Hello Sister An Jing,
You said that you are not willing to attend gatherings on time and that when you feel you have spiritual needs, that is the only time you will actively look for your brothers and sisters to chat. We can think like this because we do not understand what truly believing in God and the importance of gatherings are. Thank the Lord. I will talk a little bit about my understanding about this aspect. I hope it will be useful to you.
What It Means to Truly Believe in God
We all know that the reason why God originally created man was so that man would honor and worship God on earth. The Lord Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Mat 22:37-38). As believers in the Lord, we should all prioritize faith and worshiping God and have normal relationships with God. Gatherings, prayer, communicating the truth, singing hymns and praising God are ways to establish a normal relationship with God. As Christians, these are things that we must do at the very least. God’s words say: “‘Belief in God’ means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept of faith in God. 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 to The Word Appears in the Flesh”). “There are some people whose belief has never been acknowledged in God’s heart. In other words, God does not recognize that these people are His followers, because God does not praise their belief. … They regard believing in God as some kind of amateur hobby, treating God merely as spiritual sustenance…. How does God look upon these people? He views them as non-believers” (“How to Know God’s Disposition and the Result of His Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From here we can see, if our faith in God merely consists of verbal acknowledgement and believing within our hearts, yet we do not pursue the truth, do not experience and practice God’s words but regard faith as spiritual sustenance or a hobby, this is not truly believing in God. God does not praise this sort of faith. True believers in God should frequently come before God, pray to God often, read God’s words often, attend gatherings often and understand more of the truth from God. At the same time, they must bring God’s words into real life. They believe that what happens every day is presided and arranged by God. This is especially the case when they encounter something that is not in accordance with their notions and when they reveal their own corruption and are unable to let go of it. They are able to come before God and reflect upon themselves in accordance with God’s words. They are able to seek in the environment arranged by God the lessons they should learn and the truths they should enter and put into practice. Afterward, they actually put them into practice in accordance with God’s demands, cast off satanic corrupt disposition, live out a normal humanity and in the end, achieve a true understanding of God, obedience to God and love for God. Only this way of experiencing God’s work and words constitutes truly believing in God. We can only obtain God’s approval if we believe in God in this manner. If we do this, in the end, we will be brought into God’s kingdom. Contrarily, if our faith does not involve a normal relationship with God, regular participation in gatherings, prayer, communicating the truth and putting God’s words into practice; if it is just a spare-time faith, if we believe in God a few years yet our corrupt disposition has not changed whatsoever and if we do not have a true understanding of God, God does not acknowledge this sort of faith. There is no difference between this and the faith of unbelievers. If our faith is like this, even though we believe until the very end, we will not be able to obtain God’s approval and salvation.
Church Life Is Essential
If we are unwilling to attend gatherings on time, this indicates that we do not understand the importance of church life. In fact, church life is our life of communicating God’s word and entering into the truth, and it is also the life of experiencing the Holy Spirit’s work and enjoying God’s love. Understanding the truth, entering into the truth and attaining God’s salvation are completely a result that is achieved through the Holy Spirit’s work. Only through our lives in the church where we serve and provide for one another, fulfill our duties and bear witness to God would we be able to easily obtain the Holy Spirit’s work and God’s purification and salvation. In other words, winning God’s approval in regard to our faith and attaining His salvation are inextricably tied to a normal church life. In the Bible, it says: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Heb 10:25). The Lord Jesus said: “Again I say to you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the middle of them” (Mat 18:19-20). From this, we can see, living a church life is one of God’s demands for us as Christians. Since our caliber itself is limited and we do not have the organ to receive the truth, it is very difficult to understand the truths and mysteries within God’s words. Even though we understand a lot of the literal meaning, we understand very little of God’s intentions and the demands that God has for man. But if we consistently participate in church life, pray together with our brothers and sisters, read God’s words and communicate our own understanding, experience and acceptance of God’s words, we will be able to obtain the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and illumination. We will obtain even more light and rewards, we will understand more clearly God’s intentions and requests, and the path of practice will be even clearer. This is especially the case when we do not understand God’s words or encounter various difficulties. If we cooperate with our brothers and sisters to seek God, pray to God and have the Holy Spirit work amongst us, we will be able to understand the esoteric meaning of God’s words and all our problems and difficulties will be resolved because we understand the truth. The more problems we solve in our church life, the more truth we will understand and obtain. This way, we will no longer be annoyed with worldly affairs. Our lives will be effortless and liberating. Afterward, we will be able to tackle the situations we encounter in accordance with God’s intentions and demands. Gradually, God’s words will become the principles and directions with which we handle situations. Under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will walk upon the path of God’s salvation.
If we do not participate in church life, if we occasionally pray to God ourselves and read God’s words, our attainment of the Holy Spirit’s work will be very limited. Without the Holy Spirit’s work, we will not be able to understand the truth, nor will we be able to enter into the reality of the truth. When we encounter difficulties or problems, since we do not understand God’s intentions, we will frequently not know what to do nor how to put the truth into practice. If we occasionally rely on our own notions and imaginations to do things, we will do things that violate God’s intentions and even offend God’s disposition. We will lose the Holy Spirit’s presence, not to mention God’s salvation. God’s words say: “If your spiritual life is not normal, you cannot understand God’s current work; you always feel that it is completely incompatible with your own notions, and you are willing to follow Him, but you lack internal drive. So no matter what God is currently doing, people must cooperate. If people don’t cooperate the Holy Spirit can’t do His work, and if people do not have a heart of cooperation, they cannot attain the work of the Holy Spirit. … If people do not cooperate with God and do not pursue deeper entry, God will take away what they once had. Inside, people are always greedy for ease and would rather enjoy what is already available. They want to gain God’s promises without paying any price at all. These are the extravagant thoughts within mankind. Gaining life itself without paying a price—what has ever been so easy? When someone believes in God and seeks to enter into life and seeks a change in their disposition, they must pay a price and achieve a state where they will always follow God no matter what He does. This is something that people must do. Even if you follow all of this as a rule, you must stick to it, and no matter how great the trials, you cannot let go of your normal relationship with God. You should be able to pray, maintain your church life, and stay with brothers and sisters. When God tries you, you should still seek the truth. This is the minimum for a spiritual life” (“You Ought to Maintain Your Devotion to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From God’s words, we can see that a normal spiritual life is very important to us. Praying, reading God’s words and attending gatherings are all a part of a spiritual life. If we are unable to adhere to these, we will be unable to attain the Holy Spirit’s work. Even though our hearts want to follow God, we will not have faith. Therefore, regardless of how busy our work lives are and how tired our physical bodies are, we must not lose our normal relationship with God. At the minimum, we must maintain a normal spiritual life. We must live before God and seek the truth and put the truth into practice when we encounter situations. Only if we do this will our spiritual life become unyielding. Only then will we have a path that we can take when we encounter situations.
Living Before God and Receiving God’s Protection
The Lord Jesus said: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mat 11:30). The Lord hopes that we can live effortlessly and freely. He does not want to see us being wrapped up with the secular world and suffer. So why is it that we are not willing to attend gatherings due to feeling too tired from working? Actually, such ideas originate from Satan. They contain Satan’s evil schemes within. God says: “What God wants to do in man is just what Satan wants to destroy, and what Satan wants to destroy is expressed through man without being hidden at all. … Satan’s destruction in mankind is also clearly represented—they are more and more depraved and their conditions are sinking lower and lower. If it’s dire enough, they could be captured by Satan” (“Interpretation of the Fifteenth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Satan is God’s enemy. It opposes God in all respects and it frequently targets and attacks our weak points. Since we have been corrupted by Satan, inside, we are filled with Satan’s poison. We love wealth, fame, status and fleshly enjoyment, etc. We do not hesitate to rack our brains for the sake of wealth or fame and for these goals we will pay any price. And so, Satan uses our corrupt dispositions to mire us in fleshly entanglements, to disrupt our normal relationship with God and to make us shun God and betray Him, and in the end achieve its goal of devouring us. If we satisfy our own physical desires, if we do not frequently draw near to God, it is very easy for us to get caught in Satan’s net, follow the world’s evil trends and become wantonly unrestrained to the point where we do certain things that violate God’s intentions and cause God to detest us. Gatherings are our opportunity to draw near to God. They close the distance between us and God and allow us to frequently live before God, accept God’s examination and receive God’s care and protection. Once our relationship with God has become normal, our spirits will become sharp, and we will be able to distinguish the matters that God hates and God likes. When we encounter situations, we will be able to stand on God’s side, and we will not follow our fleshly preferences and do something that contradicts or resists God. As a result of this, we will receive even more of God’s blessings. Therefore, a church life is very important in regard to whether we can obtain God’s approval and salvation. When our faith is weak and our state is abnormal, we must come before God more, pray more to God and rely on God. We must not leave the church life. At the same time, we must set our resolve before God to satisfy Him. When we cooperate with God in this way, Satan’s schemes will not have any effect upon us and in a panic, it will flee. Once our relationship with God is normal, we will not feel that attending gatherings is constraining. On the contrary, we will feel that attending gatherings is a way for us to become intimate with God and enjoy God’s love.
Thank God for His guidance! Sister An Jing, this is where we will end our fellowship today. I hope the understanding that was shared today is of benefit to you. If you have any questions, let’s discuss them together.