4. Come under the Creator’s dominion and face death calmly
At the moment when a person is born, one lonely soul begins its experience of life on earth, its experience of the Creator’s authority which the Creator has arranged for it. Needless to say, for the person, the soul, this is an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge of the Creator’s sovereignty, to come to know His authority and to experience it personally. People live their lives under the laws of fate laid out for them by the Creator, and for any rational person with a conscience, coming to terms with the Creator’s sovereignty and recognizing His authority over the course of their several decades on earth is not a difficult thing to do. Therefore it should be very easy for every person to recognize, through his or her own life experiences over the several decades, that all human fates are predestined, and to grasp or to sum up what it means to be alive. At the same time that one embraces these life lessons, one will gradually come to understand where life comes from, to grasp what the heart truly needs, what will lead one to the true path of life, what the mission and goal of a human life ought to be; and one will gradually recognize that if one does not worship the Creator, if one does not come under His dominion, then when one confronts death—when a soul is about to face the Creator once more—one’s heart will be filled with boundless dread and unease. If a person has existed in the world for a handful of decades and yet not come to know where human life comes from, not yet recognized in whose palm human fate rests, then it is no wonder that he or she will not be able to face death calmly. A person who has gained the knowledge of the Creator’s sovereignty after experiencing several decades of life, is a person with a correct appreciation for the meaning and value of life; a person with a deep knowledge of life’s purpose, with real experience and understanding of the Creator’s sovereignty; and even more, a person who is able to submit to the Creator’s authority. Such a person understands the meaning of God’s creation of mankind, understands that man should worship the Creator, that everything man possesses comes from the Creator and will return to Him some day not far in the future; such a person understands that the Creator arranges man’s birth and has sovereignty over man’s death, and that both life and death are predestined by the Creator’s authority. So, when one truly grasps these things, one will naturally be able to face death calmly, to lay aside all of one’s worldly possessions calmly, accept and submit happily to all that follows, and welcome the last life-juncture arranged by the Creator rather than blindly dread it and struggle against it. If one views life as an opportunity to experience the Creator’s sovereignty and come to know His authority, if one sees one’s life as a rare chance to perform one’s duty as a created human being and to fulfill one’s mission, then one will necessarily have the correct outlook on life, will live a life blessed and guided by the Creator, will walk in the light of the Creator, know the Creator’s sovereignty, come under His dominion, become a witness to His miraculous deeds and to His authority. Needless to say, such a person will necessarily be loved and accepted by the Creator, and only such a person can hold a calm attitude toward death, can joyfully welcome life’s final juncture. Job obviously held this kind of attitude toward death; he was in a position to happily accept the final juncture of life, and having brought his life’s journey to a smooth conclusion, having completed his mission in life, he returned to the Creator’s side.
5. Job’s pursuits and gains in life allowed him to calmly face death
In Scripture it is written about Job: “So Job died, being old and full of days.” (Job 42:17) This means that when Job passed away, he had no regrets and felt no pain, but departed naturally from this world. As everyone knows, Job was a man who feared God and shunned evil when he was alive; God commended his righteous deeds, people remembered them, and his life, more than anyone’s, had worth and significance. Job enjoyed God’s blessings and was called righteous by Him on earth, and he was also tried by God and tested by Satan; he stood witness for God and deserved to be called a “righteous person.” During the several decades after he was tried by God, he lived a life that was even more valuable, meaningful, grounded, and peaceful than before. Because of his righteous deeds, God tried him; because of his righteous deeds, God appeared to him and spoke to him directly. So, during the years after he was tried Job understood and appreciated life’s value in a more concrete way, attained a deeper understanding of the Creator’s sovereignty, and gained a more precise and certain knowledge of how the Creator gives and takes away His blessings. The Bible records that Jehovah God bestowed even greater blessings upon Job than He did before, putting Job in an even better position to know the Creator’s sovereignty and to face death calmly. So Job, when he grew old and faced death, certainly would not have been anxious about his property. He had no worries, had nothing to regret, and of course did not fear death; for he spent all his life walking the God-fearing, evil-shunning way, and had no reason to worry about his own end. How many people today could act in all the ways Job did when he confronted his own death? Why is no one capable of maintaining such a simple outward bearing? There is only one reason: Job lived his life in the subjective pursuit of belief, recognition, and submission to God’s sovereignty, and it was with this belief, recognition, and submission that he passed the important junctures in life, lived out his last years, and greeted his life’s final juncture. Regardless of what Job experienced, his pursuits and goals in life were happy, not painful. He was happy not only because of the blessings or commendation bestowed on him by the Creator, but more importantly, because of his pursuits and life goals, because of the gradual knowledge and true understanding of the Creator’s sovereignty that he attained through revering God and shunning evil, and moreover, because of the wondrous deeds of His that Job experienced personally during his time as a subject to the Creator’s sovereignty, and the warm and unforgettable experiences and memories of the coexistence, acquaintance, and mutual understanding between him and God; because of the comfort and happiness that came from knowing the Creator’s will; because of the reverence that arose after seeing that He is great, wondrous, lovable, and faithful. The reason that Job was able to face death without any suffering was that he knew that, in dying, he would return to the Creator’s side. And it was his pursuits and gains in life that allowed him to face death calmly, to face the prospect of the Creator taking back his life, with an even heart, and moreover, to stand up, unsullied and free from care, before the Creator. Can people nowadays achieve the kind of happiness that Job possessed? Are you yourselves in a position to do so? Since people nowadays are, why are they unable to live happily, like Job did? Why are they unable to escape the suffering from the fear of death? When facing death, some people wet themselves; others shiver, faint, lash out against Heaven and man alike, even wail and weep. These are by no means the sudden reactions that occur when death draws near. People behave in these embarrassing ways mainly because, deep in their hearts, they fear death, because they do not have a clear knowledge and appreciation of God’s sovereignty and His arrangements, much less truly submit to them; because people want nothing but to arrange and govern everything themselves, to control their own fates, their own lives and death. It is no wonder, therefore, that people are never able to escape the fear of death.
6. Only by accepting the Creator’s sovereignty can one return to His side
When one does not have a clear knowledge and experience of God’s sovereignty and of His arrangements, one’s knowledge of fate and of death will necessarily be incoherent. People cannot see clearly that all this rests in God’s palm, do not realize that God is in control of and holds sovereignty over them, do not recognize that man cannot cast off or escape such sovereignty; and so when facing death there is no end to their last words, worries, and regrets. They are weighed down by so much baggage, so much reluctance, so much confusion, and all this causes them to fear death. For any person born into this world, their birth is necessary and their death inevitable, and no one can surpass this course. If one wishes to depart from this world painlessly, if one wants to be able to face life’s final juncture with no reluctance or worry, the only way is to leave no regrets. And the only way to depart without regrets is to know the Creator’s sovereignty, to know His authority, and to submit to them. Only in this way can one stay far from human strifes, from evil, from Satan’s bondage; only in this way can one live a life like Job’s, guided and blessed by the Creator, a life that is free and liberated, a life with value and meaning, a life that is honest and openhearted; only in this way can one submit, like Job, to be tried and deprived by the Creator, submit to the Creator’s orchestrations and arrangements; only in this way can one worship the Creator all one’s life and win His commendation, as Job did, and hear His voice, see Him appear; only in this way can one live and die happily, like Job, with no pain, no worry, no regrets; only in this way can one live in light, like Job, pass every one of life’s junctures in light, smoothly complete one’s journey in light, successfully achieve one’s mission—to experience, learn, and come to know the Creator’s sovereignty as a created being—and pass away in light, and for ever after stand at the Creator’s side as a created human being, commended by Him.
Do Not Miss the Opportunity to Know the Creator’s Sovereignty
The six junctures described above are crucial phases laid out by the Creator that every normal person must undergo in his or her life. Every one of these junctures is real; none of them can be circumvented, and all bear a relationship to the Creator’s predestination and His sovereignty. So for a human being, each of these junctures is an important checkpoint, and how to pass through each of them smoothly is a very serious question that all of you now face.
The handful of decades that make up a human life are neither long nor short. The twenty-odd years between birth and coming of age pass in an eyeblink, and though at this point in life a person is considered an adult, people in this age group know close to nothing about human life and human fate. As they gain more experience, they stride gradually into middle age. People in their thirties and forties acquire a nascent experience of life and fate, but their ideas about these things are still very foggy. It is not till age forty that some people begin to understand mankind and the universe, which were created by God, to grasp what human life is all about, what human fate is all about. Some people, though they have long been followers of God and are now middle-aged, still do not possess an accurate knowledge and definition of God’s sovereignty, much less true submission. Some people care about nothing other than seeking to receive blessings, and though they have lived for many years, they do not know or understand in the least the fact of the Creator’s sovereignty over human fate, and so have not entered into a bit of the practical lesson of “submitting to God’s orchestrations and arrangements.” Such people are thoroughly foolish; such people live their lives in vain.
If a human life is divided up according to one’s degree of life experience and one’s knowledge of human fate, it will roughly break down into three phases. The first phase is youth, the years between birth and middle age, or from birth till thirty. The second phase is maturation, from middle age to old age, or from thirty till sixty. And the third phase is one’s mature period, from old age, beginning at sixty, till one departs from the world. In other words, from birth to middle age, most people’s knowledge of fate and life is limited to parroting others’ ideas; it has almost no real, practical substance. During this period, one’s outlook on life and how one makes one’s way in the world are all very superficial and naive. This is one’s juvenile period. Only after one has tasted all the joys and sorrows of life does one gain a real understanding of fate, does one—subconsciously, deep in one’s heart—gradually come to appreciate the irreversibility of fate, and slowly realize that the Creator’s sovereignty over human fate truly exists. This is one’s maturation period. When one has ceased to struggle against fate, and when one is no longer willing to be drawn into strifes, but knows one’s lot, submits to Heaven’s will, sums up one’s own achievements and errors in life, and is awaiting the Creator’s judgment on one’s life—this is one’s mature period. Considering the different kinds of experiences and gains that people obtain during these three periods, under normal circumstances one’s window of opportunity to know the Creator’s sovereignty is not very large. If one lives to be sixty, one has only thirty years or so to know God’s sovereignty; if one wants a longer period of time, that is only possible if one’s life is long enough, if one is able to live a century. So I say, according to the normal laws of human existence, though it is a very long process from when one first encounters the subject of “knowing the Creator’s sovereignty” to when one is able to recognize the fact of the Creator’s sovereignty, and from then till the point when one is able to submit to it, if one actually counts up the years, there are no more than thirty or forty during which one has the chance to gain these rewards. And often, people get carried away by their desires and their ambitions to receive blessings; they cannot discern where the essence of human life lies, do not grasp the importance of knowing the Creator’s sovereignty, and so they do not cherish this precious opportunity to enter into the human world to experience human life, experience the Creator’s sovereignty, and do not realize how invaluable it is for a created being to receive the Creator’s personal guidance. So I say, those people who want God’s work to end quickly, who wish God would arrange man’s end as soon as possible, so that they could immediately behold His real person and soon be blessed, are guilty of the worst kind of disobedience and foolish in the extreme. And those who desire, during their limited time, to grasp this unique opportunity to know the Creator’s sovereignty, are the wise people, the brilliant ones. These two different desires expose two vastly different outlooks and pursuits: Those who seek blessings are selfish and base; they show no consideration for God’s will, never seek to know God’s sovereignty, never desire to submit to it, simply want to live as they please. They are blithe degenerates; they are the ones to be destroyed. Those who seek to know God are able to set aside their desires, are willing to submit to God’s sovereignty and God’s arrangements; they try to be the kind of people who are submissive to God’s authority and satisfy God’s desire. Such people live in light, live in the midst of God’s blessings; they will surely be commended by God. No matter what, human choice is useless, humans have no say in how long God’s work will take. It is better for people to put themselves at the mercy of God, to submit to His sovereignty. If you do not put yourself at His mercy, what can you do? Will God suffer a loss? If you do not put yourself at His mercy, if you try to be in charge, you are making a foolish choice, and you are the only one who will suffer a loss in the end. Only if people cooperate with God as soon as possible, only if they make haste to accept His orchestrations, know His authority, and recognize all He has done for them, will they have hope, will their lives not be lived in vain, will they attain salvation.