XII. One Must Fellowship Clearly on Truths Concerning the Wise Virgins Hearing the Voice of God
2. What are the differences between the words of people used by God throughout the ages which conform to the truth, and the words of God Himself?
Relevant Words of God:
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
You have to understand the actual scope of the truth and understand what is outside the scope of the truth.
If people gain some insights and have some understanding based on their experiences from the words of truth, does this count as the truth? At best it can be said that they have some understanding of the truth. All the words of enlightenment of the Holy Spirit do not represent God’s word, do not represent truth, and they do not pertain to the truth. It can only be said that those people have some understanding of truth, and some enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. … Everyone can experience the truth, but the situations of their experience will be different, and what each person obtains from the same truth is different. But even after combining everyone’s understanding you still cannot completely explain this one truth; the truth is that deep! Why do I say that all of the things you have obtained and all of your understanding, cannot be a substitute for the truth? If you fellowship your understanding with others, they may ponder on it for two or three days and then they will finish experiencing it, but a person cannot fully experience truth even in a lifetime, even all people together cannot experience it thoroughly. Thus it can be seen that the truth is very profound! There is no way to use words to fully articulate the truth, 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. If you say that to have some experiences means that you have the truth, then can you represent the disposition of God? You cannot. A person may have some experience or light regarding a certain aspect or side of a truth, but they cannot supply others with it forever, so their light is not truth; it’s just a certain point that is attainable for a person. It’s just the proper experience and understanding that a person should possess, which is their practical experience of truth. This light, enlightenment and understanding based on experience can never be a substitute for truth; even if all people have completely experienced one sentence of truth, and they combine all those words together, that is still no substitute for that one truth. As has been said in the past, “I sum this up with a maxim for the human world: Among men, there is no one who loves Me.” This is a statement of truth, it is the true essence of life, it is the most profound thing, it is God’s own expression. You can experience it. If you experience it for three years you will have a shallow understanding, if you experience it for eight years you will gain more understanding, but your understanding will never substitute for that statement of truth. If someone else experiences it for two years they will have a little understanding; if they experience it for ten years they will have a higher understanding, and if they experience it for a lifetime they will gain a bit more understanding, but if you put both of your understandings together, no matter how much understanding, how much experience, how many insights, how much light, or how many examples you both have, all of that cannot substitute for that statement. What do I mean by this? I mean that the life of man will always be the life of man, and no matter how much your understanding is in accordance with the truth, in accordance with the intentions of God, in accordance with the requirements of God, it will never be able to be a substitute for the truth. To say that people have truth means that they have some reality, that they have some understanding of God’s truth, that they have some real entry into God’s words, that they have some real experience with God’s words, and that they are on the right track in their faith in God. Only one statement of God is enough for a person to experience for a lifetime; even if people were to have the experience of several lifetimes or of several millennia, they still wouldn’t be able to wholly and thoroughly experience a truth. …
… If you have some experience with an aspect of truth, can this represent the truth? It absolutely cannot represent the truth. Can you thoroughly explain the truth? You really cannot. Can you discover God’s disposition and essence from the truth? You cannot. Everyone’s experience of truth is just one aspect of it, one part, one scope; experiencing it within your own limited scope you cannot touch upon all of truth. The meaning of the truth reveals the common nature of humanity. What proportion does your little bit of experience amount to? A grain of sand on a beach, a drop of water in the ocean. Therefore, no matter how precious your understandings and feelings from your experiences, even if they are utterly invaluable—they cannot be counted as truth. The source of truth and the meaning of truth cover a very broad area. Nothing can contradict it. … However, the things that people have, the light that people have obtained, are only suitable for themselves or for some others within a certain scope, but will not be suitable within a different scope. A person’s experience is so limited no matter how profound it is, and their experience will never reach the scope of the truth. A person’s light, a person’s understanding, can never be compared to the truth.
from “Do You Know What Truth Really Is?” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Man’s ways of practice and his knowledge of the truth are all applicable to a particular scope. You cannot say that the path that man treads is completely the will of the Holy Spirit, because man can only be enlightened by the Holy Spirit and cannot be completely filled with the Holy Spirit. The things that man can experience are all within the scope of normal humanity and cannot exceed the range of thoughts in the normal human mind. All those with practical expression experience within this range. When they experience the truth, it is always an experience of normal human life under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, not experiencing in a way which deviates from normal human life. They experience the truth enlightened by the Holy Spirit on the foundation of living their human life. Moreover, this truth varies from person to person, and the depth of it is related to the state of the person. One can only say that the path they walk is the normal human life of a man pursuing the truth, and that it is the path walked by a normal person who has the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. You cannot say that the path they tread is the path taken by the Holy Spirit. In the normal human experience, because the people who pursue are not the same, the work of the Holy Spirit is also not the same. In addition, because the environments they experience and the ranges of their experience are not the same, because of the mixture of their mind and thoughts, their experience is mixed to different degrees. Each person understands a truth according to their individual different conditions. Their understanding of the real meaning of the truth is not complete and is only one or a few aspects of it. The scope by which the truth is experienced by man is always based on the different conditions of individuals and is therefore not the same. In this way, the knowledge expressed of the same truth by different people is not the same. That is to say, man’s experience always has limitations and cannot completely represent the will of the Holy Spirit, and the work of man cannot be perceived as the work of God, even if what is expressed by man corresponds very closely to God’s will, even if the experience of man is very close to the perfecting work to be performed by the Holy Spirit. Man can only be God’s servant, doing the work that God entrusts to him. Man can only express the knowledge under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and the truths gained from his personal experiences. Man is unqualified and does not have the conditions to be the outlet of the Holy Spirit. He is not entitled to say that man’s work is the work of God.
from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Man’s fellowship differs from the word of God. What man fellowships conveys their individual seeing and experience, expressing what they see and experience on the foundation of God’s work. Their responsibility is to find out, after God works or speaks, what they ought to practice or enter into, and then deliver it to followers. Therefore, man’s work represents his entry and practice. Of course, such work is mixed with human lessons and experience or some of human thoughts. No matter how the Holy Spirit works, whether He works on man or in God incarnate, it is always the workers expressing what they are. Although it is the Holy Spirit who works, the work is founded on what man inherently is, because the Holy Spirit does not work without foundation. In other words, the work is not done out of nothing, but is always in accordance with actual circumstances and real conditions. It is in this way only that man’s disposition can be transformed, that his old notions and old thoughts can be changed. What man expresses is what he sees, experiences and can imagine. Even if it is doctrines or notions, these are all reachable by man’s thinking. Regardless of the size of man’s work, it cannot exceed the scope of man’s experience, what man sees, or what man can imagine or conceive. What God expresses is what God Himself is, and this is beyond the reach of man, that is, beyond the reach of man’s thinking. He expresses His work of leading all of mankind, and this is not relevant to the details of human experience, but is instead concerned with His own management. Man expresses his experience while God expresses His being—this being is His inherent disposition and is beyond the reach of man. Man’s experience is his seeing and knowledge acquired based on God’s expression of His being. Such seeing and knowledge are called man’s being. They are expressed on the foundation of man’s inherent disposition and his actual caliber; hence they are also called man’s being. Man is able to fellowship what he experiences and sees. What he has not experienced or seen or his mind cannot reach, that is, the things he does not have inside him, he is unable to fellowship. If what man expresses is not his experience, it is his imagination or doctrine. In a word, there is not any reality in his words. If you have never contacted the things of society, you would not be able to clearly fellowship the complex relationships in society. If you have no family but other people are talking about family issues, you cannot understand the majority of what they were saying. So, what man fellowships and the work he does represent his inner being.
from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The Pauline epistles of the New Testament are epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, and not inspirations from the Holy Spirit, nor are they the direct utterances of the Holy Spirit. They are merely words of exhortation, comfort, and encouragement that he wrote for the churches during the course of his work. So, too, are they a record of much of Paul’s work at the time. They were written for all of the brothers and sisters in the Lord, and were in order to make the brothers and sisters of all of the churches at the time follow his advice and abide by all of the ways of the Lord Jesus. By no means did Paul say that, be they the churches of that time or of the future, all must eat and drink the things he wrote, nor did he say that his words all came from God. According to the circumstances of the church at that time, he simply communed with the brothers and sisters, and exhorted them, and inspired belief in them; and he simply preached or reminded people and exhorted them. His words were based upon his own burden, and he supported the people through these words. He did the work of an apostle of the churches of that time, he was a worker who was used by the Lord Jesus, and thus he was given the responsibility of the churches, he was charged with carrying out the work of the churches, he had to learn about the situations of the brothers and sisters—and because of this, he wrote epistles for all of the brothers and sisters in the Lord. All he said that was edifying and positive to people was right, but it did not represent the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and he could not represent God. It is an egregious understanding, and a tremendous blasphemy, for people to treat the records of a man’s experiences and a man’s epistles as the words spoken by the Holy Spirit to the churches! That is particularly true when it comes to the epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, for his epistles were written for the brothers and sisters based on the circumstances and situation of each church at the time, and were in order to exhort the brothers and sisters in the Lord, so that they could receive the grace of the Lord Jesus. His epistles were in order to rouse the brothers and sisters of that time. It can be said that this was his own burden, and was also the burden given to him by the Holy Spirit; after all, he was an apostle who led the churches of the time, who wrote epistles for the churches and exhorted them—that was his responsibility. His identity was merely that of a working apostle, and he was merely an apostle who was sent by God; he was not a prophet, nor a foreteller. So to him, his own work and the lives of the brothers and sisters were of the utmost importance. Thus, he could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit. His words were not the words of the Holy Spirit, much less could they be said to be the words of God, for Paul was nothing more than a creature of God, and was certainly not the incarnation of God. His identity was not the same as that of Jesus. The words of Jesus were the words of the Holy Spirit, they were the words of God, for His identity was that of Christ—the Son of God. How could Paul be His equal? If people see the epistles or words like Paul’s as the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and worship them as God, then it can only be said that they are too indiscriminating. To speak more harshly, isn’t this nothing but blasphemy? How could a man talk on behalf of God? And how could people bow down before the records of his epistles and of the words he spoke as if they were a holy book, or a heavenly book? Could the words of God be casually uttered by a man? How could a man talk on behalf of God? And so, what say you—could the epistles that he wrote for the churches not be tainted with his own ideas? How could they not be tainted with human ideas? He wrote epistles for the churches based on his personal experiences and the extent of his own life. For instance, Paul wrote an epistle to the Galatian churches which contained a certain opinion, and Peter wrote another, which had another view. Which of them came from the Holy Spirit? No one can say for sure. Thus, it can only be said that they both bore a burden for the churches, yet their letters represent their stature, they represent their provision and support for the brothers and sisters, and their burden toward the churches, and they only represent human work; they were not entirely of the Holy Spirit. If you say that his epistles are the words of the Holy Spirit, then you are absurd, and you are committing blasphemy! The Pauline epistles and the other epistles of the New Testament are equivalent to the memoirs of the more recent spiritual figures. They are on a par with the books of Watchman Nee or the experiences of Lawrence, and so on. It’s simply that the books of recent spiritual figures are not compiled into the New Testament, yet the substance of these people is the same: They were people who were used by the Holy Spirit during a certain period, and they could not directly represent God.
from “Concerning the Bible (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The word of God cannot be spoken as the word of man, much less can the word of man be spoken as the word of God. A man used by God is not the incarnate God, and the incarnate God is not a man used by God; in this, there is a substantial difference. Perhaps, after reading these words, you do not accept that they are the words of God, and only accept them as the words of a man who has been enlightened. In that case, you are blinded by ignorance. How can the words of God be the same as the words of a man who has been enlightened? The words of God incarnate initiate a new age, guide the whole of mankind, reveal mysteries, and show man the direction ahead in a new age. The enlightenment obtained by man is but simple practice or knowledge. It cannot guide the whole of mankind into a new age or reveal the mystery of God Himself. God, after all, is God, and man is man. God has the substance of God, and man has the substance of man. If man views the words spoken by God as simple enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and takes the words of the apostles and prophets as words personally spoken by God, then man is wrong. Regardless, you should never turn right into wrong, or speak of the high as the low, or speak of the profound as the shallow; regardless, you should never deliberately refute what you know to be the truth. Everyone who believes there is a God should consider this problem from the correct standpoint, and should accept His new work and words as a creature of God—or else be eliminated by God.
from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh