Chapter 26. Sermons and Fellowship About God’s Word “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” (XI)
The Ten Degrees of True Faith Required to Achieve the Fear of God and Shunning of Evil
The true faith required to achieve the fear of God and shunning of evil can be divided into ten degrees, or ten levels. Specifically, they are as follows: The most basic standard, or the lowest level, of faith is merely admitting that God exists, just like the unbelievers’ conviction about the existence of Heaven. This is simply a vague feeling that there is a God. This is the first degree of faith, the smallest level of faith. If, upon this basis, one believes that the heavens and earth and all things were created by God, that this is absolutely true, and that the creation of them was not a natural occurrence, this is the second degree of faith. Many people in religion have achieved this second degree of faith, and it isn’t much higher than that conviction of those unbelievers. Do such people have faith? Yes. The second degree of it, but it’s too small, and barely worth mentioning! Some people are certain that mankind was created by God, that God has always guided and supplied mankind, and that only God can save mankind from sins. This is the third degree of faith. This is another level higher; do such people have faith? Yes, the third degree of it. Is such faith great or small? (Small.) In religion, many people have this degree of faith. They believe that God created the heavens and earth and all things, that man was created by God, that God has been guiding mankind since the Age of Law, and that only God can save mankind from sins. This is the level of faith of those in religion, the third degree of faith. Upon this degree of faith we can find another degree, the faith that only the Creator is the one true God, and that other gods are all false gods, evil spirits behaving evilly to corrupt mankind. This is the fourth degree of faith. People at this level of faith have some discernment, they know who the true God is and what false gods are, they know what evil spirits are, they know that only the Creator is the one true God, and they know that Satan and evil spirits can only corrupt and devour mankind, and cannot save mankind. This is the fourth degree of faith. People in religion also possess the fourth degree of faith. At the fifth degree of faith, people have come to know that God controls and rules over all things, and that the fates of nations, peoples, and individuals have been planned and preordained by God. This level of faith is large, this is the fifth degree of faith. Is their faith greater than that of those in religion? At least one degree greater. Such people see that God commands all and rules over everything, and say, “This universe, and everything in it, are truly ruled over by God! The fate of every nation and people, right down to the fate of every individual, is part of God’s plan, and was preordained by God!” They are able to recognize this fact, and their faith is the fifth degree of faith. Next, at the sixth degree of faith, one knows that all mankind has is part of Heaven’s plan, that the fate of everyone was preordained by God, and that everything a person gains is granted by God. This is the sixth degree of faith, and is close to the faith of Job. We read that Job said in his faith, “Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). He recognized that all man has is granted by God. Mere sweat and effort are not enough, things must be granted to you by God, and if God does not grant them, you could tire yourself to death and never gain it. Job saw this matter clearly. Everything that man gains is given to him by God, and upon this foundation we can find the next degree of faith, the seventh degree, which is knowing that God’s righteous disposition must not be offended, that God has mercy and love, as well as righteousness and majesty, and that while believing in God, one may receive good as well as adversity, thereby being able to fear God and shun evil. This is the faith of Job, the seventh degree of faith. What degree does your faith reach? Has it reached the seventh degree? This is a pinnacle of faith. Job’s faith reached the seventh degree! If we look at degrees of faith higher than Job’s, what is the eighth degree of faith? It is recognizing that Satan is the ringleader of all evil that corrupts mankind and that the great red dragon is the embodiment of Satan, which allows you to see the true state of the battle between good and evil in the spiritual realm. This is the eighth degree of faith. Once you see clearly the state of the battle in the spiritual realm, recognize that the great red dragon is the embodiment of Satan, and see that those in power are tools Satan uses to corrupt people and are Satan’s influence of darkness, is this not a great degree of faith? Ordinary people lack penetration into these facts, and this is a greater degree of faith than Job’s. On this foundation, we can find yet another degree of faith, which is firmly believing that Christ is the truth, the way, and the life, and is the practical God incarnate, and therefore determining to follow and love the practical God with all your heart. This is the ninth degree of faith. Firmly believing that Christ is the truth, the way, and the life and is the practical God, and therefore forsaking everything to follow Christ, being unable to leave Him even for a single moment, and genuinely loving Him, the practical God, this is the ninth degree of faith. Finally, the tenth degree of faith is seeing that God’s word accomplishes everything and living in God’s word is living before God, and finally living by the truth and knowing God completely. This is the tenth degree of faith. Whoever has this degree of faith has been perfected, just like Peter!
What do you think of how we’ve divided the faith into these ten levels, these ten degrees, of faith? Do you understand them? (Yes.) Can you apply them properly to yourselves? What degree does your faith reach? Can you be certain of which level it belongs to? The faith of some people doesn’t even reach the fourth degree. They can’t even discern between the true God and false gods, and can be deceived by evil spirits. Such people are pitiable. Some people can see that God commands and rules over all things, that the fates of nations, peoples, and individuals are all controlled by God, and that no individual can escape from God’s orchestration and plan. Seeing this clearly, these people know their fate. At the sixth degree of faith, people know that all they have is given by God, and that human labor alone is not enough, just as the sayings go, “Man may plant, but Heaven determines the harvest” and “Man proposes, Heaven disposes.” Once a person sees these facts clearly, it is easy for him to obey Heaven’s will and no longer go against it or disobey it. If someone knows that God watches while man acts, and in all things, he can be obedient to the will of Heaven, doing what he can and leaving the rest to Heaven, then such a man is sensible, and he can submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, know his place, and know what duties to perform. In doing so, he has achieved staying within his limits, and this is something required by the sixth degree of faith. At the seventh level of faith, a person knows that God’s righteous disposition must not be offended. He knows that God has mercy and love, as well as righteousness and majesty, that while believing in God, one may receive good as well as adversity, and therefore he can fear God and shun evil. This is the faith of Job. Once people achieve the faith of Job, they are surely able to attain salvation. The seventh degree of faith is the standard for attaining salvation, and the ninth and tenth degrees are the levels required for perfection. Is it reasonable to divide faith into degrees and levels as we have? Absolutely reasonable. Then can you apply them to yourselves? Can you find the degree of your faith? If you can, you know the stage of your entry into life, whether your faith is great or small, and what you should pursue.
If you haven’t achieved Job’s level of faith, how should you pursue? This is a critical issue. Do you have penetration into this matter? When we usually talk about pursuing truth, what are we referring to? We mean that a person must understand the many truths contained in the words expressed by God. The key to whether your faith can grow is whether in God’s words you can discover the truths, can seek and find the truths, and can grasp the truths and gain the truths. What results can you achieve by pursuing the truth? First, your faith in God will increase; second, you will have a clear knowledge of God; third, you will have love for God; fourth, you will have an absolute obedience to God. This is to say, the more a person understands the truth, the greater his faith becomes; the more a person understands the truth, the clearer is his knowledge of God; the more a person understands the truth, the more absolute is his obedience to God; the more a person understands the truth, the more sincere is his love for God. This is absolutely true. Then I ask you, if we want to ensure our faith becomes greater than Job’s, what should be our path of practice? We should pursue the truth, and understand many truths in God’s words to achieve knowledge of God. This is the most powerful method, and this is the path of practice.
The more a person understands of the truth, the greater his faith becomes. Why is this? What is the relationship between faith and understanding of the truth? Let’s give a simple example. Why do those in the religious world condemn The Church of Almighty God? What is the root of their condemnation? They do not know God’s work, and they misinterpret the Bible, so they condemn The Church of Almighty God. If they knew God’s work, would they condemn The Church of Almighty God? Not only would they not condemn it, they would scramble to join it and accept God’s work. Yet some people who have accepted God’s work develop notions about God the moment they read God’s words of judgment and chastisement. Why is this? Because they don’t understand the truth, and they don’t understand why God judges and chastises corrupt mankind, that is, they can’t see clearly God’s good intentions hidden within this fact. If the day comes when these people understand God’s good intentions hidden within His judgment and chastisement, they will be able to accept and obey His words of judgment and chastisement. Isn’t that right? So, is it easy for people to judge and condemn God’s work when they don’t understand the truth? When people don’t understand the truth, it is easy for them to resist God, and they are unable to obey God. Once they understand the truth, why does their faith increase? Upon what basis is that faith built? Many people merely admit God exists, but do not know God. Can such people obey God? They have no way to obey God. They don’t know how to obey God, they don’t know what God is doing or what God’s requirements for man are, and without that knowledge, they are unable to obey God. If people understand much of the truth, know what God is doing in the present, know what God’s requirements for man are, and know the final results achieved by God’s work, they will have a path to practice obedience to God, and it will be easy for them to do so. So, the more people understand of the truth, the more they can genuinely obey God, and the more they are able to bear a beautiful, resounding testimony for God. With too little understanding of the truth, people are unable to practice these realities of the truth.
What is the relationship between faith in God and knowledge of God? Does someone’s faith represent his knowledge of God? Do you have penetration into this matter? Some people lack it. Some people think, “Your faith in God represents your knowledge of God! If your faith reaches the fifth degree, you have a 50% knowledge of God, and if your faith reaches the seventh degree, you have a 70% knowledge of God.” Is it correct to say this? Absolutely correct. If you have little faith, you unquestionably also have little understanding or knowledge of God; if your faith is great, you naturally also have great understanding and knowledge of God. If your understanding and knowledge of God is too little, will you be capable of great obedience to God? That’s absolutely impossible. If you understand God too little, your obedience to Him won’t be much. You will obey God as much as you understand Him. This is an iron law. It’s just as a child treats his parents; a child is as filial as however much he understands of his parents’ intentions, and that is absolutely the truth. One day, when the child grows up, at over 30, after the child has experienced many things and has completely understood his parents, then he will be entirely filial. This is natural law.
Now I ask you, if someone fears God, is that related to his faith in God? What degree of faith is achieved by those who fear God? The seventh degree. One cannot achieve the fear of God without this degree of faith. In the Age of Law, Job could be said to have the highest level of knowledge of God. Even Abraham lacked his level of knowledge, and among those used by God in the Age of Law, not even Moses had Job’s knowledge of God. In the Age of Law, only Job was perfected by God. If we must ask, who were the saints in the Age of Law? Job and no others, because only Job could be called a saint. This is unquestionable. True saints must be ones who have been perfected by God, who are acknowledged by God. Without God’s acknowledgement, anyone who is called a saint is a fake. The princes and kings of devils raised up by the world of Satan are deceivers. They are false saints. True saints are those who have been perfected by God. In the Age of Law, Job was the only man who had been perfected by God, and his knowledge of God and faith in God were the greatest in the Age of Law. He achieved the seventh degree of faith. In the Age of Grace, Peter’s faith was the highest, and it reached the ninth degree. In the Age of Kingdom, God will perfect a group of people and their faith will reach the tenth degree. Are you willing to be perfected by God in the Age of Kingdom? (Yes.) Then pursue the truth diligently. When you achieve the tenth degree of faith by pursuing the truth, you will see that God’s word accomplishes everything, and that God means what He says, and what God means is always accomplished, and what God accomplishes is eternal. Such a faith is great! Anything God speaks has been fulfilled, it is fact, and it will immediately appear before your eyes. Watch, and you will see that the great red dragon will vanish in just a few years, as well as this world, all kinds of filthy demons and evil spirits will vanish. They will vanish into smoke and never exist again. God is omnipotent, and once God says something, it is done, which is an irrevocable fact and an act of the Almighty. To believe this is called faith. Do you have such a faith as this? You should dare say, “Yes! God is perfecting my faith right now!” If so, you are on the right track! Some people say, “At the moment I do not have it.” If you say this, fear not, because in the future you will have it. You must have faith. If you have faith and say, “I can increase in faith, I can make progress, and I know how to pursue the truth in such a way that I will be perfected,” it is enough. What kind of people have no faith at all? Those who do not love the truth. When such people read God’s word, their brain feels addled, just as their brain feels addled when they hear my sermons and when they hear the fellowship on the truth. And it’s trouble when this happens! It’s a disease that’s not easy to treat! How do you feel after you hear my fellowship? Does it feel like your brain is addled? (No.) Then what does it feel like? (Like we have faith.) Hearing my words gives you enjoyment and clarity, doesn’t it? My words are practical, and from my heart, which is why the more you hear my words, the more you feel hope and faith. This is to walk the path into the light, and the more you walk it, the brighter your heart. Now do you still fear the persecution from the great red dragon? Not even if it would kill you, because all things are in God’s hands, aren’t they? Having a perfect faith requires us to pursue the truth. Without pursuing the truth, a person’s faith cannot grow. We must see this matter clearly.
Do you think there are people who believe in God in a muddled manner and grow in their faith without realizing it? Can that happen? (No.) Those who believe in God in a muddled manner not only do not grow in their faith, their faith even grows weaker over time. The weaker your faith grows, the easier it is for you to become negative and regress. At first, you’ll feel a lack of energy, and the moment you lack energy, your faith becomes weak. When you are asked, “How is your faith? Do you feel energetic?” if you answer “Yes,” your faith hasn’t weakened. If you answer “No,” then your faith has weakened. Do you feel energetic? (Yes.) If you are full of strength, then your faith is strong. Today, many people expend themselves for God with a vigorous strength that pervades them. They can’t help themselves, so they give their all! They offer up to God all of their energy and talent, expending themselves for God. They exert all their strength to expend themselves for God. Such people’s faith is strong. For every year such people experience God’s work, their faith grows another degree, and that is impressive! After one year of experience, their faith grows one degree. After three years of experience, their faith grows three degrees. Those among them who have believed in God for two and a half years, three and a half years, or five and a half years may only have the third degree of faith now, but after three years of experience, they may reach the sixth degree of faith, and some of them may even reach the seventh degree of faith. If your faith can grow by one degree a year then it grows fastest. With the right experience, your faith can grow by one degree a year at most, or more slowly, at a rate of one degree every two years.
Do those of strong faith fear poverty? Those who fear poverty have no faith. One must not constantly be in fear of poverty, and there is nothing fearful about poverty. Do those of strong faith fear suffering? They do not fear suffering. Suffering is a good thing, and it can make you feel enriched and consoled in your heart! After you’ve suffered, you will know your spiritual stature, you will know your endurance, and you will know your willpower. When you perform your duty, you will be able to pay a price and expend your painstaking effort without reserve. You will be time-tested and know your measure! You will know, on a given day, in a given situation, what your own strength will be like, you will know the outermost limits of your strength, and so you will know clearly how effective you will be in your duties. If your strength allows you to achieve the best possible results when you perform a particular duty, you will be someone who possesses ability and the truth. This is powerful! When someone with the truth makes a video or a film, many people can benefit! When someone with the truth writes an article, it can benefit and enlighten many people! When someone with the truth gives a sermon, many people can be helped to grow in life! Those with the truth possess ability. If you can pay a price as you perform your duties, and achieve the best possible results, your faith will grow more quickly. Just how quickly? By one degree per year. For example, if some of you fear suffering, then you are to make a breakthrough in suffering. You should say, “I don’t fear suffering, I want to suffer, and let’s see what will happen if I suffer for a year! Will it kill me? Let’s see how God will bless me! How much will I benefit from it?” Go ahead and experience it. Some people fear poverty, and think, “I’ve forsaken everything to expend myself for God. What should I do if I suffer poverty? What should I do if I have nothing to eat?” If that happens, simply experience poverty, see just how much poverty you will suffer, and see if relying on God can feed you and allow you to continue living! If you have this faith, if you can overcome this obstacle, if you can make a breakthrough on this fatal weakness of yours, at the place where you are weakest, then your faith will grow in a year. Fear of many things is produced when people lack faith. They always fear something or another. Some fear suffering, some fear poverty, some fear illness, some fear imprisonment, and some fear death. Fearing these things proves you lack faith, that you cannot risk everything, and that you are a sluggard, a coward, incompetent, and merely a useless mouth to feed. Those with faith have the courage to risk everything, those without cower in fear for their lives! Is this not the case? Then do you dare risk everything? Some say, “I haven’t found a spouse, so I’ll just stop looking and expend myself for God! I’ll risk everything!” Do you dare risk that? (Yes.) That means you have faith. Some say, “I can’t bear to leave my parents, so I’ll forsake them and expend myself for God. Let’s see what will happen to me! Let’s see how much I can gain!” Do those without faith dare to risk everything? Those who lack faith can’t give up everything. Can those without faith accomplish great deeds? Not at all.
Look at the trials Job endured. He had all his wealth, his children, and his servants stripped away, but did he fall? He stood firm and maintained his integrity all the same, and remained on the path of fearing God and shunning evil. And how was Job’s faith? Job was a great man of faith, a giant of faith. None could topple him, and none could break him. At that time, even if Satan had smitten Job’s flesh to kill him, Job would not have been defeated. Do you believe that? He wouldn’t have been defeated. He cursed the day he was born, which means he was ready to die. He didn’t care. This was the mettle of Job’s faith! We have seen that, in mainland China, when some of our brothers and sisters were tormented by the great red dragon badly, they gave their lives to God, and they would rather die than betray Him or become Judases. This is faith. There are some brothers and sisters today who have forsaken everything for God, who have forsaken their homes, quitted their jobs, dissolved their marriages, and then left to perform their duties. One could say they are vagrants, and that they are refugees fleeing persecution, but these refugees do not forget to perform their duties under such circumstances! Is this not faith? When they flee persecution, they do not live on just to remain alive, but instead they still think of their duties to God; they have left life and death out of consideration. What is that called? Faith! How is faith produced? Is it God’s word that produces faith in man? God works His word into man, where it produces a loving heart and faith, which is to say that the more you understand and gain of the truth in God’s word, the stronger your faith and the greater your love for God. These are facts accomplished by God’s word, and no one can deny them. Those who do not pursue the truth have no way to grow in their faith. It remains the same, mere belief and acknowledgement, and they can never absolutely obey God, truly follow God, or properly perform their duties, because their faith never grows. They do not love the truth, and because they do not love the truth, their faith never grows. Only those who pursue the truth see constant growth in their faith. Some people’s faith has already grown to the level of Job’s. Some of those who have forsaken their homes and careers have divorced their husbands (wives), and left their parents and children at home without seeing them for years! Others haven’t seen them for up to over a decade. Are such people hiding when they are away from home? They are fulfilling their duties and expending themselves for God. Such faith is exactly the same as Job’s.
As we understand more of the truth, we also learn to shun more evils. Many people are able to discern false leaders, antichrists, heresies, and absurd theories, they are able to see clearly the true situation of the battle in the spiritual realm, and they are able to correctly treat their brothers and sisters and separate between love and hate. Such people are able to fear God and shun evil. Such people have principles in treating others and can treat others fairly, and can discern evil people, evil spirits, and antichrists and reject them. Such people can love and help the brothers and sisters who have committed transgressions, no longer judge their brothers and sisters, do not speak carelessly of matters they do not understand, and have genuine obedience. If any one of them can see who among their brothers and sisters has strong points and can model himself on them, observe them, learn from them, and coordinate with them, if he can discuss it with others and seek the truth no matter what he does, and if when practicing the truth, he can grasp the principles, this kind of person will be able to shun more evils. As the fear of God in his heart grows stronger, he is able to shun more and more evils, and gradually, he will become perfect. Those who are perfect commit ever fewer transgressions, and this means that they become more and more holy. Now do you understand? What do believers in God rely on to become holy? Pursuing the truth, which means to experience the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, experience pruning and dealing, experience trials and refinement, and finally come to understand much of the truth, and thereby get rid of all evil deeds, commit ever fewer transgressions, and gradually become holy and become a perfect person. When you have become a perfect person, you will be a saint, a righteous person, someone who has been perfected by God. So, I ask you, is experiencing God’s work in the last days the way to become a saint? This is the true way to be perfected into a righteous person by God! So, the more we experience God’s judgment and chastisement, the more we gain purification, and finally, when we have become holy and been perfected by God, we will have become saints and righteous people! And at that time, we will be living out the most significant life of all.