c. The relationship between the three stages of God’s work
Words of Almighty God of the Last Days
The 6,000 years of work of God’s management are divided into three stages: the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom. These three stages of work are all for the sake of mankind’s salvation, which is to say, they are for the salvation of mankind that has been severely corrupted by Satan. At the same time, however, they are also so that God may do battle with Satan. Thus, just as the work of salvation is divided into three stages, so the battle with Satan is also divided into three stages, and these two aspects of God’s work are conducted simultaneously. The battle with Satan is actually for the sake of mankind’s salvation, and because the work of mankind’s salvation is not something that can be successfully completed in a single stage, the battle with Satan is also divided into phases and periods, and war is waged upon Satan in accordance with the needs of man and the extent of Satan’s corruption of him. Perhaps, in man’s imagination, he believes that in this battle God will take up arms against Satan, in the same way that two armies would fight each other. This is just what man’s intellect is capable of imagining; it is a supremely vague and unrealistic idea, yet it is what man believes. And because I say here that the means of man’s salvation is through battle with Satan, man imagines that this is how the battle is conducted. There are three stages to the work of man’s salvation, which is to say that the battle with Satan has been split into three stages in order to defeat Satan once and for all. Yet the inner truth of the entire work of the battle with Satan is that its effects are achieved through several steps of work: bestowing grace upon man, becoming man’s sin offering, forgiving the sins of man, conquering man, and making man perfect. As a matter of fact, the battle with Satan is not the taking up of arms against Satan, but the salvation of man, the working of the life of man, and the changing of man’s disposition so that he may bear testimony to God. This is how Satan is defeated. Satan is defeated through changing the corrupt disposition of man. When Satan has been defeated, that is, when man has been completely saved, then the humiliated Satan will be completely bound, and in this way, man will have been completely saved.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination
From the work of Jehovah to that of Jesus, and from the work of Jesus to that of this current stage, these three stages cover in a continuous thread the entire gamut of God’s management, and they are all the work of one Spirit. Since the creation of the world, God has always been at work managing mankind. He is the Beginning and the End, He is the First and the Last, and He is the One who begins an age and the One who brings the age to an end. The three stages of work, in different ages and different locations, are unmistakably the work of one Spirit. All those who separate these three stages stand in opposition to God. Now, it behooves you to understand that all the work from the first stage until today is the work of one God, the work of one Spirit. Of this there can be no doubt.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Vision of God’s Work (3)
After the work of Jehovah, Jesus became flesh to do His work amongst man. His work was not carried out in isolation, but was built upon the work of Jehovah. It was work for a new age that God did after He had concluded the Age of Law. Similarly, after the work of Jesus ended, God went on with His work for the next age, because the entire management of God is always progressing forward. When the old age passes, it will be replaced by a new age, and once the old work has been completed, there will be new work to continue God’s management. This incarnation is God’s second incarnation, which follows upon Jesus’ work. Of course, this incarnation does not occur independently; it is the third stage of work after the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. Every time God initiates a new stage of work, there must always be a new beginning and it must always bring a new age. So too are there corresponding changes in the disposition of God, in the manner of His working, in the location of His work, and in His name. No wonder, then, that it is difficult for man to accept the work of God in the new age. But regardless of how He is opposed by man, God is always doing His work, and is always leading the whole of mankind forward. When Jesus came into the world of man, He ushered in the Age of Grace and ended the Age of Law. During the last days, God once more became flesh, and with this incarnation He ended the Age of Grace and ushered in the Age of Kingdom. All those who are able to accept the second incarnation of God will be led into the Age of Kingdom, and will moreover become able to personally accept the guidance of God. Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition. And so, now that man has been forgiven of his sins, God has returned to the flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment. This work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and they shall gain the truth, the way, and the life.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Preface
The work in the last days is the final stage of the three. It is the work of another new age and does not represent the entirety of the work of management. The six-thousand-year management plan is divided into three stages of work. No one stage alone can represent the work of the three ages, but only one part of a whole. The name Jehovah cannot represent the whole of God’s disposition. The fact that He carried out His work in the Age of Law does not prove that God can only be God under the law. Jehovah set forth laws for man and handed down commandments to him, asking man to build the temple and the altars; the work He did represents only the Age of Law. This work that He did does not prove that God is only a God who asks man to keep the law, or that He is the God in the temple, or that He is the God before the altar. To say this would be untrue. The work done under the law can only represent one age. Therefore, if God only did the work in the Age of Law, then man would confine God within the following definition, saying, “God is the God in the temple, and, in order to serve God we must put on priestly robes and enter the temple.” If the work in the Age of Grace had never been carried out and the Age of Law had continued until the present, man would not know that God is also merciful and loving. If the work in the Age of Law had not been done, and instead only the work in the Age of Grace, then all man would know is that God can only redeem man and forgive man’s sins. Man would know only that He is holy and innocent, and that for man’s sake He is able to sacrifice Himself and be crucified. Man would know only these things but have no understanding of anything else. Each age therefore represents one part of God’s disposition. As for which aspects of God’s disposition are represented in the Age of Law, which in the Age of Grace, and which in this present stage: only when all three stages have been integrated into one whole can they reveal the entirety of God’s disposition. Only when man has come to know all three stages can he understand it fully. None of the three stages can be omitted. You will only see the disposition of God in its entirety after coming to know these three stages of work. The fact that God completed His work in the Age of Law does not prove that He is only the God under the law, and the fact that He completed His work of redemption does not mean that God will forever redeem mankind. These are all conclusions drawn by man. The Age of Grace having come to an end, you cannot then say that God belongs only to the cross and that the cross alone represents the salvation of God. To do so would be to define God. In the present stage, God is mainly doing the work of the word, but you cannot say then that God has never been merciful to man and that all He has brought is chastisement and judgment. The work in the last days lays bare the work of Jehovah and Jesus and all mysteries not understood by man, so as to reveal the destination and the end of mankind and end all the work of salvation among mankind. This stage of work in the last days brings everything to a close. All mysteries not understood by man need to be unraveled to allow man to plumb them to their depths and have a completely clear understanding in his heart. Only then can the human race be classed according to kind. Only after the six-thousand-year management plan is completed will man come to understand the disposition of God in its entirety, for His management will then have come to an end.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)
The work of today has pushed forward the work of the Age of Grace; that is, the work under the entire six-thousand-year management plan has moved forward. Though the Age of Grace has ended, there has been progress in God’s work. Why do I say time and again that this stage of work builds upon the Age of Grace and the Age of Law? Because the work of this day is a continuation of the work done in the Age of Grace, and an advance over that done in the Age of Law. The three stages are tightly interconnected, with each link in the chain closely tied to the next. Why do I also say that this stage of work builds on that done by Jesus? Supposing that this stage did not build on the work done by Jesus, another crucifixion would have to take place in this stage, and the redemptive work of the previous stage would have to be done all over again. This would be meaningless. And so it is not that the work is completely finished, but that the age has moved forward and the level of the work has been raised higher than before. It can be said that this stage of work is built on the foundation of the Age of Law and upon the rock of Jesus’ work. God’s work is built stage by stage, and this stage is not a new beginning. Only the combination of the three stages of work may be deemed the six-thousand-year management plan. The work of this stage is done on the foundation of the work of the Age of Grace. If these two stages of work were unrelated, then why is the crucifixion not repeated in this stage? Why do I not bear the sins of man, but instead come to judge and chastise man directly? If My work to judge and chastise man did not follow the crucifixion, with My coming now not conceived of the Holy Spirit, then I would not be qualified to judge and chastise man. It is precisely because I am one with Jesus that I come directly to chastise and judge man. The work at this stage is built entirely on the work in the preceding stage. That is why only work of this kind can bring man, step by step, into salvation.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Two Incarnations Complete the Significance of the Incarnation
The final stage of work does not stand alone, but is part of the whole formed together with the two previous stages, which is to say that it is impossible to complete the entire work of salvation by only doing one of the three stages of work. Even though the final stage of work is able to fully save man, this does not mean that it is only necessary to carry out this single stage on its own, and that the two previous stages of work are not required to save man from the influence of Satan. No single stage of the three stages can be held up as the only vision that must be known by all mankind, for the entirety of the work of salvation is the three stages of work, not a single stage among them. As long as the work of salvation has not been accomplished, the management of God will be unable to come to a complete end. God’s being, His disposition, and His wisdom are expressed in the entirety of the work of salvation; they are not revealed to man at the very beginning, but have been gradually expressed in the work of salvation. Each stage of the work of salvation expresses part of the disposition of God, and part of His being; no one stage of work can directly and completely express the entirety of God’s being. As such, the work of salvation can only be fully concluded once the three stages of work have been completed, and so man’s knowledge of the entirety of God is inseparable from the three stages of God’s work. What man gains from one stage of work is merely the disposition of God that is expressed in a single part of His work. It cannot represent the disposition and being that is expressed in the stages before or after. That is because the work of saving mankind cannot be finished straight away during one period, or in one location, but gradually becomes deeper according to man’s level of development at different times and places. It is work that is carried out in stages, and it is not completed in a single stage. So, God’s entire wisdom is crystallized in the three stages, rather than in one individual stage. His entire being and His entire wisdom are laid forth in these three stages, and each stage contains His being, and each stage is a record of the wisdom of His work. Man should know the entire disposition of God expressed in these three stages. All this of God’s being is of the utmost importance to all mankind, and if people do not have this knowledge when they worship God, then they are no different from those who worship Buddha. God’s work among man is not hidden from man, and should be known by all of those who worship God. Since God has carried out the three stages of the work of salvation among man, man should know the expression of what He has and is during these three stages of work. This is what must be done by man. What God hides from man is that which man is incapable of achieving, and that which man should not know, whereas that which God shows to man is that which man should know, and that which man should possess. Each of the three stages of work is carried out upon the foundation of the previous stage; it is not carried out independently, separate from the work of salvation. Though there are great differences in the age and the work that is carried out, at its core is still the salvation of mankind, and each stage of the work of salvation is deeper than the last.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God
The entire management of God is divided into three stages, and in each stage, fitting requirements are made of man. Furthermore, as the ages pass and progress, God’s requirements of all mankind become ever higher. Thus, step-by-step, this work of God’s management reaches its climax, until man beholds the fact of the “appearance of the Word in the flesh,” and in this way the requirements of man become even higher, as do the requirements of man to bear testimony. The more man is capable of truly cooperating with God, the more God gains glory. Man’s cooperation is the testimony that he is required to bear, and the testimony that he bears is the practice of man. Therefore, whether or not God’s work can have the due effect, and whether or not there can be true testimony, are inextricably linked to the cooperation and testimony of man. When the work is finished, which is to say, when all of God’s management has reached its end, man will be required to bear higher testimony, and when the work of God reaches its end, the practice and entry of man will reach their zenith. In the past, man was required to comply with the law and the commandments, and he was required to be patient and humble. Today, man is required to obey all of God’s arrangements and possess a supreme love of God, and he is ultimately required to still love God amid tribulation. These three stages are requirements that God makes of man, step-by-step, throughout His entire management. Each stage of God’s work goes deeper than the last, and in each stage the requirements of man are more profound than the last, and in this way, God’s entire management gradually takes shape. It is precisely because the requirements of man are ever higher that man’s disposition comes ever closer to the standards required by God, and only then does the whole of mankind begin to gradually depart from the influence of Satan until, when God’s work comes to a complete end, the whole of mankind will have been saved from the influence of Satan.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Practice
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The Three Stages of Work Are Done by One God
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