For the time being, I will leave our fellowship about God’s righteous disposition finished at that. Next I will classify God’s followers into several categories, according to their understanding of God and their understanding and experience with His righteous disposition, so that you may know the stage you currently belong to as well as your current stature. In terms of their knowledge of God and their understanding of His righteous disposition, the different stages and statures which people occupy can generally be separated into five types. This topic is predicated on the basis of knowing the unique God and His righteous disposition; therefore, as you read the following content, you should carefully attempt to figure out exactly how much understanding and knowledge you have regarding God’s uniqueness and His righteous disposition, and then use this to judge which stage you truly belong to, how large your stature truly is, and which type of person you truly are.
What is an infant in swaddling clothes? An infant in swaddling clothes is an infant who has just come into this world, a newborn. It is when people are at their smallest and most immature.
People at this stage essentially possess no awareness or consciousness of matters of belief in God. They are bewildered and ignorant toward everything. These people may have believed in God for a long time or for not a very long time at all, but their bewildered and ignorant state and their true stature place them within the stage of an infant in swaddling clothes. The precise definition of the situation of an infant in swaddling clothes is as such: No matter how long this kind of person has believed in God, he will always be muddle-headed, confused and simple-minded; he does not know why he believes in God, nor does he know who God is or who is God. Although he follows God, there is no exact definition of God in his heart, and he cannot determine whether whom he follows is God, let alone whether he truly should and follow Him. These are the true circumstances of this type of person. These people’s thoughts are clouded, and simply put, their belief is one of confusion. They always exist in a state of bewilderment and blankness; muddle-headedness, confusion and simple-mindedness summarize their circumstances. They have never seen nor felt God’s existence, and therefore, talking to them about knowing God is as much use as making them read a book written in hieroglyphics; they will neither understand nor accept it. For them, knowing God is the same as hearing a fantastical tale. While their thoughts may be clouded, they actually firmly believe that knowing God is an utter waste of time and effort. This is the first type of person: an infant in swaddling clothes.
Compared to an infant in swaddling clothes, this type of person has made some progress. Regretfully, they still have no understanding of God whatsoever. They still lack a clear understanding of and insight into God, and they are not very clear as to why they should believe in God, but in their hearts they have their own purpose and clear ideas. They do not concern themselves with whether it is right to believe in God. The objective and purpose they seek through belief in God is to enjoy His grace, to have joy and peace, to live comfortable lives, to have God’s care and protection and to live under God’s blessings. They are not concerned with the degree to which they know God; they have no urge to seek an understanding of God, nor are they concerned with what God is doing or what He wishes to do. They only blindly seek to enjoy His grace and obtain more of His blessings; they seek to receive a hundredfold in the present age, and in the age to come. Their thoughts, spending and devotion, as well as their suffering, all share the same objective: to obtain God’s grace and blessings. They have no concern for anything else. This type of person is certain only that God can keep them safe and bestow His grace upon them. One can say that they are not interested in and not very clear as to why God wishes to save man or the result God wishes to obtain with His words and work. They have never made an effort to know God’s substance and righteous disposition, nor can they muster the interest to do so. They do not feel like paying attention to these things, nor do they wish to know them. They do not wish to ask about God’s work, God’s requirements of man, or anything else related to God; nor could they be bothered to ask about these things. This is because they believe these matters are unrelated to their enjoyment of God’s grace; they are only concerned with a God who can bestow grace and is related to their personal interests. They have no interest whatsoever in anything else, and so they cannot enter the reality of the truth, regardless of how many years they have believed in God. Without anyone to water or feed them often, it is difficult for them to continue down the path of belief in God. If they cannot enjoy their earlier joy and peace or enjoy God’s grace, they are quite liable to back out. This is the second type of person: the person who exists in the stage of the suckling infant.
This group of people possesses some clear awareness. These people are aware that enjoying God’s grace does not mean that they themselves possess true experience; they are aware that if they never tire of seeking joy and peace, of seeking grace, or if they are able to bear witness by sharing their experiences of enjoying God’s grace or by praising the blessings God has bestowed upon them, these things do not mean that they possess life, nor do they mean that they possess the reality of the truth. Beginning from their consciousness, they cease to entertain wild hopes that they will only be accompanied by God’s grace; rather, as they enjoy God’s grace, they simultaneously wish to do something for God; they are willing to perform their duty, to endure a bit of hardship and fatigue, to have some degree of cooperation with God. However, because their pursuit in their belief in God is too adulterated, because the individual intentions and desires they harbor are too strong, because their disposition is too wildly arrogant, it is very difficult for them to satisfy God’s desire or to be loyal to God; therefore, they frequently cannot realize their individual wishes or honor their promises to God. They often find themselves in contradictory states: They very much wish to satisfy God to the greatest possible degree, yet they use all their might to oppose Him; they often make vows to God but quickly shirk their oaths. Even more often they find themselves in other contradictory states: They sincerely believe in yet deny God and everything that comes from Him; they anxiously hope that God will enlighten them, lead them, supply them and help them, yet they still seek their own way out. They wish to understand and to know God, yet they are unwilling to draw close to Him. Instead, they always avoid God; their hearts are closed to Him. While they have a superficial understanding and experience of the literal meaning of God’s words and of the truth, and a superficial concept of God and truth, subconsciously they still cannot confirm or determine whether God is the truth; they cannot confirm whether God is truly righteous; nor can they determine the realness of God’s disposition and substance, let alone His true existence. Their belief in God always contains doubts and misunderstandings, and it also contains imaginations and conceptions. As they enjoy God’s grace, they also reluctantly experience or practice some of what they believe to be feasible truths, in order to enrich their belief, to augment their experience in believing in God, to verify their understanding of believing in God, to satisfy their vanity of walking upon the life path that they themselves established and accomplishing a righteous cause of mankind. At the same time they also do these things in order to satisfy their own desire for gaining blessings, in order to make a bet so that they can bear greater blessings of humanity, in order to accomplish the ambitious aspiration and lifelong desire of not resting until they have obtained God. These people are seldom able to obtain God’s enlightenment, for their desire and their intention of gaining blessings are too important to them. They have no desire to and cannot bear to give this up. They fear that without the desire to gain blessings, without the long-cherished ambition of not resting until they have obtained God, they will lose the motivation to believe in God. Therefore, they do not wish to face reality. They do not wish to face God’s words or God’s work. They do not wish to face up to God’s disposition or substance, let alone bring up the subject of knowing God. This is because once God, His substance and His righteous disposition replace their imaginations, their dreams will go up in smoke; their so-called pure faith and “merits” accumulated through years of painstaking work will vanish and come to nothing; their “territory” that they have conquered with their sweat and blood over the years will be on the verge of collapse. This will signify that their many years of hard work and effort have been futile, that they must begin again from nothing. This is the most difficult pain for them to bear in their hearts, and it is the result that they least desire to see; therefore they are always locked in this kind of stalemate, refusing to turn back. This is the third type of person: the person who exists in the stage of the weaning infant.
The three types of people described above—in other words, the people who exist in these three stages—do not possess any true belief in God’s identity and status or in His righteous disposition, nor do they have any clear, definite recognition or confirmation of these things. Therefore, it is very difficult for these three types of people to enter the reality of the truth, and it is also difficult for them to receive God’s mercy, enlightenment or illumination because the manner in which they believe in God and their mistaken attitude toward God make it impossible for Him to perform work within their hearts. Their doubts, misconceptions and imaginations regarding God have exceeded their belief and knowledge of God. These are three very dangerous types of people as well as three very dangerous stages. When one maintains an attitude of doubt toward God, God’s substance, God’s identity, the matter of whether God is the truth and the realness of His existence and cannot be sure of these things, how can one accept everything that comes from God? How can one accept the fact that God is the truth, the way and the life? How can one accept God’s chastisement and judgment? How can one accept ? How can this kind of person obtain God’s true guidance and supplying? Those who are in these three stages can oppose God, pass judgment on God, blaspheme God or betray God at any time. They can abandon the true way and forsake God at any time. One can say that people in these three stages exist in a critical period, for they have not entered the right track of believing in God.
After one has been weaned—that is, after they have enjoyed an ample amount of grace, one begins to explore what it means to believe in God, to wish to understand different questions, such as why man is living, how man should live and why God performs His work upon man. When these unclear thoughts and confused notions emerge within them and exist within them, they continuously receive watering and are also able to perform their duty. During this period, they no longer have any doubts as to the truth of God’s existence, and they have an accurate grasp of what it means to believe in God. Upon this foundation they have a gradual knowledge of God, and they gradually obtain some answers to their unclear thoughts and confused notions as to God’s disposition and substance. In terms of their changes in disposition as well as their knowledge of God, people in this stage begin to step onto the right track and enter a transition period. It is within this stage that people begin to have life. Clear indications of possessing life are the gradual resolution of the various questions related to knowing God that people have in their hearts—misunderstandings, imaginations, conceptions and vague definitions of God—that they not only really believe and know the realness of God’s existence but also possess a clear definition and orientation of God in their hearts, that truly following God replaces their vague faith. During this stage, people gradually come to know their misconceptions toward God and their mistaken pursuits and ways of belief. They begin to crave the truth, to crave experiencing God’s judgment, chastening and discipline, to crave a change in their disposition. They gradually abandon all sorts of conceptions and imaginations of God during this stage; at the same time they change and rectify their incorrect knowledge of God and obtain some correct fundamental knowledge of God. Although a portion of the knowledge possessed by people at this stage is not too specific or accurate, at the very least they gradually begin to abandon their conceptions, mistaken knowledge and misunderstandings of God; they no longer maintain their own conceptions and imaginations toward God. They begin to learn how to abandon—to abandon things found among their own conceptions, from knowledge and from Satan; they start to be willing to submit to correct and positive things, even to things that come from God’s words and conform to the truth. They also begin to attempt to experience God’s words, to personally know and carry out His words, to accept His words as the principles of their actions and as the basis for changing their disposition. During this period, people unconsciously accept God’s judgment and chastisement, unconsciously accept God’s words as their life. While they accept God’s judgment, chastisement, and accept God’s words, they become increasingly aware of and able to sense that the God that they believe in within their hearts truly exists. In God’s words, their experiences and their lives, they increasingly feel that God has always presided over man’s fate, led man, and supplied man. Through their association with God, they gradually confirm God’s existence. Therefore, before they realize it, they have already subconsciously approved of and firmly believed in God’s work, and have approved of God’s words. Once people approve of God’s words and approve of God’s work, they unceasingly deny themselves, deny their own conceptions, deny their own knowledge, deny their own imaginations, and at the same time also unceasingly seek what the truth is and what God’s will is. People’s knowledge of God is quite superficial during this period of development—they are even unable to clearly elaborate this knowledge using words, nor can they specifically elaborate it—and they only have a perceptive understanding; however, when juxtaposed with the preceding three stages, the immature lives of people in this period have already received watering and the supply of God’s words, and have already begun to sprout. It is like a seed buried in the ground; after obtaining moisture and nutrients, it will break through the soil; its sprouting represents the birth of a new life. This birth of a new life allows one to glimpse the indications of life. With life, people will thereby grow. Therefore, upon these foundations—gradually making their way onto the right track of believing in God, abandoning their own conceptions, obtaining God’s guidance—people’s lives will inevitably grow step by step. Upon what basis is this growth measured? It is measured according to their experience with God’s words and their true understanding of God’s righteous disposition. Although they find it very difficult to use their own words to accurately describe their knowledge of God and His substance during this period of growth, this group of people is no longer subjectively willing to pursue pleasure through the enjoyment of God’s grace, or to pursue their purpose behind believing in God, which is to obtain His grace. Instead, they are willing to seek living by , to become a subject of God’s salvation. Additionally, they possess the confidence and are ready to accept God’s judgment and chastisement. This is the mark of a person in the stage of growth.
Although people in this stage have some knowledge of God’s righteous disposition, this knowledge is very hazy and indistinct. While they cannot clearly elaborate this, they feel they have already gained something internally, for they have obtained some measure of knowledge and understanding of God’s righteous disposition through God’s chastisement and judgment; however, it is all rather superficial, and it is still at an elementary stage. This group of people has a concrete point of view with which they treat God’s grace. This point of view is expressed in the changes of the objectives they pursue and the way in which they pursue them. They have already seen—in God’s words and work, in all kinds of His requirements of man and in His revelations of man—that if they still do not pursue the truth, if they still do not pursue to enter the reality, if they still do not seek to satisfy and know God as they experience His words, they will lose the significance of believing in God. They see no matter how much they enjoy God’s grace, they cannot change their disposition, satisfy God or know God, and that if they continuously live among God’s grace, they will never achieve growth, obtain life or be able to receive salvation. In summary, if one cannot truly experience God’s words and is unable to know God through His words, one will eternally remain at the stage of an infant and never make a single step forward in the growth of one’s life. If you forever exist in the stage of an infant, if you never enter the reality of God’s word, if you are never able to live by God’s word, if you are never able to possess true belief and knowledge of God, is there any possibility for you to be made complete by God? Therefore, anyone who enters the reality of God’s word, anyone who accepts God’s word as their life, anyone who begins to accept God’s chastisement and judgment, anyone whose corrupt disposition begins to change, and anyone who has a heart that craves the truth, has a desire to know God, has a desire to accept God’s salvation—these people are those who truly possess life. This is truly the fourth type of person, that of the maturing child, the person in the stage of childhood.
After experiencing the toddling stage of childhood, this stage of growth full of repeated reversals, people’s lives have already stabilized, their forward paces no longer cease, nor is anyone able to obstruct them. Although the path ahead is still rough and rugged, they are no longer weak or fearful; they no longer fumble ahead or lose their bearings. Their foundations are rooted deep within the real experience of God’s word. Their hearts have been drawn in by God’s dignity and greatness. They crave to follow God’s footsteps, to know God’s substance, to know God in His entirety.
People in this stage already know clearly who they believe in, and they know clearly why they should believe in God and the meanings of their own respective lives; they also know clearly that everything God expresses is the truth. In their many years of experience, they realize that without God’s judgment and chastisement, one will never be able to satisfy or know God, nor will one ever truly be able to come before God. Within these people’s respective hearts is a strong desire to be tried by God, in order to see God’s righteous disposition while being tried, to attain a purer love, and at the same time be able to more truly understand and know God. Those belonging to this stage have already entirely bid farewell to the infant stage, the stage of enjoying God’s grace and eating bread and being filled. They no longer place extravagant hopes on making God tolerate and show mercy to them; rather, they are confident to receive and hope for God’s unceasing chastisement and judgment, so as to separate themselves from their corrupt disposition and satisfy God. Their knowledge of God, their pursuits or the final goals of their pursuits: these things are all very clear in their hearts. Therefore, people in the adult stage have already completely bid farewell to the stage of vague faith, to the stage in which they rely on grace for salvation, to the stage of immature life that cannot withstand trials, to the stage of haziness, to the stage of fumbling, to the stage of frequently having no path to take, to the unstable period of alternating between sudden heat and cold, and to the stage where one follows God with one’s eyes covered. This kind of person frequently receives God’s enlightenment and illumination, and frequently engages in true association and communication with God. One can say that people living in this stage have already grasped part of God’s will; they are able to find the principles of the truth in everything they do; they know how to satisfy God’s desire. Furthermore, they have also found the path to knowing God and have begun to bear witness to their knowledge of God. During the process of gradual growth, they have a gradual understanding and knowledge of God’s will, of God’s will in creating humanity, of God’s will in managing humanity; additionally, they also gradually have an understanding and knowledge of God’s righteous disposition in terms of substance. No human conception or imagination can replace this knowledge. While one cannot say that in the fifth stage a person’s life is completely mature or call this person righteous or complete, this kind of person has already taken a step toward the stage of maturity in life; this person is already able to come before God, to stand face to face with God’s word and face to face with God. Because this kind of person has experienced so much of God’s word, experienced innumerable trials and experienced innumerable instances of discipline, judgment and chastisement from God, their submission to God is not relative but absolute. Their knowledge of God has transformed from subconscious to clear and precise knowledge, from superficial to deep, from blurry and hazy to meticulous and tangible, and they have changed from strenuous fumbling and passive seeking to effortless knowledge and proactive witnessing. It can be said that people in this stage have possessed the reality of the truth of God’s word, that they have stepped onto a path to perfection like Peter’s. This is the fifth type of person, one who lives in a state of being mature—the adult stage.
October 30, 2014
a. The original text does not have “they”.
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