4. The Four Stages of Life Experience for Being Saved and Perfected
God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days began with conquering “service-doers.” First, God used words of judgment and revelation to try service-doers. Only after all of God’s chosen people completely entered into experiencing the trial of service-doers did God officially begin His work of judgment and chastisement in the last days. Therefore, the life experiences of God’s chosen people began in the stage of doing service. Only after they experienced the trial of service-doers were they qualified to become people of the kingdom and they began entering the second stage of life experience—the stage of fulfilling duties. What is the significance of experiencing the trial of service-doers? Those who have experienced it all know that there is profound significance in this: Only by experiencing the trial of service-doers can one enter onto the right track of believing in God. Because people are so deeply corrupt, no matter what they do, they harbor their intentions, and their belief in God is no exception. People all believe in God to obtain blessings and to escape catastrophes and death. No one believes in God to pursue truth and attain salvation. If people believed in God according to their notions, then they would not be able to enter onto the right track of believing in God. They wouldn’t be able to be saved, but instead would be eliminated. After experiencing the trial of service-doers, hearts that were desirous of good fortune and blessings were pierced by the sharp sword of God’s word. It was very painful and people suffered great refinement, but their extravagant desires subsequently faded away and their desire to obtain blessings was shattered. They would do service for God willingly, and they totally gave up on their past pursuit of “entering the kingdom, obtaining eternal life, and wielding power.” Their enthusiasm for obtaining blessings waned, and they had no choice but to bow their heads and accept their fate, saying: “Who made us children of the great red dragon?” The trial of service doers indeed resolved people’s desire to believe in God in order to obtain blessings. It also caused people to clearly see their own status and substance as children of the great red dragon and their pitiful state after being corrupted by Satan. Only then did they know that they were unworthy of blessings and enjoying God’s grace. After God’s chosen people were completely conquered, ashamed and defeated, and suffered the pain of refinement, God spoke, changing the status of the service-doers to be people of the kingdom. At that time, they all shed excited tears, unable to express their remorse. Their status of being the people of the kingdom made them feel humiliated and ashamed. Their attitudes toward believing in God improved greatly after this, and only then did they begin to get onto the right track of believing in God and formally accept God’s work of judgment and chastisement. This transition at the beginning is highly significant and is truly something that those experiencing it can never forget! While experiencing the trial of service-doers, people all raised their heads and looked to heaven with tears in their eyes and inexpressible suffering in their hearts. It was truly painful, but now they remember it as an incomparable sweetness. This trial brought about a major transformation in them, which has benefited them greatly. Experiencing the trial of service-doers is really a fortunate and blessed event! God’s work of conquering and saving people in the last days is extremely significant, and each stage tries, refines, reveals, and transforms people. The work is solely for the purpose of saving and perfecting people.
Those who experience God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days are completely able to attain salvation and be perfected. If we look at the stages of mankind’s life experience for being saved and perfected, it can be reasonably divided into four stages. The first stage is the stage of doing service, the second stage is the stage of fulfilling duties, the third stage is the stage of submitting to God, and the fourth stage is the stage of bearing witness to God. The first and the second stage of life experience require around three years individually, the third stage—the stage of submitting to God—requires around five years, and the fourth stage, the stage of bearing witness to God requires around seven years. Of course, this is referring to people who pursue the truth more ardently than others. If God gives special trials and refinement in a special context and environment, then that would be a different matter, and it would break the normal time frame rule of life experiences. It is impossible for people to fathom God’s work. The inner meaning of life experience refers to the transformation process of people’s life disposition while experiencing God’s work. Only those who diligently pursue the truth are able to attain this kind of outcome. Just like the wheat and the tares growing together on the same plot of ground: When the wheat begins to grow ears the tares are still tares and will be weeded out. Believers who are not fond of the truth are just like the tares: They have no life experiences. They can’t move past the stage of doing service, and in the end, the majority of them will be weeded out. Ultimately, only the loyal service-doers are able to serve to the end and survive. Those who are fond of the truth and who pursue the truth have long entered the second and third stages of life experience. Among those who enter into life experiences, only those honest ones who have a sense of justice, those who truly love God and do their utmost to pursue the truth will eventually be able to enter the fourth stage—the stage of bearing witness to God. This is the highest realm of life experience and is the stage of being perfected by God. Only those who enter and finish the stage of bearing witness to God are completely perfected, suitable for God’s use, and are entirely worthy of being witnesses of Christ. Of course, they can be regarded as ones who know God, truly love God, have been obtained by God, truly submit to God, are loyal to God, and are God’s elite troops who are in tune with Christ. They are people who are intimate with God and of the same heart and mind as God. There are some perfected people who are like Peter, but the majority of them are honest people who truly love God and are of ordinary caliber. Regardless of which stage in life experience people who pursue the truth to be saved are in, they must all work diligently and pay the price in order to enter it. Without price, the outcome cannot be achieved. This is in full compliance with the principle of fair competition, which proves that God treats everyone with righteousness and that God does not favor people.
Below I will fellowship about the specific states for entering each stage of life experience.
1. The first stage of life experience—the stage of doing service
The stage of doing service is primarily the period when people first begin believing in God. These people only do service to obtain blessings, and rely on their enthusiasm to get things done. They are basically unaware of their responsibility as a created being to fulfill their duties, and are full of natural corruptions. They don’t understand the true significance of believing in God to the slightest degree, and their conduct is driven by their corrupt intentions, which in substance is an act of rebelliousness and resistance against God and cannot be accepted by God at all. This is all determined by the fact that they believe in and do service to God only to obtain blessings. Because mankind is so corrupt, they only know how to live for themselves. Anything that is to their own advantage is acceptable and as long as blessings are obtained, it is OK to them. Their hearts have no desire to worship God, no one seeks the answers to why they live and how they can live a meaningful life, they don’t have any purpose in life, their hearts are full of corruptions, and all their thoughts are totally evil. Therefore, they believe in God and do service to obtain blessings, to stand out from the pack, and to satisfy their own selfish desires. They do service for God’s family against their will in exchange for attaining the blessings of escaping catastrophes and death. This is the basic state of people who are just beginning their faith in God. Everyone is more or less the same in this regard and there is no big difference between them, although some people are more enthusiastic and sincere in their faith than others when they first begin to believe in God. Because the corrupt dispositions of those who have not been conquered by God’s words haven’t been broken down or eliminated, they hold onto deeply rooted notions of believing in God to obtain blessings and to survive catastrophes. So their efforts for God’s house are just a kind of transaction: They want to pay a small price to gain great blessings or they give a lot but only in exchange for honor and prestige. This intention to obtain blessings originates from people’s nature and is something from Satan that is deep-rooted. Without experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement, without much pruning and dealing, without suffering the refinement of several large trials (such as the trial of service-doers, the trial of the times of chastisement, and the trial of death), people will have a hard time changing their desire for blessings and their inclination toward making deals. These large trials are very beneficial for people. The transformation of people’s corrupt dispositions starts from changing their desire for blessings and inclination toward making deals, and of course they must rely on pursuing the truth and cooperating in the working of the Holy Spirit in order to attain this transformation. People’s corrupt nature of resisting God is just like a stubborn fortress: Without God’s stringent words blasting it, this satanic fortress would be very difficult to breach. People’s desires to obtain blessings and inclination toward making deals are the first barrier on the right path of believing in God. Once this most difficult barrier is broken, people’s faith in God will undergo a great change. This takes place after people completely experience the trial of service-doers, the trial of the times of chastisement, and the trial of death. That’s when their desire for blessings and inclination toward making deals are beginning to collapse. Their viewpoint toward their belief in God will subsequently transform, and as if waking up from a dream, they will suddenly understand that it is the law of heaven and earth that people believe in God, and it is the law of heaven and earth that created mankind worship God and fulfill their duties. As long as people have a conscience and reason, they should fulfill their duties. At this time, people’s state will undergo a greater transformation. From the trial of service-doers to the trial of the times of chastisement to the trial of death—just three short years of experience—people’s desire for blessings and inclination toward making deals will be fundamentally uprooted. Because their views on their belief in God have transformed, their life disposition will have subsequently changed. They will be willing to do their very best, and as long as they are able to satisfy God and comfort His heart, that is enough. They will all detest their much resistance to God in the past, their causing God great sorrow, and their being deeply corrupted by Satan. Now that they have received God’s great salvation, they should reciprocate God’s love. If they are unable to reciprocate God’s love, it shows that they don’t have a conscience or humanity. All this is certainly a beginning to a transformation in one’s life disposition and this transformation brings one’s life experience to the second stage—the stage of fulfilling duties.
Those who are in the fourth stage of life experience still have some remaining corruption, and when extraordinary trials befall them some of that corruption will be revealed. Of course, they still have many more trials to experience and they must continue to be cleansed and cured. Each trial brings a different harvest for them, and they are all capable of transforming some of their corruption. Moreover, they are able to understand that each trial is a blessing from God, within each trial is a “gift” that God sends them, and that they will continue until everything that is not in conformance with God becomes clean. Therefore, the more trials people undergo, the more truths they will obtain and the more abundant their lives will be. Ultimately, they will attain great abundance. It can be said that hundreds of trials have to be borne in the life experience stage of bearing witness to God, because people’s corrupt natures have deep roots. They can’t be resolved after only a few years of experience and a few great trials. No one can extricate themselves from the trials set by God. They simply need to keep striving for the truth, praying often to seek enlightenment and illumination, better understanding their own corruption and deficiencies, reading and pondering God’s words more, and striving their best to serve and satisfy God. This level of cooperation is acceptable. One should believe everything is in God’s hands and that God rules over everything forever. With this true faith they will be able to endure to the end and be perfected. The lesson of understanding God is endless, and the transformation of one’s disposition is also endless. The more people understand the truth, the more they realize how much they lack, so the pursuit of the truth is also endless. People who pursue the truth have joy and happiness in their pursuit of the truth and never get bored of it, because the more they pursue the truth, the more they understand God and the brighter and clearer their hearts become. This feels especially enriching and enjoyable.
After experiencing God’s work of perfection while in the life experience stage of bearing witness to God, people will have had a fundamental understanding of God’s words and work, and their point of view will have changed drastically. They will have clearly seen that all of corrupt mankind live in evil and ridiculousness, that they have no light, and that they are unable to extricate themselves from it. They will be able to see God’s marvelous works among all of His creations in the heavens and on the earth, and they will see the significance of all God’s creations and the wisdom and omnipotence of God behind them. Therefore, they will be able to clearly see through the world, through mankind, and through life. They will be able to obtain a substantive understanding of Satan, evil spirits’ work, Satan’s schemes, as well as of the antichrists and wicked people of all varieties. Moreover, they will be able to reach the point that they will no longer be deceived by Satan or enticed and taken advantage of by devils and wicked people. And they will be able to differentiate between the positive and the negative. All these are attained as a result of their true knowledge of God’s words. Therefore, they are able to use the truth to resolve all types of difficulties and issues, are completely able to lead people into the reality of the words of God. It can be said that they have become usable by God, and they are completely competent as leaders in God’s family. Therefore, only those who have been perfected are usable by God, and only those who have truly obtained the truth are usable by God. If those who serve God have obtained the truth, and are able to use the truth to resolve issues and to lead people, then they are truly in the stage of serving and bearing witness to God. They are completely able to “steer the ship” in their service to God and in their leadership. God does not have to worry about them, and is able to feel at ease using them. Only this kind of person is considerate of God’s will and is able to share God’s anxiety, pain, His restlessness and His wants. And his service is in accordance with God’s will in all respects. Only this kind of person is God’s confidant, who is in complete conformance with God’s will, and is gained by God.
There are two main types of people who are in the fourth stage of life experience, the stage of bearing witness to God: One type is the Peters, who have good caliber and working capability, and thus are able to be made great use of by God. The other type is those who have average caliber and don’t have strong working capability. Even though they cannot be made great use of by God, they are numbered among those who have transformed their life dispositions, and they all understand God, truly love God, and are loyal to God. These people are at least people of God, and they obtain God’s blessings all the same. Clearly there are different categories of people who are perfected by God: Some people who are perfected are able to be made great use of by God, while others who are perfected by God are only able to be used by God. The majority of those who are perfected are people of God. For instance, in the parable Jesus gave of the “Ten Talents,” the servant who was given 5 talents gained another 5 talents and earned the lord’s reward; the servant who was given 2 talents gained another 2 talents and also earned the lord’s reward; but the “wicked and slothful” servant who was given 1 talent went and buried his silver and was punished by the lord. This shows that God is righteous toward everyone and is not concerned whether or not people have great or lowly caliber. As long as people have the will and resolve to pursue the truth and pursue being perfected, then they are able to be perfected.
The above-mentioned concerns the general states of the four stages of life experience. All the stages of life experience are different from one another. In order to allow people to see the differences in each stage more clearly, the states of each stage can be summarized as follows: The stage of doing service (the first stage of believing in God) is when people believe in God but still hold on to the intention to obtain blessings and make deals with God (inevitably involving hostility and testing), which is unable to be accepted by God at all. Therefore, this is called the stage of doing service. This is also the initial period of following Almighty God. It is a transitional stage of beginning to truly repent and get on the right track of faith in God after experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement. In the stage of fulfilling duties, people let go of their desire to obtain blessings after they understand the truth of believing in God and no longer do service just to obtain blessings or make deals. They are willing to fulfill their duties as created beings and begin to formally walk on the path of being saved through faith in God, which means completely being on the right track of faith in God. Because of these manifestations, God acknowledges the fact that they are fulfilling their duties, and while they are fulfilling their duties they come to understand some fundamental truths about faith in God. They come to truly understand the state of their own corruption, they begin to enter the stage of life experience and gain the first footholds for obtaining salvation. The stage of submitting to God is the stage of truly understanding God’s work of saving and perfecting people, seeing the true human life, beginning to truly offer one’s self to God and expending one’s self for God, beginning to serve God and moving toward receiving salvation and being perfected. It is also the stage of truly experiencing God’s words, beginning to understand all aspects of the truth, having visions of God’s work, entering into the training of the kingdom, and beginning to walk on the path to being perfected. The stage of bearing witness to God is the stage where those who have the will and resolve to pursue the truth, who have the sense of justice and who sincerely love God, walk Peter’s path to perfection, accept all kinds of trials, and have a true transformation of their life disposition. This is also where people begin to experience entering the right track of serving and bearing witness to God, as well as where they begin to completely enter the reality of the truth. These are the true states of the four stages of life experience, and the significant differences among them. God is righteous with everyone, and whether or not people are able to be perfected is determined by how they pursue the truth, how they accept and submit to God’s work, and how much of a price they are willing to pay. God does not give people preferential treatment, and the truth is impartial toward anyone; the more one works, the more one reaps, the less one works, the less one reaps, and if one doesn’t work at all, he won’t reap anything. Those who pursue the truth should know that there is so much significance in obtaining the truth!
The outcomes that God designates for people are completely based on whether or not they have the truth, and so we can see clearly that God’s righteous disposition is righteous toward everyone. As to in which life stage people are while experiencing God’s work, it is determined based on their understanding of the truth, and how they have entered into the truth and to what degree. It is not based on how many years they have believed in God, how many hardships they have endured, or how much they have preached the gospel. Strictly speaking, those who have not obtained the truth have no life experience, and they are stuck in the stage of doing service. Only those who have obtained the truth understand God and have reality. Only those who have obtained the truth are able to achieve good results in their duties and service to God, serving God according to His will, and are able to be used by God. Only those believers who have completely obtained the truth are ones who are successful in their belief in God. Those who ultimately don’t obtain the truth are failures in their belief and are in danger of being eliminated. Some people betray God when they are persecuted and when they face tribulations. They are people who have not obtained the truth. Some people in the church commit all manner of evil and are thus eliminated. They are people who have not obtained the truth. Some people consistently fulfill their duties perfunctorily and always cause disturbance and destruction. They are people who have not obtained the truth. Some people gain an insatiable appetite for status after they have become leaders and act superior to everyone else. They steal offerings, frequently demand things from others, and make people wait upon them. They are people who have not obtained the truth. Some people are arrogant and conceited and do not have a place for God in their hearts. They do their utmost to pursue position, fame and profit. They form cliques, and they disturb and tear down the work of God’s family. They are people who haven’t obtained the truth. These people run amok and commit all manner of evil because they are not fond of the truth and certainly don’t pursue the truth, which results in their faith taking a step in the wrong direction and their subsequent downfall. Their failure is caused purely by them not pursuing the truth. Those who pursue the truth are also corrupted by Satan just the same, and expose their corrupt disposition just the same, but they are able to see continual progress and transformation during their life experiences, so the expression of their corrupt dispositions becomes less and less, they transgress less and less, they have fewer and fewer notions, their work becomes less and less perfunctory, and they become less and less resistant and rebellious. This is the normal state for those who pursue the truth and enter into life experience. If people have believed in God for many years, but their corrupt dispositions still don’t change and their transgressions and wicked behavior continually increase, then this is sufficient to prove that the state of those who don’t pursue the truth steadily becomes worse to the point that the corruption becomes untreatable. When the wheat grows to maturity, all the tares—people who haven’t obtained the truth (those without life)—also grow into unwanted weeds. They conform increasingly less with those who have obtained the truth until they begin to get hostile, which is when they ought to be eliminated. This is natural law. All those who have believed in God for many years without obtaining the truth, who have not had the slightest degree of transformation in their corrupt dispositions but rather show increasingly wicked behavior, are subject to elimination. It’s not that God’s family didn’t give them an opportunity to repent, but rather it is that they had ample opportunity during the many years they believed in God and still brought on their own downfall. All those who do not pursue the truth do so completely due to their satanic nature, it matters not how many opportunities they are given. Even though all people experience being corrupted by Satan, those who are fond of the truth and who pursue the truth are able to receive God’s salvation and be perfected by God. No matter how many years those who are not fond of the truth believe, they are still just as corrupt as before and do not change in the slightest. We can clearly see from the real states of the four stages of life experience that all those who pursue the truth will progress according to the four stages of life experience until they are perfected by God. The four stages of life experience have been summarized and organized based completely on the real states of the majority of those who pursue the truth and are in total compliance with the normal laws of life experience. As long as people pursue the truth, they are in one of the four stages of life experience of being saved and perfected. There is not one exception to this. I hope that all brothers and sisters will be able to compare yourselves against the states of the four stages of life experience and look at yourselves to see which stage you are in. In doing this, you will come to know yourself, and you won’t be satisfied with your current situation, considering that you have already gained the truth, or you won’t give up on yourself and resign yourself to fate because you feel that it is too difficult. Only by clearly seeing the true states of all the stages of life experience can you know which stage you are experiencing, what you still lack, and how you ought to go forward and set new goals to pursue. This will give direction to your experiences and clear goals to pursue so that you can smoothly enter into the higher realm of life experience and ultimately be perfected by God and obtain God’s complete salvation. This is the purpose for me writing this passage.
February 21, 2006