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9. The Principles of Experiencing Trials and Refinement

Practice and Exercises for Principled Behavior

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9. The Principles of Experiencing Trials and Refinement

1. You must understand that all trials and refinement are God’s arrangements, and that contained within them is God’s love, God’s will and God’s requirements;

2. During trials, you must be quiet before God, pray and seek to grasp God’s will; you absolutely must obey God’s work;

3. You must seek the truth, have unshakable faith and stand witness; obeying God is key, and it is preferable to curse yourself than to complain and betray God;

4. In experiencing trials and refinement, you must reach an understanding of the truth and a knowledge of God, and only then can you truly give thanks and praise.

Relevant Words of God:

People believe in God with the purpose of seeking to obtain blessings in the future. All people have this intent and hope. Corruption within human nature must be resolved through trials, however. In whichever aspects you do not pass, it is in these aspects that you must be refined—this is God’s arrangement. God creates an environment for you, forcing you to be refined there to know your own corruption. Ultimately you reach a point where you would rather die and give up your schemes and desires, and submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangement.

So if people do not have several years of refinement, if they don’t have a certain amount of suffering, they will not be able to avoid the bondage of corruption of the flesh in their thought and in their hearts. In whichever aspects you are still subject to Satan’s bondage, in whichever aspects you still have your own desires, your own demands—it is in these aspects that you should suffer. Only in suffering can lessons be learned, which means being able to gain truth, and understand God’s intention. In fact, many truths are understood within experience of painful trials. Nobody says that God’s intention is known, that His almightiness and wisdom are understood, that God’s righteous disposition is appreciated in an environment of ease or in favorable circumstances. That would be impossible!

from “How to Satisfy God in the Midst of Trials” in Records of Christ’s Talks

During the time of the service-doers, many people are in so much negativity and pain that they cry and fuss to the point that they wail and complain out loud, wondering how they can be a service-doer with so many hardships. They are truly not willing! You are not willing and you don’t understand, but God understands you. Isn’t this love? His love includes a comprehension of people, seeing through people, and a thorough understanding of people. His love is not confused, it is not pretend, it is not empty, but it is real. He sees your shortcomings and ignorance and has pity on you, loves you, and always stirs you emotionally. Regardless of whether you are not ready or willing to be a service-doer, He is always speaking and giving you several months of refinement in order to reveal your corruption and let you understand your disgraceful situation. Is there love during this period of three months? If He did not have love, then He would ignore you; in seeing the manner of your conduct during the time of the service-doers, He would have spurned you early on. Are you unwilling to be a service-doer? You won’t suffer with God, but you are hopping with joy when you obtain blessings. If God had only hatred instead of love, then people would be eliminated because of their corrupt reactions. Three months of refinement is not a long time. Why do I say it is not a long time? Because this is merely the amount of time that people are able to bear. If it were for a little longer, then they wouldn’t be able to bear it. Although they always sing, meet together, and fellowship, they only enjoy those things and could certainly not continue standing; therefore, they are turned into God’s people early on. This also entails love; God uses His heart and love to reform people and to get a hold of people. This is also a manifestation of love. You can see God’s love in this time-frame; He does not delay by a single day or a single month. When the day comes that He should speak, then He immediately speaks. If He delayed another few months, then some people would gradually withdraw. This is working according to people’s actual situations. He doesn’t delay at all or waste time, He pays special attention to everyone. Since He is saving people, He is responsible all the way to the end. But some people don’t live up to expectations, they slip and fall down. Before some people leave, the Holy Spirit especially moves them and urges them to stay. Some people are truly urged to stay but do not. God truly loves people greatly, but people are not worthy to let God love them. If God was not able to love people who withdraw, then it would turn to hatred, and He would completely ignore that kind of person. With regard to the steps and time-frame of the work, the length of the step, the amount of words said in the step, the tone of voice, the methods used in the step, and the corresponding truths to allow you to understand, all include His great thoughts and consideration and precise arrangement and planning. He is always using His wisdom to guide mankind, to provide for them, to serve them, and to cultivate them little by little and bring them to this day. Every person who has experienced these things currently has some understanding; even though I don’t discuss it, many people are able to; people keep a step by step process fresh in their memories. There are no words to describe the love in this. God loves people so deeply but people will never experience it thoroughly; this love is too deep and it is impossible to clearly explain with words; it is impossible to clearly explain it from the perspective of time. From the perspective of time, we are able to see how deep His love is for mankind; He gives especially meticulous consideration to small matters and does not allow time to go even a little too long. He is afraid that if time goes too long that people will withdraw and leave Him. His love holds people tightly and it does not let up at all.

from “Do You Understand God’s Love for Mankind?” in Records of Christ’s Talks

For every step of God’s work, there is a way that people should cooperate. God refines people so that they have confidence in the midst of refinements. God perfects people so that they have confidence to be perfected by God and are willing to accept His refinements and being dealt with and pruned by God. The Spirit of God works within people to bring them enlightenment and illumination, and to have them cooperate with Him and practice. God does not speak during refinements. He does not utter His voice, but there is still the work that people should do. You should uphold what you already have, you should still be able to pray to God, be close to God, and stand witness in front of God; this way you will fulfill your own duty. All of you should see clearly from God’s work that His trials of people’s confidence and love require that they pray more to God, and that they savor God’s words in front of Him more often. If God enlightens you and has you understand His will but you do not put it into practice at all, you will gain nothing. When you put God’s words into practice, you should still be able to pray to Him, and when you savor His words you should always seek in front of Him and be full of confidence in Him without being disheartened or cold. Those who don’t put God’s words into practice are full of energy during gatherings, but fall into darkness when they return home. There are some who don’t even want to gather together. So you must clearly see what duty it is that people should fulfill. You may not know what God’s will actually is, but you can perform your duty, you can pray when you should, you can put the truth into practice when you should, and you can do what people ought to do. You can uphold your original vision. This way, you will be more able to accept God’s next step of work. It’s a problem if you do not seek when God works in a hidden way. When He speaks and preaches during assemblies, you listen with enthusiasm, but when He does not speak you lack energy and retreat. What kind of person does this? This is someone who just goes with the flow. They have no stance, no testimony, and no vision! Most people are like that. If you continue on that way, one day when you come upon a great trial, you will descend into punishment. Having a stance is very important in God’s perfection of people. If you do not doubt a single step of God’s work, you fulfill man’s duty, you sincerely uphold what God has you put into practice, that is, you remember God’s exhortations, and no matter what He does now you do not forget His exhortations, have no doubt about His work, maintain your stance, uphold your testimony, and are victorious every step of the way, in the end you will be perfected into an overcomer by God.

from “You Ought to Maintain Your Devotion to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

In the midst of trials, even when you don’t know what God wants to do and what work He wants to accomplish, you should know that God’s intentions for mankind are always good. If you pursue Him with a true heart, He will never leave you, and in the end He will surely perfect you, and bring people to an appropriate destination. … In your practical experience, you must first know how to eat and drink God’s words and find what you should enter into and your shortcomings within His words, and seek entry in your practical experience. Take the portion of God’s words that should be put into practice and try to practice it. Eating and drinking God’s words is one aspect, the life of the church must also be maintained, you must have a normal spiritual life, and be able to hand over all of your current states to God. No matter how His work changes, your spiritual life should remain normal. … and no matter how great the trials, you cannot let go of your normal relationship with God. You should be able to pray, maintain your church life, and stay with brothers and sisters. When God tries you, you should still seek the truth. …

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… During refinements, you must enter in from a positive perspective and learn the lessons you should learn; when you pray to God and read His word, you should compare your own state to it, discover your shortcomings, and find that you have so many lessons to learn. The more sincerely you seek in the midst of refinements, the more you will find yourself to be inadequate. When you are experiencing refinements there are many issues that you encounter; you cannot see them clearly, you complain, you reveal your own flesh—only through this do you discover how great your corrupt disposition is.

from “You Ought to Maintain Your Devotion to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

While undergoing trials, it’s normal for people to be weak, or have negativity within them, or to lack clarity on God’s will or their path for practice. But in any case, you must have faith in God’s work, and not deny God, like Job. Although Job was weak and cursed the day of his own birth, he did not deny that all things in human life were bestowed by Jehovah, and that Jehovah is also the One to take it all away. No matter how he was tested, he maintained this belief. No matter what kind of refinement you undergo in your experiences from God’s words, God requires mankind’s faith. This way, what is perfected are people’s faith and aspirations. When you cannot touch or see it, it is under these circumstances that your faith is required. People’s faith is required for when something cannot be seen by the naked eye, and your faith is required for when you cannot let go of your own notions. When you are not clear on God’s work, what is required is your faith and that you take a firm stance and stand witness. … If you have lost hope in God, how will you be able to experience Him? Therefore, only when you have faith and you do not harbor doubts toward God, only when you have true faith in Him no matter what He does will He enlighten and illuminate you in your experiences, and only then will you be able to see His actions. These things are all achieved through faith, and faith is only achieved through refinement—faith cannot develop in the absence of refinement. What does faith refer to? Faith is the genuine belief and the sincere heart that humans should possess when they cannot see or touch something, when God’s work is not in line with human notions, when it is beyond human reach. This is the faith that I speak of. People are in need of faith during times of hardship and refinement, and along with faith comes refinement. These are inextricable. No matter how God works or what kind of environment you are in, you will be able to pursue life, pursue the development of God’s work in you, and pursue the truth. You will have an understanding of God’s actions and you will be able to act according to the truth. This is your genuine faith, and this shows that you have not lost hope in God. You will still seek the truth in refinement, you will be able to truly love God and will not develop doubts of Him. No matter what He does, you will still practice the truth to satisfy Him, and you will be able to deeply seek out His will and be considerate of His will. Only this is true faith in God. Before, when God said that you would reign as a king, you loved Him, and when He openly showed Himself to you, you pursued Him. But now God is hidden, you cannot see Him, and troubles have come upon you. At this time, do you lose hope in God? So at all times you must pursue life and seek to satisfy God’s will. This is called genuine faith. …

… When you face sufferings you must be able to not consider the flesh and not complain against God. When God hides Himself from you, you must be able to have the faith to follow Him, to maintain your previous love without allowing it to falter or disappear. No matter what God does, you must submit to His design, and be more willing to curse your own flesh than to complain against Him. When you are faced with trials you must satisfy God in spite of any reluctance to part with something you love, or bitter weeping. Only this can be called true love and faith. No matter what your actual stature is, you must first possess the will to suffer hardship as well as true faith, and you must have the will to forsake the flesh. You should be willing to personally endure hardships and suffer losses to your personal interests in order to satisfy God’s will. You must also have a heart of regretting yourself, that you weren’t able to satisfy God in the past, and be able to regret yourself now. Not a single one of these can be lacking and God will perfect you through these things. If you lack these conditions, you cannot be perfected.

from “Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The work of refinement is primarily to perfect people’s faith and in the end reach a state where you want to leave but you cannot, where some people are bereft of a shred of hope but they still have their faith, where people no longer have hope in their own future, and only at this time will God’s refinement conclude. Mankind still has not reached the stage of hovering between life and death—they have not tasted death, so the refinement is not at an end. Even those who were at the step of service-doers had not been refined to the utmost, but Job had been, with nothing to rely on. People must undergo refinements to the point that they have no hope and nothing to rely on—only then are they truly refinements. During the time of the service-doers, your heart was always quiet in front of God. No matter what He did and no matter what His will for you was, you always obeyed His arrangements and at the end of the road, you understood everything. Undergoing the trials of Job is also undergoing the trials of Peter. When Job was tested he stood witness, and in the end Jehovah was revealed to him. Only after he stood witness was he worthy of seeing the face of God. Why is it said: “I hide from the land of filth but show Myself to the holy kingdom”? That means that only when you are holy and stand witness can you have the dignity to see the face of God. If you cannot stand witness for Him, you do not have the dignity to see His face. If you retreat or complain against God in the face of refinements, failing to stand witness for Him and being Satan’s laughing stock, you will not gain the appearance of God. If you are like Job, who in the midst of trials cursed his own flesh and did not complain against God, and was able to detest his own flesh without complaining or sinning through his words, that is standing witness. When you undergo refinements to a certain degree and can still be like Job, utterly obedient in front of God and without other requirements of Him or your own notions, then God will appear to you.

from “Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Today, you are receiving a little refinement, but afterward you will truly be able to behold the deeds of God, and ultimately you will say: “God’s deeds are so wondrous!” These will be the words in your heart. Having experienced God’s refinement for a while (the trial of[a] service-doers and the times of chastisement), some people ultimately said: “Believing in God is really difficult!” This “difficult” shows that God’s deeds are unfathomable, that God’s work is possessed of great significance and value, and is highly worthy of being treasured by man. If, after I have done so much work, you had not the slightest knowledge, then could My work still have value? It will make you say: “Service to God is really difficult, the deeds of God are so wondrous, God truly is wise! He’s so lovely!” If, after undergoing a period of experience, you are able to say such words, then this proves that you have gained God’s work in you. One day, when you’re abroad to spread the gospel and someone asks you: “How is your faith in God?” you will be able to say: “God’s actions are so marvelous!” As soon as they see you say this, they’ll feel that there’s something within you and that God’s actions truly are unfathomable. This is truly bearing witness. You will say that God’s work is full of wisdom, and His work in you has truly convinced you and conquered your heart. You will always love Him because He is more than worthy of mankind’s love! If you can speak to these things, you can move people’s hearts. All of this is bearing witness. If you are able to be a resounding witness, to move people to tears, that shows that you truly are one who loves God. That’s because you are able to act as a witness of love for God and God’s actions can be expressed through you. And through your expression, other people can seek out His actions, experience God, and they’ll be able to stand steady in whatever environment they find themselves in. Only bearing witness this way is genuinely bearing witness, and this is exactly what is required of you now. You should say that God’s actions are extremely valuable and worthy of being treasured by people, that God is so precious and so abundant, He can not only speak, but even more He can refine people’s hearts, bring them enjoyment, and He can gain them, conquer them, and perfect them. From your experience you will see that God is very lovable. So how much do you love God now? Can you really say these things from your heart? When you are able to express these words from the depths of your heart you will be able to bear witness. Once your experience has reached this level you will be capable of being a witness for God, and qualified for it. If you don’t reach this level in your experience, then you will still be too far off. It’s normal for people to have weaknesses in refinement, but after refinement you should be able to say: “God is so wise in His work!” If you are truly able to take in practical recognition of this, it is precious, and your experience is valuable.

from “Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Faced with man’s state and his attitude toward God, God has done new work, allowing man to possess both knowledge of and obedience toward Him, and both love and testimony. Thus, man must experience God’s refinement of him, as well as His judgment, dealing and pruning of him, without which man would never know God, and would never be capable of truly loving and bearing witness to Him. God’s refinement of man is not merely for the sake of a one-sided effect, but for the sake of a multi-faceted effect. Only in this way does God do the work of refinement in those who are willing to seek the truth, in order that man’s resolve and love are made perfect by God. To those who are willing to seek the truth, and who yearn for God, nothing is more meaningful, or of greater assistance, than refinement such as this. God’s disposition is not so easily known or understood by man, for God, in the end, is God. At the end of the day, it is impossible for God to have the same disposition as man, and thus it is not easy for man to know His disposition. The truth is not inherently possessed by man, and is not easily understood by those who have been corrupted by Satan; man is devoid of the truth, and devoid of the resolve to put the truth into practice, and if he does not suffer, and is not refined or judged, then his resolve will never be made perfect. For all people, refinement is excruciating, and very difficult to accept—yet it is during refinement that God makes plain His righteous disposition to man, and makes public His requirements for man, and provides more enlightenment, and more actual pruning and dealing; through the comparison between the facts and the truth, He gives man a greater knowledge of himself and the truth, and gives man a greater understanding of God’s will, thus allowing man to have a truer and purer love of God. Such are God’s aims in carrying out refinement. All the work that God does in man has its own aims and significance; God does not do meaningless work, nor does He do work that is without benefit to man. Refinement does not mean removing people from before God, nor does it mean destroying them in hell. It means changing man’s disposition during refinement, changing his motivations, his old views, changing his love for God, and changing his whole life. Refinement is a real test of man, and a form of real training, and only during refinement can his love serve its inherent function.

from “Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Truly Love God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

God has now officially begun to perfect people. In order to be made complete, people must undergo the revelation, judgment, and chastisement of God’s words, and experience the trials and refinement of His words (such as the trial of service-doers). In addition, people must be able to withstand the trial of death. That is, someone who truly carries out God’s will can emit praise from deep in their heart in the midst of God’s judgment, chastisement, and trials, and is able to fully obey God and forsake themselves, thus loving God with a heart of sincerity, single-mindedness, and purity; such is a complete person, and it is also the work that God wants to do, and is what God wants to accomplish. People cannot draw conclusions lightly about God’s working methods, and they can only pursue entry into life. This is the foundation.

from “On the Steps of God’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Footnotes:

a. The original text omits “the trial of.”

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