The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment (Part One)
When he was being chastised by God, Peter prayed, “O God! My flesh is disobedient, and You chastise me and judge me. I rejoice in Your chastisement and judgment, and even if You do not want me, in Your judgment I behold Your holy and righteous disposition. When You judge me, so that others may behold Your righteous disposition in Your judgment, I feel content. If it can show forth Your disposition, and allow Your righteous disposition to be seen by all creatures, and if it can make my love of You purer, so that I can attain the image of one who is righteous, then Your judgment is good, for such is Your gracious will. I know that there is still much in me that is rebellious, and that I am still not fit to come before You. I wish for You to judge me even more, whether through a hostile environment or great tribulations; no matter how You judge me, to me it is precious. Your love is so profound, and I am willing to lay myself at Your mercy without the slightest complaint.” This is Peter’s knowledge after he experienced the work of God, and is also a testimony to his love of God. Today, you have already been conquered—but how is this conquest expressed in you? Some people say, “My conquest is the supreme grace and exaltation of God. Only now do I realize that the life of man is hollow and without significance. Living is so pointless, I’d rather be dead. Though man spends his life rushing about, producing and raising generation after generation of children, man is ultimately left with nothing. Today, only after being conquered by God have I seen that there is no value to living in this way; it really is a meaningless life. We may as well die and be done with it!” Can such people who have been conquered be gained by God? Can they become specimens and models? Such people are a lesson in passiveness, they have no aspirations, and do not strive to improve themselves! Even though they count as having been conquered, such passive people are incapable of being made perfect. At the near end of his life, after he had been made perfect, Peter said, “O God! If I were to live a few more years, I would wish to achieve a purer and deeper love of You.” When he was about to be nailed to the cross, in his heart he prayed, “O God! Your time has now arrived, the time You prepared for me has arrived. I must be crucified for You, I must bear this testimony to You, and I hope that my love can satisfy Your requirements, and that it can become purer. Today, to be able to die for You, and be nailed to the cross for You, is comforting and reassuring to me, for nothing is more gratifying to me than to be able to be crucified for You and satisfy Your wishes, and to be able to give myself to You, to offer up my life to You. O God! You are so lovely! Were You to allow me to live, I would be even more willing to love You. As long as I am alive, I will love You. I wish to love You more deeply. You judge me, and chastise me, and try me because I am not righteous, because I have sinned. And Your righteous disposition becomes more apparent to me. This is a blessing to me, for I am able to love You more deeply, and I am willing to love You in this way even if You do not love me. I am willing to behold Your righteous disposition, for this makes me more able to live out a life of meaning. I feel that my life now is more meaningful, for I am crucified for Your sake, and it is meaningful to die for You. Yet still I do not feel satisfied, for I know too little of You, I know that I cannot completely fulfill Your wishes, and have repaid You too little. In my life, I have been incapable of returning my entirety to You; I am far from that. As I look back at this moment, I feel so indebted to You, and I have but this moment to make up for all of my mistakes and all the love that I have not repaid You.”
Man must pursue to live out a life of meaning, and should not be satisfied with his current circumstances. To live out the image of Peter, he must possess the knowledge and experiences of Peter. Man must pursue things that are higher and more profound. He must pursue a deeper, purer love of God, and a life that has value and meaning. Only this is life; only then will man be the same as Peter. You must focus on being proactive toward your entry on the positive side, and must not submissively allow yourself to backslide for the sake of momentary ease while ignoring more profound, more specific, and more practical truths. Your love must be practical, and you must find ways to free yourself from this depraved, carefree life that is no different from an animal’s. You must live out a life of meaning, a life of value, and you must not fool yourself, or treat your life like a toy to be played with. For everyone who aspires to love God, there are no unobtainable truths, and no justice for which they cannot stand firm. How should you live your life? How should you love God, and use this love to satisfy His desire? There is no greater matter in your life. Above all, you must have such aspirations and perseverance, and should not be like those spineless weaklings. You must learn how to experience a meaningful life, and experience meaningful truths, and should not treat yourself perfunctorily in that way. Without you realizing it, your life will pass you by; and after that, will you have another opportunity to love God? Can man love God after he is dead? You must have the same aspirations and conscience as Peter; your life must be meaningful, and you must not play games with yourself! As a human being, and as a person who pursues God, you must be able to carefully consider how you treat your life, how you should offer yourself to God, how you should have a more meaningful faith in God, and how, since you love God, you should love Him in a way that is more pure, more beautiful, and more good. Today, you cannot only be content with how you are conquered, but must also consider the path that you will walk in the future. You must have aspirations and the courage to be made perfect, and should not always think yourself incapable. Does the truth have favorites? Can the truth deliberately oppose people? If you pursue the truth, can it overwhelm you? If you stand firm for justice, will it knock you down? If it is truly your aspiration to pursue life, can life elude you? If you are without the truth, that is not because the truth does not acknowledge you, but because you stay away from the truth; if you cannot stand fast for justice, that is not because there is something wrong with justice, but because you believe it is out of line with the facts; if you have not gained life after pursuing it for many years, that is not because life has no conscience toward you, but because you have no conscience toward life, and have driven away life; if you live in the light, and have been incapable of gaining the light, that is not because it is impossible for the light to shine upon you, but because you have not paid any attention to the existence of the light, and so the light has quietly departed from you. If you do not pursue, then it can only be said that you are worthless trash, and have no courage in your life, and do not have the spirit to resist the forces of darkness. You are too weak! You are unable to escape the forces of Satan that lay siege to you, and are only willing to lead this kind of safe and secure life and die in ignorance. What you should achieve is your pursuit of being conquered; this is your bounden duty. If you are content to be conquered, then you drive out the existence of the light. You must suffer hardship for the truth, you must give yourself to the truth, you must endure humiliation for the truth, and to gain more of the truth you must undergo more suffering. This is what you should do. You must not throw away the truth for the sake of a peaceful family life, and you must not lose your life’s dignity and integrity for the sake of momentary enjoyment. You should pursue all that is beautiful and good, and should pursue a path in life that is more meaningful. If you lead such a vulgar life, and do not pursue any objectives, do you not waste your life? What can you gain from such a life? You should forsake all enjoyments of the flesh for the sake of one truth, and should not throw away all truths for the sake of a little enjoyment. People like this have no integrity or dignity; there is no meaning to their existence!
God chastises and judges man because it is required by His work, and, moreover, because it is needed by man. Man needs to be chastised and judged, and only then can he achieve the love of God. Today, you have been utterly convinced, but when you encounter the slightest setback you’re in trouble; your stature is still too small, and you still need to experience more of such chastisement and judgment in order to achieve a deeper knowledge. Today, you have some reverence for God, and you fear God, and you know He is the true God, but you do not have a great love of Him, much less have you achieved a pure love; your knowledge is too superficial, and your stature is still insufficient. When you truly encounter an environment, you still have not borne witness, too little of your entry is proactive, and you have no idea how to practice. Most people are passive and inactive; they only secretly love God in their hearts, but have no way of practice, nor are they clear about what their goals are. Those who have been made perfect not only possess normal humanity, but are possessed of truths that exceed the measures of conscience, and that are higher than the standards of conscience; they not only use their conscience to pay back God’s love, but, more than that, they have known God, and have seen that God is lovely, and worthy of man’s love, and that there is so much to love in God that man cannot help but love Him. The love of God of those who have been made perfect is in order to fulfill their own personal aspirations. Theirs is a spontaneous love, a love that asks for nothing in return, and which is not a trade. They love God because of nothing other than their knowledge of Him. Such people care not whether God bestows graces upon them, and are content with nothing more than to satisfy God. They do not strike bargains with God, nor do they measure their love of God by conscience: You have given to me, thus I love You in return; if You do not give to me, then I have nothing for You in return. Those who have been made perfect always believe that God is the Creator, that He carries out His work upon them, and that, since they have this opportunity, and condition, and qualification to be able to be made perfect, their pursuit should be to live out a life of meaning, and they should satisfy Him. It is just like that which was experienced by Peter: When he was at his weakest, he prayed to God and said, “O God! Regardless of the time or place, You know that I always remember You. No matter the time or place, You know that I want to love You, but my stature is too small, I am too weak and powerless, my love is too limited, and my sincerity toward You is too meager. Compared to Your love, I am simply unfit to live. I wish only that my life is not in vain, and that I can not only repay Your love, but, moreover, that I can devote all I have to You. If I can satisfy You, then as a creature, I shall have peace of mind, and will ask for nothing more. Although I am weak and powerless now, I will not forget Your exhortations, and will not forget Your love. Now I am doing nothing more than repaying Your love. O God, I feel awful! How can I give back the love in my heart to You, how can I do all I can, and be able to fulfill Your wishes, and be able to offer all that I have to You? You know the weakness of man; how can I be worthy of Your love? O God! You know I am of small stature, that my love is too meager. How can I do the best that I can in this kind of environment? I know I should repay Your love, I know that I should give all that I have to You, but today my stature is too small. I ask that You give me strength, and give me confidence, so that I will be more able to possess a pure love to devote to You, and more able to devote all that I have to You; not only will I be able to repay Your love, but more able to experience Your chastisement, judgment and trials, and even more severe curses. You have allowed me to behold Your love, and I am incapable of not loving You, and though I am weak and powerless today, how could I forget You? Your love, chastisement and judgment have all caused me to know You, yet I also feel incapable of fulfilling Your love, for You are so great. How can I devote all that I have to the Creator?” Such was Peter’s request, yet his stature was too inadequate. At this moment, he felt as if a knife were being twisted in his heart and he was in agony; he knew not what to do under such conditions. Yet he still continued to pray: “O God! Man is of childish stature, his conscience is feeble, and the only thing I can achieve is to repay Your love. Today, I know not how to satisfy Your desires, or do all I can, or give all I have, or how to devote all I have to You. Regardless of Your judgment, regardless of Your chastisement, regardless of what You bestow upon me, regardless of what You take away from me, make me free from the slightest complaint toward You. Many times, when You chastised me and judged me, I grumbled to myself, and was incapable of achieving purity, or of fulfilling Your wishes. My repayment of Your love was born out of compulsion, and at this moment I hate myself even more.” It was because he sought a purer love of God that Peter prayed in this way. He was seeking, and entreating, and, furthermore, he was recriminating himself, and confessing his sins to God. He felt indebted to God, and felt hatred of himself, yet he was also somewhat sad and passive. He always felt thus, as if he was not good enough for God’s wishes, and unable to do his best. Under such conditions, Peter still pursued the faith of Job. He saw how great had been the faith of Job, for Job had seen that his all was bestowed by God, and it was natural for God to take everything from him, that God would give to whoever He wished—such was the righteous disposition of God. Job had no complaints, and could still praise God. Peter also knew himself, and in his heart he prayed, “Today I should not be content with repaying Your love using my conscience and with however much love I give back to You, because my thoughts are too corrupt, and because I am incapable of seeing You as the Creator. Because I am still unfit to love You, I must accomplish the ability to devote all that I have to You, which I would do willingly. I must know all that You have done, and have no choice, and I must behold Your love, and be able to speak Your praises, and extol Your holy name, so that You may gain great glory through me. I am willing to stand fast in this testimony to You. O God! Your love is so precious and beautiful; how could I wish to live in the hands of the evil one? Was I not made by You? How could I live under the domain of Satan? I’d prefer that my entire being live amid Your chastisement. I am unwilling to live under the domain of the evil one. If I can be made pure, and can devote my all to You, I am willing to offer up my body and mind to Your judgment and chastisement, for I detest Satan, and am unwilling to live under its domain. Through Your judgment of me, You show forth Your righteous disposition; I am happy, and have not the slightest complaint. If I am able to perform the duty of a creature, I am willing that my entire life be accompanied by Your judgment, through which I will come to know Your righteous disposition, and will rid myself of the influence of the evil one.” Peter always prayed thus, always sought thus, and reached a higher realm. Not only was he able to repay God’s love, but, more importantly, he also fulfilled his duty as a creature. Not only was he not accused by his conscience, but he was also able to transcend the standards of conscience. His prayers continued to go up before God, such that his aspirations were ever higher, and his love of God was ever greater. Though he suffered agonizing pain, still he did not forget to love God, and still he sought to attain the ability to understand God’s will. In his prayers were uttered the following words: I have accomplished nothing more than the repayment of Your love. I have not borne testimony to You before Satan, have not freed myself from the influence of Satan, and still live amid the flesh. I wish to use my love to defeat Satan, and shame it, and thus satisfy Your desire. I wish to give my entirety to You, to not give the slightest bit of myself to Satan, for Satan is Your enemy. The more he sought in this direction, the more he was moved, and the higher his knowledge of these matters. Without realizing it, he came to know that he should free himself of the influence of Satan, and should completely return himself to God. Such was the realm he attained. He was transcending the influence of Satan, and ridding himself of the pleasures and enjoyments of the flesh, and was willing to experience more profoundly both God’s chastisement and His judgment. He said, “Even though I live amid Your chastisement, and amid Your judgment, regardless of the hardship that entails, still I am unwilling to live under the domain of Satan, still I am unwilling to suffer Satan’s trickery. I take joy from living amid Your curses, and am pained by living amid the blessings of Satan. I love You by living amid Your judgment, and this brings me great joy. Your chastisement and judgment is righteous and holy; it is in order to cleanse me, and even more to save me. I would prefer to spend my entire life amid Your judgment to be under Your care. I am unwilling to live under Satan’s domain for a single moment; I wish to be cleansed by You, to suffer hardship, and am unwilling to be exploited and tricked by Satan. I, this creature, should be used by You, possessed by You, judged by You, and chastised by You. I should even be cursed by You. My heart rejoices when You are willing to bless me, for I have seen Your love. You are the Creator, and I am a creature: I should not betray You and live under the domain of Satan, nor should I be exploited by Satan. I should be Your horse, or ox, instead of living for Satan. I’d rather live amid Your chastisement, without physical bliss, and this would bring me enjoyment even if I were to lose Your grace. Though Your grace is not with me, I enjoy being chastised and judged by You; this is Your best blessing, Your greatest grace. Though You are always majestic and wrathful toward me, still I am incapable of leaving You, still I cannot love You enough. I’d prefer to live in Your home, I’d prefer to be cursed, chastised, and smitten by You, and am unwilling to live under the domain of Satan, nor am I willing to rush and busy about only for the flesh, much less am I willing to live for the flesh.” Peter’s love was a pure love. This is the experience of being made perfect, and is the highest realm of being made perfect, and there is no life that is more meaningful. He accepted God’s chastisement and judgment, he treasured God’s righteous disposition, and nothing about Peter was more precious. He said, “Satan gives me material enjoyments, but I do not treasure them. God’s chastisement and judgment comes upon me—in this I am graced, in this I find enjoyment, and in this I am blessed. Were it not for God’s judgment I would never love God, I would still live under the domain of Satan, would still be controlled by it, and commanded by it. If that were the case, I would never become a real human being, for I would be incapable of satisfying God, and would not have devoted my entirety to God. Even though God does not bless me, leaving me without comfort inside, as if a fire is burning within me, and with no peace or joy, and even though God’s chastisement and discipline is never apart from me, in God’s chastisement and judgment I am able to behold His righteous disposition. I take delight in this; there is no more valuable or meaningful thing in life. Though His protection and care have become ruthless chastisement, judgment, curses and smiting, still I take enjoyment in these things, for they can better cleanse me, can change me, can bring me closer to God, can make me more able to love God, and can make my love of God purer. This makes me able to fulfill my duty as a creature, and takes me before God and away from the influence of Satan, so that I no longer serve Satan. When I do not live under the domain of Satan, and am able to devote everything I have and all that I can do to God, without holding anything back—that will be when I am fully satisfied. It is God’s chastisement and judgment that has saved me, and my life is inseparable from God’s chastisement and judgment. My life on earth is under the domain of Satan, and were it not for the care and protection of God’s chastisement and judgment, I would have always lived under the domain of Satan, and, moreover, I would not have had the opportunity or means to live out a life of meaning. Only if God’s chastisement and judgment never leaves me, will I be able to be cleansed by God. Only with the harsh words and righteous disposition of God, and God’s majestic judgment, have I gained supreme protection, and lived in the light, and gained the blessings of God. To be able to be cleansed, and free myself from Satan, and live under the dominion of God—this is the greatest blessing in my life today.” This is the highest realm experienced by Peter.
Such are the circumstances that man must attain after being made perfect. If you cannot achieve this much, then you cannot live out a life of meaning. Man lives amid the flesh, which means he lives in a human hell, and without God’s judgment and chastisement, man is as filthy as Satan. How could man be holy? Peter believed that chastisement and judgment by God was man’s best protection and greatest grace. Only through chastisement and judgment by God could man awaken, and hate the flesh, and hate Satan. God’s strict discipline frees man from the influence of Satan, it frees him from his own little world, and allows him to live in the light of God’s presence. There is not better salvation than chastisement and judgment! Peter prayed, “O God! As long as You chastise and judge me, I will know that You have not left me. Even if You do not give me joy or peace, and make me live in suffering, and inflict countless chastenings on me, as long as You do not leave me my heart will be at ease. Today, Your chastisement and judgment has become my best protection and my greatest blessing. The grace You give me protects me. The grace You bestow upon me today is a manifestation of Your righteous disposition, and is chastisement and judgment; moreover, it is a trial, and, more than that, it is a life of suffering.” Peter was able to put aside the pleasures of the flesh and seek a deeper love and greater protection, because he had gained so much grace from God’s chastisement and judgment. In his life, if man wishes to be cleansed and achieve changes in his disposition, if he wishes to live out a life of meaning, and fulfill his duty as a creature, then he must accept God’s chastisement and judgment, and must not allow God’s discipline and God’s smiting to depart from him, so he can free himself from the manipulation and influence of Satan and live in the light of God. Know that God’s chastisement and judgment is the light, and the light of man’s salvation, and that there is no better blessing, grace or protection for man. Man lives under the influence of Satan, and exists in the flesh; if he is not cleansed and does not receive God’s protection, then man will become ever more depraved. If he wishes to love God, then he must be cleansed and saved. Peter prayed, “God, when You treat me kindly I am delighted, and feel comfort; when You chastise me, I feel even greater comfort and joy. Although I am weak, and endure untold suffering, although there are tears and sadness, You know that this sadness is because of my disobedience, and because of my weakness. I weep because I cannot satisfy Your desires, I feel sorrow and regret because I am insufficient for Your requirements, but I am willing to attain this realm, I am willing to do all I can to satisfy You. Your chastisement has brought me protection, and has given me the best salvation; Your judgment eclipses Your tolerance and patience. Without Your chastisement and judgment, I would not enjoy Your mercy and lovingkindness. Today, I see all the more that Your love has transcended the heavens and excelled all. Your love is not just mercy and lovingkindness; even more than that, it is chastisement and judgment. Your chastisement and judgment has given me so much. Without Your chastisement and judgment, not a single person would be cleansed, and not a single person would be able to experience the love of the Creator. Though I have endured hundreds of trials and tribulations, and have even come close to death, such suffering[a] has allowed me to truly know You and gain supreme salvation. If Your chastisement, judgment and discipline were to depart from me, then I would live in darkness, under the domain of Satan. What benefits does the flesh of man have? If Your chastisement and judgment were to leave me, it would be as if Your Spirit had forsaken me, as if You were no longer with me. If that were so, how could I go on living? If You give me sickness, and take my freedom, I can continue living, but were Your chastisement and judgment to leave me, I would have no way to go on living. If I were without Your chastisement and judgment, I would have lost Your love, a love that is too deep for me to put into words. Without Your love, I would live under the domain of Satan, and would be unable to see Your glorious face. How, say You, could I continue living? Such darkness, such a life, I could not stand to endure. Having You with me is like seeing You, so how could I leave You? I implore You, I beg You not to take my greatest comfort from me, even if it is just a few words of reassurance. I have enjoyed Your love, and today I cannot be away from You; how, say You, could I not love You? I have shed many tears of sorrow because of Your love, yet I have always felt that a life such as this is more meaningful, more able to enrich me, more able to change me, and more able to allow me to attain the truth that should be possessed by the creatures.”
a. The original text reads “it.”