Many people hold up God’s words to read day by day, even to the point of carefully committing to memory all the classic passages therein as their most prized possession, and moreover preach God’s words everywhere, supplying and aiding others by means of His words. They think that to do this is to bear witness to God, to bear witness to His words, that to do this is to follow God’s way; they think that to do this is to live by God’s words, that to do this is to bring His words into their actual lives, that doing this will enable them to receive God’s commendation, and toand perfected. But, even as they preach the words of God, they never comply with God’s words in practice, or try to bring themselves in line with what is revealed in God’s words. Rather, they use God’s words to gain the adoration and trust of others by trickery, to enter into management on their own, and to embezzle and steal God’s glory. They hope, vainly, to use the opportunity afforded by spreading God’s words to be awarded God’s working and His commendation. How many years have gone by, but not only have these people been incapable of earning God’s commendation in the process of preaching God’s words, and not only have they been incapable of discovering the way that they should follow in the process of bearing witness to God’s words, and not only have they not aided or supplied themselves in the process of supplying and aiding others by means of God’s words, and not only have they been incapable of knowing God, or awakening in themselves genuine reverence for God, in the process of doing all these things; but, on the contrary, their misunderstandings about God grow ever deeper, their mistrust of Him ever graver, and their imaginings about Him ever more hyperbolic. Supplied and guided by their theories about God’s words, they appear as if completely in their element, as if plying their skills with effortless ease, as if they have found their purpose in life, their mission, and as if they have won new life and been saved, as if, with God’s words rolling crisply off the tongue in recital, they have gained access to the truth, grasped God’s intentions, and discovered the path to knowing God, as if, in the process of preaching God’s words, they often come face to face with God. Also, they are often “moved” to bouts of weeping, and, often led by the “God” in God’s words, they appear to be ceaselessly grasping at His earnest solicitude and kind intention, and at the same time to have grasped God’s salvation of man and His management, to have come to know His essence, and to have understood His righteous disposition. Based on this foundation, they seem to believe even more firmly in God’s existence, to be more cognizant of His exalted state, and to feel even more deeply His grandeur and transcendence. Steeped in the superficial knowledge of God’s words, it would appear that their faith has grown, their resolve to endure suffering has strengthened, and their knowledge of God has deepened. Little do they know that, until they actually experience God’s words, all their knowledge of God and their ideas about Him come out of their own wishful imagination and conjecture. Their faith would not hold up under any kind of test from God, their so-called spirituality and stature would simply not hold up under God’s trial or inspection, their resolution is but a castle built upon the sand, and their so-called knowledge of God too no more than a figment of their imagination. In fact, these people, who have, as it were, put a lot of effort into God’s words, have never ever realized what is real faith, what is real submission, what is real caring, or what is real knowledge of God. They take theory, imagination, knowledge, gift, tradition, superstition, and even the moral values of humanity, and make them into “investment capital” and “military arms” for believing in God and pursuing Him, even making them into the foundations of their belief in God and their pursuit of Him. At the same time, they also take this capital and weaponry and make them into a magic talisman for knowing God, for meeting and contending with God’s inspection, trial, chastisement, and judgment. In the end, what they garner still consists of nothing more than conclusions about God that are steeped in religious connotation, in feudal superstition, and in all that is romantic, grotesque, and enigmatic, and their way of knowing and defining God is stamped in the same mold as that of people who believe only in Heaven Above, or the Old Man in the Sky, while God’s realness, His essence, His disposition, His possessions and being, and so forth, all that has to do with the real God Himself, are things that their knowing has failed to grasp, is completely irrelevant to and even poles apart from. In this way, although they live under the provision and nourishment of God’s words, they are nevertheless unable truly to tread the path of fearing God and shunning evil. The true reason for this is that they have never become acquainted with God, neither have they ever had genuine contact or communion with Him, and so it is impossible for them to arrive at mutual understanding with God, or to awaken in themselves genuine belief in, pursuit of, or worship for God. That they should thus regard God’s words, that they should thus regard God—this perspective and attitude has doomed them to return empty-handed from their endeavors, has doomed them never in all eternity to be able to tread the path of fearing God and shunning evil. The goal for which they are aiming, and the direction in which they are going, signifies that they are God’s enemies through eternity, and that through eternity they will never be able to receive salvation.
Excerpted from “Knowing God Is the Path to Fearing God and Shunning Evil”