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1. What is the truth? What is Bible knowledge and doctrine?

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XVII. One Must Fellowship Clearly on Discernment Between the Reality of the Truth and Bible Knowledge and Doctrine

1. What is the truth? What is Bible knowledge and doctrine?

What is the truth? What is Bible knowledge and doctrine?

Bible Verses for Reference:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jhn 1:1).

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us … full of grace and truth” (Jhn 1:14).

I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jhn 14:6).

Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth” (Jhn 17:17).

“He answered and said to them, Well has Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. However, in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things you do. And He said to them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition. … Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which you have delivered: and many such like things do you” (Mak 7:6–13).

Relevant Words of God:

The truth put into human language is man’s aphorism; humanity will never experience it fully, and humanity should live in reliance on it. A piece of truth can let all of humanity survive for thousands of years.

Truth is the life of God Himself, representing His own disposition, representing His own substance, representing everything within Him.

from “Do You Know What Truth Really Is?” in Records of Christ’s Talks

The truth is not formulaic, neither is it a law. It’s not dead—it’s life, it’s a living thing, and it’s the rule that a creature must follow and the rule a human must have in their life. This is something that you must understand more from experience. No matter what stage you have arrived at in your experience, you are inseparable from God’s word or the truth, and what you understand of God’s disposition and what you know of what God has and is are all expressed in God’s words; they are inextricably linked with the truth. God’s disposition and what He has and is themselves are the truth; the truth is an authentic manifestation of God’s disposition and what He has and is. It makes what God has and is concrete and expressly states it; it tells you more straightforwardly what God likes, what He doesn’t like, what He wants you to do and what He does not permit you to do, what people He despises and what people He delights in. Behind the truths that God expresses people can see His pleasure, anger, sorrow, and happiness, as well as His essence—this is the revealing of His disposition.

from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The truth is the most real of life’s aphorisms, and the highest of such aphorisms among all mankind. Because it is the requirement that God makes of man, and is the work personally done by God, thus it is called life’s aphorism. It is not an aphorism summed up from something, nor is it a famous quote from a great figure; instead, it is the utterance to mankind from the Master of the heavens and earth and all things, and not some words summed up by man, but the inherent life of God. And so it is called the highest of all life’s aphorisms.

from “Only Those Who Know God and His Work Can Satisfy God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Everything that God does is truth and life. The truth for mankind is something that they cannot lack in their lives, that they can never do without; you could also say that it’s the greatest thing. Although you can’t look at it or touch it, its importance to you cannot be ignored; it is the only thing that can bring rest to your heart.

from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Some people work and preach and, although on the surface it looks as though they are fellowshiping on God’s word, all they are talking about is the literal meaning of God’s word, but nothing substantive is mentioned. Their sermons are like teaching from a language textbook; God’s words are arranged item by item, aspect by aspect, and when they are done everyone sings their praises, saying: “This person possesses reality. They preached so well and in such detail.” After they are done preaching, they tell others to put it all together and send it out to everybody. Their actions become deception of others and all that they preach are fallacies. On the surface, it looks as though they are preaching only God’s word and it appears to conform to the truth. But with more careful discernment, you will see that it is nothing but letters and doctrines and false reasoning along with some human imaginings and notions as well as some portions that delimit God. Isn’t this kind of preaching an interruption of God’s work? It is service that opposes God.

from “Without the Truth It Is Easy to Offend God” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Your “summing up the truth” is not done so that people gain life or attain changes in their dispositions from the truth. Instead, it is for people to master some knowledge and doctrines from within the truth. They appear to have understood the purpose behind God’s work, when actually they have only mastered some words and doctrines. They don’t understand the implied meaning of the truth; it is no different from studying theology or reading the Bible. You compile these books or those materials, and then people possess this aspect of doctrine or that aspect of knowledge. They are first rate speakers of doctrines—but what happens when they are done speaking? People are then incapable of experiencing, they have no understanding of God’s work, nor do they have any understanding of themselves. Ultimately, all they will have gained are formulas and rules, and they can talk about those few things but nothing else. If God did something new, would you be able to match up all the doctrines that you know with that? Therefore, those things of yours are just rules and you are just having people study theology, not allowing them to experience the word of God or the truth. Those books that people compile can bring them only into theology and knowledge, into formulas, rules, and conventions. They cannot bring people before God or allow them to understand the truth or God’s will. You think that when they raise question after question, they then answer them, and outlines and summaries are written out, then your brothers and sisters will be able to easily understand them. You think that apart from being easy to remember these issues are clear at a glance, and that this is a great way of doing things. But what they are understanding is not the real implied meaning of the truth and does not match up with reality—it is just words and doctrines. So it would be better if you didn’t do these things at all. Doing this is leading people to understand and master knowledge. You bring others into religious doctrines, and have them follow and believe in God within religious doctrines. Isn’t that being just like Paul? You think that mastering knowledge of the truth is particularly important, and that learning passages of God’s words by heart, speaking about doctrines and discovering formulas within God’s words are all very important, but how people understand the word of God is not important at all. Therefore, you always want to systematize these things so that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, saying the same things, and talking about the same doctrines, so they have the same knowledge and keep the same rules—this is your objective. Your doing this appears to be for the sake of people gaining understanding, when on the contrary you have no idea that this is bringing people into the midst of rules that are outside of the truth of God’s words.

from “Without the Truth It Is Easy to Offend God” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Coming to a real understanding of the actual meaning in God’s word is no simple matter. Don’t just think that if you can interpret the literal meaning of God’s words, and if everyone says it’s good and gives you a thumbs-up, it counts as understanding God’s word. That is not the same as understanding God’s word. If you have gained some light from within God’s word and you have gotten a sense of the true significance of God’s word, if you can express what God’s will is in those words and what they will ultimately achieve, once this is all clear that counts as having some level of understanding of God’s word. So, understanding God’s word is not quite so simple. Just because you can give a flowery explanation of the letter of God’s word does not mean you understand it. No matter how much you can explain the letter of God’s word it is still man’s imagination and way of thinking—it’s useless! … If you interpret this literally or from your own thinking or imagination, then your understanding is not real no matter how eloquently you can interpret. It’s possible that you may even take meaning out of context and misinterpret God’s word, and that’s even more troublesome. So, the truth is primarily obtained by receiving enlightenment from the Holy Spirit through knowing God’s word. Understanding the literal meaning of His word or being able to explain it does not count as having gained the truth. If you only needed to interpret the letter of His word, then what would be the point of enlightenment from the Holy Spirit? In that case you would need to have certain level of education, and the uneducated would be in quite a predicament. God’s work is not something that can be comprehended by the human brain. A true understanding of God’s word depends mainly on enlightenment from the Holy Spirit; such is the process of gaining the truth.

from “Only by Pursuing the Truth Can You Obtain Changes in Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks

If you’ve read a lot of God’s word but only understand the meaning of the text and you do not have first-hand knowledge of God’s word through your practical experiences, you won’t know God’s word. As far as you are concerned, God’s word is not life, but just lifeless letters. And if you only hold fast to lifeless letters, you cannot grasp the essence of God’s word, nor will you understand His will. Only when you experience His word in your actual experiences will the spiritual meaning of God’s word open itself up to you, and it is only in experience that you can grasp the spiritual meaning of many truths, and only through experience that you can unlock the mysteries of God’s word. If you do not put it into practice, then no matter how clear His word, the only thing you’ve grasped hold of is empty letters and doctrines, which have become religious regulations to you. Isn’t this what the Pharisees did? If you practice and experience God’s word, it becomes practical to you; if you do not seek to practice it, then God’s word to you is little more than the legend of the third heaven. …

… Most people are satisfied to merely understand the text of God’s word and focus on equipping themselves with doctrines without experiencing its depth in practice; isn’t that the way of the Pharisees? How can the phrase “The word of God is life” be true for them, then? Only when man practices the word of God can his life truly blossom; it cannot grow simply by reading His word. If it is your belief that to understand God’s word is all that is needed to have life, to have stature, then your understanding is warped. Truly understanding God’s word occurs when you practice the truth, and you must understand that “only by practicing the truth can it ever be understood.”

from “Practice the Truth Once You Understand It” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

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Next:What are the consequences of relying on theological knowledge of the Bible in one’s faith?

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