XI Classic Words on Entering Into the Reality of the Truth
(XII) Words on Knowing God
149. Belief in God is the first step to knowing God. The process of advancing from this initial belief in God to the most profound belief in Him is the process of coming to know God, and the process of experiencing the work of God. If you only believe in God for the sake of believing in God, and not for the sake of coming to know Him, then there is no reality to your faith, and your faith cannot become pure—of this there is no doubt. If, during the process by which he experiences God’s work, 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 his belief in God, he will have completely gained God. The reason why God went to such great lengths to become flesh for the second time to do His work in person was so that man would be able to know Him and to see Him. Knowing God[a] is the final effect to be achieved at the conclusion of God’s work; it is the last requirement God makes of mankind. The reason why He does this is for the sake of His final testimony; it is in order that man may finally and completely turn to Him that He does this work. Man can only come to 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 knowledge of God. Only in this way can man satisfy God’s heart. Only by knowing God can man have true faith in God, and only by knowing God can he truly revere and obey God. Those who do not know God will never arrive at true obedience and reverence of God. Knowing God includes knowing His disposition, understanding His will, and knowing what He is. Yet whichever aspect one comes to know, each one requires man to pay a price, and requires the will to obey, without which no one would be able to continue following to the end.
Excerpted from “Only Those Who Know God Can Bear Testimony to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
150. What should you know about the practical God? The Spirit, the Person, and the Word make up the practical God Himself, and this is the true meaning of the practical God Himself. If you only know the Person—if you know His habits and personality—but do not know the work of the Spirit, or what the Spirit does in the flesh, and if you only pay attention to the Spirit, and the Word, and only pray before the Spirit, unknowing of the work of God’s Spirit in the practical God, then this yet proves that you do not know the practical God. Knowledge of the practical God includes knowing and experiencing His words, and grasping the rules and principles of the work of the Holy Spirit, and how the Spirit of God works in the flesh. So, too, does it include knowing that every action of God in the flesh is governed by the Spirit, and that the words He speaks are the direct expression of the Spirit. Thus, if you wish to know the practical God, you must primarily know how God works in humanity and in divinity; this, in turn, concerns the expressions of the Spirit, which all people engage with.
Excerpted from “You Should Know That the Practical God Is God Himself” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
151. God’s possessions and being, God’s essence, God’s disposition—all has been made known in His words to humankind. When he experiences God’s words, man will in the process of putting them into practice come to understand the purpose behind the words God speaks, and to understand the source and background of God’s words, and to understand and appreciate the intended effect of God’s words. For humanity, these are all things that man must experience, grasp, and attain in order to attain truth and life, grasp God’s intentions, become transformed in his disposition, and become able to obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements. At the same time that man experiences, grasps, and attains these things, he will gradually have gained an understanding of God, and at this time he will also have gained different degrees of knowledge about Him. This understanding and knowledge does not come out of something man has imagined or composed, but rather from what he appreciates, experiences, feels, and confirms within himself. Only after appreciating, experiencing, feeling, and confirming these things does man’s knowledge of God acquire content; only the knowledge that man obtains at this time is actual, real, and accurate, and this process—of attaining genuine understanding and knowledge of God through appreciating, experiencing, feeling, and confirming His words—is no other than true communion between man and God. In the midst of this kind of communion, man comes truly to understand and comprehend God’s intentions, comes truly to understand and know God’s possessions and being, comes truly to understand and know God’s essence, comes gradually to understand and know God’s disposition, arrives at real certainty about, and a correct definition of, the fact of God’s dominion over all creation, and gains a substantive bearing on and knowledge of God’s identity and position. In the midst of this kind of communion, man changes, step by step, his ideas about God, no longer imagining Him out of thin air, or giving rein to his own suspicions about Him, or misunderstanding Him, or condemning Him, or passing judgment on Him, or doubting Him. Thus, man will have fewer disputes with God, he will have fewer conflicts with God, and there will be fewer occasions on which man rebels against God. Conversely, man’s caring for and obedience to God will grow greater, and his reverence for God will become more real and more profound. In the midst of such communion, man will not only attain the provision of truth and the baptism of life, but he will at the same time also attain true knowledge of God. In the midst of such communion, man will not only be transformed in his disposition and receive salvation, but he will at the same time also garner the true reverence and worship of a created being toward God. Having had this kind of communion, man’s faith in God will no longer be a blank sheet of paper, or a promise offered up in lip service, or a form of blind pursuit and idolization; only with this kind of communion will man’s life grow toward maturity day by day, and only now will his disposition gradually become transformed, and his faith in God will, step by step, pass from a vague and uncertain belief into genuine obedience and caring, into real reverence, and man will also, in the process of following God, gradually progress from a passive to an active stance, from one who is acted upon into one who takes positive action; only with this kind of communion will man arrive at true understanding and comprehension of God, at true knowledge of God.
Excerpted from “Knowing God Is the Path to Fearing God and Shunning Evil” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
152. During his time following Jesus, Peter formed many opinions of Him and always judged Him from his own perspective. Although Peter had a certain degree of understanding of the Spirit, his understanding was somewhat unclear, which is why he said: “I must follow he who is sent by the heavenly Father. I must acknowledge he who is chosen by the Holy Spirit.” He did not understand the things Jesus did and lacked clarity about them. After following Him for some time, Peter grew interested in what He did and said, and in Jesus Himself. He came to feel that Jesus inspired both affection and respect; he liked to associate with Him and stay beside Him, and listening to Jesus’ words rendered him supply and aid. During the time he followed Jesus, Peter observed and took to heart everything about His life: His actions, words, movements, and expressions. He gained a deep understanding that Jesus was not like ordinary men. Although His human appearance was exceedingly ordinary, He was full of love, compassion, and tolerance for man. Everything He did or said was of great aid to others, and Peter saw and gained things he had never before seen nor possessed from Jesus. He saw that although Jesus had neither a grand stature nor any unusual humanity, He had a truly extraordinary and uncommon air about Him. Although Peter couldn’t fully explain it, he could see that Jesus acted differently from everyone else, for the things He did were very different from that of ordinary men. From his time in contact with Jesus, Peter also saw that His character was different from that of an ordinary man. He always acted steadily and never with haste, never exaggerated nor underplayed a subject, and He conducted His life in a way that revealed a character which was both normal and admirable. In conversation, Jesus spoke plainly and with grace, communicating always in a cheerful yet serene manner—and yet never did He lose His dignity while carrying out His work. Peter saw that Jesus was sometimes taciturn, while other times He spoke incessantly. Sometimes He was so happy that He appeared like a frisking and frolicking dove, and other times He was so sad that He did not talk at all, appearing laden with grief as though He were a worn and weary mother. At times He was filled with anger like a brave soldier charging off to kill an enemy or, on some occasions, He even resembled a roaring lion. Sometimes He laughed; other times He prayed and wept. No matter how Jesus acted, Peter grew to have boundless love and respect for Him. Jesus’ laughter filled him with happiness, His sorrow plunged him into grief, His anger frightened him, while His mercy, forgiveness, and the strict demands He made of people made him come to truly love Jesus and develop a true reverence and longing for Him. Of course, it was not until after Peter had lived alongside Jesus for a number of years that he gradually came to realize all of this.
Excerpted from “How Peter Came to Know Jesus” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
153. Peter followed Jesus for a number of years and saw much in Him that was not in other people. After following Him for a year, Peter was chosen by Jesus from among the twelve disciples. (Of course, Jesus did not speak this aloud, and others were not aware of it at all.) In life, Peter measured himself by everything Jesus did. Most notably, the messages that Jesus preached were etched in his heart. He was utterly dedicated and loyal to Jesus, and he never spoke any grievances against Him. As a result, he became Jesus’ faithful companion everywhere He went. Peter observed Jesus’ teachings, His gentle words, what He took for His food, His clothing, His shelter, and how He traveled. He emulated Jesus in every regard. He was never self-righteous, but cast off all that was outdated, following Jesus’ example in both word and deed. It was then that Peter felt that the heavens and earth and all things were in the hands of the Almighty and that, for this reason, he was without personal choice. Peter also assimilated all that Jesus was and used it as an example. Jesus’ life shows that He was not self-righteous in what He did; instead of bragging about Himself, He moved people with love. Various things showed what Jesus was, and for this reason, Peter emulated everything about Him. Peter’s experiences gave him an increasing sense of the loveliness of Jesus, and he said such things as, “I have searched for the Almighty throughout the universe, and I have seen the wonders of the heavens and earth and all things, and I thus have gained a profound sense of the Almighty’s loveliness. However, I had never had genuine love in my own heart, and I had never seen the loveliness of the Almighty with my own eyes. Today, in the eyes of the Almighty, I have been looked upon with favor by Him, and I have finally felt God’s loveliness. I have finally discovered that it is not just God’s having created all things that makes humanity love Him; in my daily life, I have found His boundless loveliness. How could it possibly be limited to what can be seen right now?”
Excerpted from “On the Life of Peter” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
154. When people don’t understand God and do not know His disposition, their hearts can never truly open up to Him. Once they have understood God, they will begin to understand and savor what is in His heart with interest and faith. When you understand and savor what is in God’s heart, your heart will gradually, bit by bit, open up to Him. When your heart opens up to Him, you will feel how shameful and contemptible your exchanges with God, your demands of God, and your own extravagant desires were. When your heart truly opens up to God, you will see that His heart is such an infinite world, and you will enter into a realm you have never experienced before. In this realm there is no cheating, there is no deception, there is no darkness, and no evil. There is only sincerity and faithfulness; only light and rectitude; only righteousness and kindness. It is full of love and care, full of compassion and tolerance, and through it you feel the happiness and joy of being alive. These things are what He will reveal to you when you open up your heart to God. This infinite world is full of God’s wisdom, and full of His omnipotence; it is also full of His love and His authority. Here you can see every aspect of what God has and is, what brings Him joy, why He worries and why He becomes sad, why He becomes angry…. This is what every single person can see who opens up their heart and allows God to come in. God can only come into your heart if you open it up to Him. You can only see what God has and is, and you can only see His will for you, if He has come into your heart. At that time, you will discover that everything about God is so precious, that what He has and is is so worthy of treasuring. Compared to that, the people that surround you, the objects and events in your life, and even your loved ones, your partner, and the things you love, are hardly worth mentioning. They are so small, and so lowly; you will feel that no material object will ever be able to draw you in again, and they cannot get you to pay any price for them again. In God’s humility you will see His greatness and His supremacy; moreover, in something He had done that you believed to be quite small, you will see His infinite wisdom and His tolerance, and you will see His patience, His forbearance, and His understanding of you. This will produce in you a love for Him. On that day, you will feel that mankind is living in such a filthy world, that the people by your side and the things that happen in your life, and even those you love, their love for you, and their so-called protection or their concern for you are not even worth mentioning—only God is your beloved, and it is only God that you treasure the most. When that day comes, I believe that there will be some people who say: God’s love is so great, and His essence is so holy—in God there is no deceit, no evil, no envy, and no strife, but only righteousness and authenticity, and everything that God has and is should be longed for by humans. Humans should strive for and aspire to it. On what basis is mankind’s ability to achieve this built? It is built on the basis of humans’ understanding of God’s disposition, and their understanding of God’s essence. So understanding God’s disposition and what He has and is, is a lifelong lesson for every person, and it’s a lifelong goal pursued by every person who strives to change their disposition, and strives to know God.
Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
155. If you want to know God and truly get to know and understand Him, then don’t just be restricted to the three stages of God’s work, and don’t just be restricted to the stories of the work God had once performed. If you try to know Him that way, then you are confining God to a certain limit. You’re seeing God as too insignificant. What influences would such consequences bring to you? You would never be able to know God’s wondrousness and supremacy, and you would never be able to know God’s power and omnipotence and the scope of His authority. Such an understanding would impact your ability to accept the truth that God is the Ruler of all things, as well as your knowledge of God’s true identity and status. In other words, if your understanding of God is limited in scope, what you can receive is also limited. That is why you must expand the scope and open your horizons. Whether it is the scope of God’s work, God’s management, and God’s rule, or all things ruled over and managed by God, you should get to know it all and get to know God’s actions therein. Through such a way of understanding, you will unconsciously feel that God is ruling over, managing and supplying all things among them. At the same time, you will also truly feel that you are a part of all things and a member of all things. As God supplies all things, you also accept God’s rule and supply. This is a fact no one can deny.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique VIII” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
156. Knowledge of God’s authority, God’s power, God’s own identity, and God’s substance cannot be achieved by relying on your imagination. Since you cannot rely on imagination to know the authority of God, then in what way can you achieve a true knowledge of God’s authority? Through eating and drinking the words of God, through fellowship, and through experiencing the words of God, you will have a gradual experience and verification of God’s authority and thus you will gain a gradual understanding and incremental knowledge of it. This is the only way to achieve the knowledge of God’s authority; there are no shortcuts. Asking you not to imagine is not the same as making you sit passively to await destruction, or stopping you from doing anything. Not using your brain to think and imagine means not using logic to infer, not using knowledge to analyze, not using science as the basis, but instead appreciating, verifying, and confirming that the God you believe in has authority, confirming that He holds sovereignty over your fate, and that His power at all times proves Him to be the true God Himself, through the words of God, through the truth, through everything that you encounter in life. This is the only way that anyone can achieve an understanding of God. Some say that they wish to find a simple way of achieving this aim, but can you think of such a way? I tell you, there’s no need to think: There are no other ways! The only way is to conscientiously and steadfastly know and verify what God has and is through every word that He expresses and everything that He does. This is the only way to know God. For what God has and is, and everything of God, is not hollow and empty—but real.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
157. However much understanding of God there is in people’s hearts determines how much of a position He holds in their hearts. However great the degree of knowledge of God is in their hearts is how great God is in their hearts. If the God that you know is empty and vague, then the God you believe in is also empty and vague. If the God that you know is limited within your own scope, then your God is a very small God and has nothing to do with the true God. Thus, knowing God’s practical actions, knowing the reality of God and His omnipotence, knowing the true identity of God Himself, knowing what He has and is, knowing what He has demonstrated among all things—these are very important to every single person who pursues knowledge of God. These have a direct bearing on whether people can enter into the reality of the truth. If you limit your understanding of God to just words, if you limit it to your own little experiences, God’s grace that you count, or your little testimonies to God, then I say that the God you believe in is absolutely not the true God Himself, and it can also be said that the God you believe in is an imaginary God, not the true God. This is because the true God is the One that rules over everything, that walks among everything, that manages everything. He is the One that holds the fate of all of mankind—the One that holds the fate of everything. The work and actions of the God that I am talking about are not just limited to a small portion of people. That is, it’s not limited to just the people who currently follow Him. His actions are demonstrated among all things, in the survival of all things, and in the laws of change of all things.
If you cannot see or recognize any actions of God among all things, then you cannot bear witness to any of His actions. If you cannot bear any witness for God, if you continue to speak of the small so-called God that you know, that God who is limited to your own ideas, and is within your narrow mind, if you continue to speak of that kind of God, then God will never praise your faith. When you bear witness for God, if you only use how you enjoy God’s grace, accept God’s discipline and His chastening, and enjoy His blessings in your witness for Him, that is hugely inadequate, and is far from satisfying Him. If you want to bear witness for God in a way that is in line with His will, bear witness for the true God Himself, then you must see what God has and is from His actions. You must see God’s authority from His control of everything, and see the truth of how He provides for all of mankind. If you only acknowledge that your daily food and drink and your necessities in life come from God, but you don’t see the truth that God provides for all of mankind by means of all things, that He leads all of mankind by means of His rule of all things, then you will never be able to bear witness for God. Now you understand all of this, right? What’s My purpose in saying all of this? It’s so that you don’t take this lightly, so that you don’t believe that these topics I’ve spoken about are irrelevant to your own personal entry into life, and so that you don’t take these topics as just a type of knowledge or doctrine. If you listen to this with that kind of attitude, you won’t gain a single thing. You will lose this great opportunity to know God.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique IX” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
158. People often say that it is not an easy thing to know God. I, however, say that knowing God is not a difficult matter at all, for God frequently allows man to witness His deeds. God has never ceased His dialogue with mankind; He has never concealed Himself from man, nor has He hidden Himself. His thoughts, His ideas, His words and His deeds are all revealed to mankind. Therefore, so long as man wishes to know God, he can come to understand and know Him through all sorts of means and methods. The reason why man blindly thinks that God has intentionally avoided him, that God has intentionally hidden Himself from humanity, that God has no intention of allowing man to understand and know Him, is that he does not know who God is, nor does he wish to understand God; even more so, he is not concerned with the Creator’s thoughts, words or deeds…. Truthfully speaking, if one only uses their idle time to focus upon and understand the Creator’s words or deeds, and pay a little attention to the Creator’s thoughts and the voice of His heart, it will not be difficult for them to realize that the Creator’s thoughts, words and deeds are visible and transparent. Likewise, it will take little effort to realize that the Creator is among man at all times, that He is always in conversation with man and the entirety of creation, and that He is performing new deeds every day. His substance and disposition are expressed in His dialogue with man; His thoughts and ideas are revealed completely in His deeds; He accompanies and observes mankind at all times. He speaks quietly to mankind and all of creation with His silent words: I am in the heavens, and I am amongst My creation. I am keeping watch; I am waiting; I am at your side…. His hands are warm and strong; His footsteps are light; His voice is soft and graceful; His form passes and turns, embracing all of mankind; His countenance is beautiful and gentle. He has never left, nor has He vanished. Day and night, He is mankind’s constant companion.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
159. Until, one day, you will feel that the Creator is no longer a riddle, that the Creator has never been hidden from you, that the Creator has never concealed His face from you, that the Creator is not at all far from you, that the Creator is no longer the One that you constantly long for in your thoughts but that you cannot reach with your feelings, that He is really and truly standing guard to your left and right, supplying your life, and controlling your destiny. He is not on the remote horizon, nor has He secreted Himself high up in the clouds. He is right by your side, presiding over your all, He is everything that you have, and He is the only thing you have. Such a God allows you to love Him from the heart, cling to Him, hold Him close, admire Him, fear to lose Him, and be unwilling to renounce Him any longer, disobey Him any longer, or any longer to evade Him or put Him at a distance. All you want is to care for Him, obey Him, requite all that He gives you, and submit to His dominion. You no longer refuse to be guided, provided for, watched over, and kept by Him, no longer refuse what He dictates and ordains for you. All you want is to follow Him, walk along by His side, all you want is to accept Him as your one and only life, to accept Him as your one and only Lord, your one and only God.
Excerpted from “Knowing God Is the Path to Fearing God and Shunning Evil” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. The original text reads “The work of knowing God.”