By Wu Hui
When I first believed in God, brothers and sisters told me that if I read and sang hymns to praise God more, prayed to God every day, gave thanks before meals and in everything, went to church on Sundays, preached the to bear much fruit, and adhered to the name and the way of the Lord, I would be praised by God. From then on, I had been practicing in such way, so had many brothers and sisters who pursued actively. A few years later, I found that when God bestowed upon me His grace and blessings, I was full of happiness and appreciated Him ceaselessly, but when encountering sickness or troubles, I became passive and weak and complained against God in my heart: Why does God not protect me? Sometimes, when encountering persecution or tribulation, I felt it too challenging to and lost faith in Him. I even wanted to depart from God, follow the social trends, and earn money to live a good life. And many brothers and sisters who had believed in God for many years were in the same situation. I wondered: Why do my love and faith for God not increase and I have no progress in life during many years of belief in God? Why couldn’t I feel the guidance from the Holy Spirit? With this manner of faith, could I receive the commendation of God? How should I believe in God to be after His heart? I got confused and helpless, not knowing what to do.
Later, I found the answer from a book which brothers and sisters gave me. It is said in the book: “Most people think that in order to have a normal spiritual life one must pray, sing, eat and drink the words of God, or try to figure out the words of God. No matter whether there is any result, or whether there is a true understanding, these people just focus on going through the motions on the outside, and do not focus on the result—they are people living within the rituals of religion, and are not people living within the church, and even less are they people of the kingdom. This kind of person’s prayers, songs, and eating and drinking of the words of God are all abiding by the rules, they are compelled to do them, and they are done in keeping with trends; they are not done willingly or done from the heart. No matter how much these people pray or sing, there will be no result at all, because all they practice are religious rules and rituals, and they are not practicing the word of God. By only focusing on the method, and taking the words of God as rules to keep, this kind of person is not practicing the word of God, but is satisfying the flesh, and is doing things to show off to others. This kind of religious ritual and rule comes from man, not from God. … Like the people in the Three-Self Church who are limited to daily morning watch, evening prayers, giving thanks before meals, expressing thanks in everything, and other such practices, no matter how much these people do, or how long they practice, they will not have ” (“Regarding a Normal Spiritual Life”). From this passage, I came to understand that I saw belief in God as something very simple before. Though I always read the Bible, prayed to God, and preached the gospel, I was only going through the formalities and following procedure and have never worshiped God with my heart and honesty. As a result, I couldn’t gain the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit, but just believed in God in accordance with my notions and imagination. As I didn’t understand and requirements, or have a normal relationship with God, it’s no wonder that I have believed in God for so many years yet have no true love and faith for God, and nor do I have any progress in my life. I couldn’t help thinking of those Jewish chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees: They knew the Scripture very well and compassed sea and land to preach the gospel, gave the tenth to God on time, fasted and prayed frequently, made broad their phylacteries, often prayed to God standing in the synagogue and at crossroads, and taught the people with the words drawn from the Scripture. At that time, they were regarded as the best believers who were very devout and would surly gain God’s approval. However, God observes deep into people’s hearts, and He saw clearly their ugly and filthy hearts. The said: “Well has Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. However, in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6-7). “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23). From the words that Lord Jesus exposed the Pharisees, I came to know that they only focused on keeping the rules and ceremonies outwardly but never obeyed the commandments of God, so God didn’t commend their belief, saying that their belief was in vain. Moreover, because neither did they pursue knowing God nor have fear of God during many years of belief, they finally crucified the incarnate Lord Jesus, committing a heinous crime, and became those who believed in God yet opposed Him, which caused them to be punished and cursed by God. From the failure of the Pharisees in their belief in God, I understood: No matter how well we keep these doctrines and rules, we still have no true knowledge of God, nor do we have true love and faith for God, and naturally such belief can’t receive the approval of God.
Thinking of this, I was beginning to feel uneasy, worrying that I would never be approved by God if I continued with such manner of faith. Therefore, I urgently prayed to God and asked Him to guide me to find the right path of believing in God. Then I read another passage of words in this book: “‘Belief in God’ means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept of . What’s more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means experiencing the words and work of God based on a belief that God holds sovereignty over all things. So you shall be freed of your corrupt disposition, shall fulfill the desire of God, and shall come to know God. Only through such a journey can you be said to believe in God” (Preface). “Since you believe in God, you must eat and drink of His word, experience His word, and live out His word. Only this is belief in God! If you say you believe in God yet cannot speak out any of His words or put them into practice, you are not considered to believe in God. This is ‘seeking bread to satisfy hunger.’ Speaking only of trivial testimony, useless matters, and superficial matters, and not having even the slightest bit of reality do not constitute belief in God. As such, you have not grasped the right way of believing in God” (“The Age of Kingdom Is the Age of Word”). “Understand the word of God and put it into action. Be principled in your actions and deeds; this is not abiding by rules or to do so grudgingly just for show. Rather, this is the practice of truth and living by the word of God. Only practice such as this satisfies God” (“Believing in God Should Focus on Reality Not Religious Rituals”). I suddenly realized: Truly believing in God isn’t just believing that there is a God. Rather, it means experiencing the work of God based on a belief that God created and holds sovereignty over all things, knowing God is the truth, the way, and the life, focusing on pondering the truth in , and strictly practicing according to God’s words in everything we encounter in daily life. During such a journey, we shall pursue knowing God, casting away our corrupt disposition, and being a person who truly obeys and loves God. Only in this way can we be called true believers in God. I couldn’t but think of the words of the Lord Jesus: “That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). God’s word is the foundation of our belief in Him, and the way for us to understand His will. When we have meetings, pray to God, praise God, or preach the gospel, we shall seek God’s will from His word, act according to God’s word, and allow God’s word to become our code of conduct. If we just go through the process and follow the rules, but don’t put in any effort to ponder God’s will from His word or practice His word, then we are merely performing religious ceremonies, and this is not true belief in God. If we continue with such manner of faith, we will lean toward our own path and deviate farther and farther from God’s requirements, and will be abandoned by God in the end. Thinking of Job, he believed that God holds sovereignty over all things, focused on practicing God’s word in daily life, and followed the way of fearing God and shunning evil. In his experiences, he deeply appreciated that all of his property was bestowed by God and was not gained through his own labor. Since he had true knowledge of God, he could extol the holy name of God without complaint when his property was taken away by robbers and his sons and daughters died. Just as he said: “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). From this, we can see that Job was a true believer in God, as well as a perfect person in God’s eyes. Finally, his belief was commended by God and he gained God’s blessings.
Now, I understand that belief in God is not indeed a simple matter. Only when we spend efforts on God’s words, focus on experiencing and practicing God’s words, and achieve a true knowledge of God, can our belief count as true faith in God and be commended by God.
Dear brothers and sisters, If you have any understanding or enlightenment from God, welcome to share with us via the online chat window at the bottom of the website or send an email to [email protected]. We sincerely hope we’ll grow spiritually through sharing with each other.
You might be interested in: Have You Followed the Four Steps of Believing in God?