
a. The original text omits “He thought.”