Chapter 28. Without the Truth It Is Easy to Offend God
Some people work and preach sermons and, although on the surface it looks as though they are fellowshiping about God’s word, all they are saying is the literal meaning of God’s word, with the essence of the word left totally unspoken. Their sermons are like teaching from a language textbook, arranged God’s words item by item, aspect by aspect, and when they are done everyone sings their praises, saying: “This preacher is so practical. They preached so well and in such detail.” After they are done preaching, they tell others to put together what has been preached and to hand it out to everybody. By doing this, they deceive others and all that they preach are fallacies. On the surface, it looks as though they are preaching only God’s word and that their words conform to the truth. But if you discern more carefully, you will see that all they say are the words of doctrine and are just false reasoning. Their words also contain some imaginings, conceptions and there are some words that delineate God. Does not preaching in this way interrupt God’s work? It is a way of serving that defies God. Your “summing up the truth” is not done to let people obtain life or attain changes in their dispositions from the truth. Instead, it is done so people can master some knowledge and doctrines from within the truth. They seem as though they understand the purpose behind God’s work, when actually they have only mastered some words and doctrine. They don’t understand the implied meaning of the truth, and it is no different from studying theology or reading the Bible. You compile these books or those materials, and so become in possession of this aspect of doctrine or that aspect of knowledge. You are a first rate speaker of doctrines—but what happens when you are done speaking? People are then incapable of experiencing, they have no understanding of God’s work and no understanding of themselves either. In the end, all the things they will have gained are formulas and rules, and they can talk about those things but nothing else. If God did something new, could all the doctrines that you know be a match for what God does? Therefore, those things of yours are just rules and you are just making people study theology: You are not allowing them to experience the word of God or experience the truth. Those books that people compile can bring them only to theology and knowledge, into formulas and into rules and conventions. They cannot bring people before God, or allow people to understand the truth or to understand God’s will. By asking question after question about those words, then answering, forming an outline or a summary, you think that your brothers and sisters can then easily understand them. Apart from being easy to remember, they are clear about these questions at a glance, and you think it is great to do things in this way. But what they are understanding is not the real implied meaning of the truth; it is at variance with reality and is just doctrinal words. So it would be better if you didn’t do these things at all. You do these things to lead people to understand knowledge and master knowledge. You bring others into religious doctrines, and make them follow God and believe in God within religious doctrines. Are you not then just the same as Paul? You think that mastering knowledge of the truth is particularly important, and that learning by heart passages of God’s words, being able to speak about doctrines, and to discover formulas within God’s words are all very important, but how people understand the word of God is not important at all. Therefore, you always want to systematize these things so that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and saying the same things, so that everyone speaks the same doctrines, has the same knowledge and keeps the same rules—this is your objective. You do this as though to make people understand better, when on the contrary you have no idea that by doing this you are bringing people into the midst of rules that are outside of the truth of God’s words. To make people have a real understanding of the truth, you must link it up with reality, link it up with the work, and solve practical problems according to the truth of God’s words. Only in this way can people understand the truth and enter into reality, and only achieving such a result is really bringing people before God. If all you talk about are spiritual theories, doctrines, and rules, if you only put effort into the literal words, you’ll just achieve unity in your statements and the rules you follow, but you won’t be able to guide people to understand the truth. You’ll be particularly unable to have people better understand themselves, achieve repentance, and transformation. If talking about spiritual theories takes the place of entering into the reality of the truth, it won’t be necessary for you to lead a church.
You have not yet discovered the laws of God’s words, and many people say this: “There is no logic in God’s words. Every article contains all kinds of content and there is a different meaning to every passage and every sentence which makes it hard for us to remember and difficult to understand. It is not even possible to summarize the general idea of a paragraph.” The word of God is not a novel, nor is it some prose or a work of literature. It is the truth; it is the word that gives life to man. The word is not something that can be understood by mulling it over in your mind, nor can its laws be summarized with a bit of extra effort. So no matter what aspect people have a little understanding of or have some sense of its rules, it can only be a one-sided understanding, only skin-deep, just one drop in the ocean, and it is basically incapable of reaching what God originally intended. Any article of God’s words will contain several aspects of the truth. For example, an article talking about the mystery of God’s incarnation will include the significance of the incarnation along with the work the incarnation does. And it will also contain how people should believe in God, and may perhaps also contain how people should understand and love God; it will include many aspects of the truth. If, according to your imagination, the significance of the incarnation contained only a few aspects and could be generalized in a few sentences, what outcome could God’s work on man then be able to achieve? People are made to understand the significance of the incarnation in order to make them understand God. After someone has understood God, they naturally have a heart that reveres God, and this now involves man’s practice. So no aspect of God’s words and no aspect of the truth is as simple as you imagine. If you regard the word of God and the divine language as simple, thinking that any question can be answered with a paragraph of God’s words, then that is not the truth. Every article contains many angles from which God’s words are spoken and there is no way for people to summarize or sum-up His words. After you have summed up His words, you think this passage has answered the above question, but this passage also relates to other questions. So what do you say to that? The truth contains many things. Why is it said that the truth is life, that it can provide enjoyment to man, that it cannot be experienced in its entirety even over several lifetimes or several hundred years? Say you were to sum up some aspect of the truth or some passage of God’s words, then ask a question about it. Then, in light of this question, you were to read this passage of God’s words out, although not even one of the original words has changed, it would then be evident that this passage is read in answer to that question. So this passage has become a formula, a rule and a doctrine, and is not the truth. Why? Because the question you asked was asked wrongly. It misled people and brought them into doctrines, made them think, imagine, consider this question, and read this passage in accordance with your doctrines. They would then read it back and forth, seeing only one question and not seeing any other aspect. In the end they would be brought to a place where they cannot experience the truth and cannot experience the word of God, a place where they can only equip themselves with and discuss doctrines. All they could speak about would be pleasant-sounding and correct doctrines, but they would lack understanding of God and there would be no reality within them and they would have no path to walk on. This kind of leading really does grievous harm!
What’s the greatest taboo in man’s service of God? Do you know? Those who serve as leaders always want to have greater ingenuity, to be head and shoulders above the rest, to find new tricks so that God can see how capable they really are. However, they don’t focus on understanding the truth and entering into the reality of God’s word. They always want to show off; isn’t this precisely the revelation of an arrogant nature? Some even say: “By doing this I’m sure that God will be very happy; He’ll really like it. This time I’ll let God see, give Him a nice surprise.” As a result of this “nice surprise,” you’re eliminated. Don’t just rashly do whatever comes into your mind. How can it be okay if you don’t consider the consequences of your actions? When you offend God’s disposition, offend His administrative decrees, and are then eliminated, there will be nothing left for you to say. Regardless of your intent, regardless of whether or not you do it deliberately, if you don’t understand God’s disposition or don’t understand God’s will, you will easily offend God and will easily offend His administrative decrees; this is something everyone should be on their guard against. Once you seriously offend God’s administrative decrees or offend God’s disposition, God will not consider whether you did it intentionally or unintentionally; this is something you must see clearly. If you cannot understand this issue, then you are guaranteed to have a problem. In serving God, people want to make great strides, do great things, speak great words, perform great work, print huge books, hold great meetings and be great leaders. If you always have grand ambitions, then you will offend God’s great administrative decrees; people like this will die quickly. If you aren’t upright, godly or prudent in serving God, sooner or later you will offend God’s administrative decrees. If you offend God’s disposition, offend His administrative decrees, and thereby sin against God, then He will not look to see for what reason you did this, nor to see your intentions. So do you think God is unreasonable? Is He being unkind to man? No. Because people are not blind, deaf, or stupid. You can all see and hear God’s administrative decrees, and yet still you offend them. What reason can you still speak of? Even if you don’t harbor any intentions, once you offend them, you must perish and suffer punishment. Need any situation of yours be taken into account? No one is forced at knife-point to offend God’s administrative decrees or God’s disposition. This just doesn’t happen. That God’s disposition will not allow offense contains its implied meaning. Yet God’s punishments are based on people’s situations and their backgrounds. One situation is where someone doesn’t know He is God and so offends Him. To know that He is God and yet still offend Him deliberately is another situation. If someone is fully aware that He is God yet still offends Him, then that person must be punished. God expresses some of His disposition in every stage of His work—are people aware of any of this? God has worked for so many years, do people not know His disposition and which things people do or say that are likely to offend God? And the things that are defined by God’s administrative decrees—what people should do and what they shouldn’t do—do people not know these also? People cannot understand some things that are to do with the truth or with the principles. That is because they have not experienced to that level, and so have no way to understand. But God’s administrative decrees are within a delineated scope and belong to rules. It is not necessary for people to understand them in any way, only that they abide by their literal meaning. If you’re just casual and don’t take anything to heart and don’t fear God, clearly knowing His administrative decrees but still offending them, you will certainly be punished!