Though many people believe in God, few understand what faith in God means, and what they must do to conform to God’s will. This is because, though people are familiar with the word “God” and phrases such as “the work of God,” they do not know God, and still less do they know His work. No wonder, then, that all those who do not know God are muddled in their belief of Him. People do not take belief in God seriously, and this is entirely because believing in God is too unfamiliar, too strange for them. In this way, they fall short of God’s demands. In other words, if people do not know God, and do not know His work, then they are not fit for God’s use, and still less are they able to satisfy His will. “Belief in God” means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept as regards believing 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 the following: On the basis of the belief that God holds sovereignty over all things, one experiences His words and His work, purges one’s corrupt disposition, satisfies the will of God, and comes to know God. Only a journey of this kind may be called “faith in God.” Yet people often see belief in God as a simple and frivolous matter. People who believe in God in this way have lost what it means to believe in God, and though they may continue to believe until the very end, they shall never gain God’s approval, because they tread upon the wrong path. There are still those today who believe in God according to letters and in hollow doctrine. They do not know that they lack the essence of belief in God, and they cannot receive God’s approval. Still they pray to God for blessings of safety and sufficient grace. Let us stop, quiet our hearts, and ask ourselves: Can it be that believing in God really is the easiest thing on earth? Can it be that believing in God means nothing more than receiving much grace from God? Are people who believe in God without knowing Him or who believe in God and yet oppose Him really able to satisfy the will of God?
God and man cannot be spoken of on equal terms. His essence and His work are most unfathomable and incomprehensible to man. If God does not personally do His work and speak His words in the world of man, then man would never be able to understand the will of God. And so, even those who have devoted their entire lives to God would not be able to receive His approval. If God does not set to work, then however well man does, it will all be for naught, because God’s thoughts will always be higher than the thoughts of man, and God’s wisdom is beyond man’s comprehension. And so I say that those who claim to “fully understand” God and His work are an inept lot; they are all overweening and ignorant. Man should not define the work of God; moreover, man cannot define the work of God. In the eyes of God, man is as insignificant as an ant; so how can man fathom God’s work? Those who like to spout, “God does not work in this or that way,” or “God is like this or that”—are they not speaking arrogantly? We should all know that man, who is of the flesh, has been corrupted by Satan. Mankind’s very nature is to oppose God. Mankind cannot be on par with God, much less can mankind hope to advise the work of God. As for how God guides man, this is the work of God Himself. It is fitting that man should submit, without professing this or that view, for man is but dust. Since it is our intent to seek God, we should not superimpose our notions onto His work for God’s consideration, still less should we employ our corrupt disposition to its utmost to deliberately oppose the work of God. Would that not make us antichrists? How could such people believe in God? Since we believe that there is a God, and since we wish to satisfy Him and to see Him, we should seek the way of truth, and should look for a way to be compatible with God. We should not stand in stiff-necked opposition to Him. What good could possibly come of such actions?
Today, God has done new work. You may not be able to accept these words, and they may seem odd to you, but I would advise you not to expose your naturalness, for only those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness before God can obtain the truth, and only those who are truly devout can be enlightened and guided by Him. Results are obtained by seeking the truth with sober tranquility, not with quarrel and contention. When I say that “today, God has done new work,” I am referring to the matter of God’s returning to the flesh. Perhaps these words do not bother you; perhaps you despise them; or even perhaps they are of great interest to you. Whatever the case, I hope that all those who truly yearn for God to appear can face this fact and give it their careful scrutiny, rather than jump to conclusions about it; that is what a wise person should do.
It is not difficult to inquire into such a thing, but it requires each of us to know this one truth: He who is God incarnate shall possess the essence of God, and He who is God incarnate shall possess the expression of God. Since God becomes flesh, He shall bring forth the work He intends to do, and since God becomes flesh, He shall express what He is, and shall be able to bring the truth to man, bestow life upon him, and point the way for him. Flesh that does not have the essence of God is decidedly not the incarnate God; of this there is no doubt. If man intends to inquire into whether it is God’s incarnate flesh, then he must corroborate this from the disposition He expresses and the words He speaks. Which is to say, to corroborate whether or not it is God’s incarnate flesh, and whether or not it is the true way, one must discriminate on the basis of His essence. And so, in determining whether it is the flesh of God incarnate, the key lies in His essence (His work, His utterances, His disposition, and many other aspects), rather than external appearance. If man scrutinizes only His external appearance, and as a result overlooks His essence, this shows that man is benighted and ignorant. External appearance cannot determine essence; what’s more, the work of God can never conform to the notions of man. Did not Jesus’ outward appearance run counter to the notions of man? Were not His countenance and dress unable to provide any clues as to His true identity? Did not the earliest Pharisees oppose Jesus precisely because they merely looked at His external appearance, and did not take to heart the words in His mouth? It is My hope that each and every brother and sister who seeks the appearance of God will not repeat the tragedy of history. You must not become the Pharisees of modern times and nail God to the cross again. You should carefully consider how to welcome the return of God, and you should have a clear mind regarding how to be someone who submits to the truth. This is the responsibility of everyone who is waiting for Jesus to return riding upon a cloud. We should rub our spiritual eyes to make them clear, and not become mired in words of exaggerated fantasy. We should think about the practical work of God, and take a look at the practical aspect of God. Do not get carried away or lose yourselves in daydreams, always longing for the day when the Lord Jesus, riding upon a cloud, suddenly descends among you, and takes you who have never known or seen Him, and who do not know how to do His will. It is better to think upon more practical matters!
You may have opened this book for the purpose of research, or with the intention of accepting; whatever your attitude, I hope that you will read it to the end, and will not put it aside easily. Perhaps, after reading these words, your attitude will change, but that depends on your motivation and the degree of your understanding. There is, however, one thing that you should know: The word of God cannot be made out to be the word of man, and still less can one make the word of man to be the word of God. A man used by God is not the incarnate God, and the incarnate God is not a man used by God. In this, there is an essential difference. Perhaps, after reading these words, you do not acknowledge them to be the words of God, but only as the enlightenment that man has gained. In that case, you are blinded by ignorance. How can the words of God be the same as the enlightenment that man has gained? The words of God incarnate open up a new age, guide all of mankind, reveal mysteries, and show man the direction he is to take in the new age. The enlightenment obtained by man is but simple instructions for practice or knowledge. It cannot guide all of mankind into a new age or reveal the mysteries of God Himself. When all is said and done, God is God, and man is man. God has the essence of God, and man has the essence of man. If man views the words spoken by God as simple enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, and takes the words of the apostles and prophets as words personally spoken by God, that would be man’s mistake. No matter what, you should never mix up right and wrong, or make high out to be low, or mistake the profound for the shallow; no matter what, you should never deliberately refute what you know to be the truth. Everyone who believes there is a God should inquire into problems from the correct standpoint, and accept God’s new work and His new words from the perspective of His created being; otherwise, they will be cast out by God.
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.
If people remain stuck in the Age of Grace, then they shall never be rid of their corrupt disposition, let alone know the inherent disposition of God. If people always live in the midst of an abundance of grace, but do not have the way of life that allows them to know God or to satisfy Him, then they will never truly gain Him in their belief in Him. This type of belief is pitiful indeed. When you have finished reading this book, when you have experienced each step of the work of God incarnate in the Age of Kingdom, you will feel that desires you have had for many years have finally been realized. You will feel that only now have you truly seen God face to face; only now have you gazed upon His countenance, heard His personal utterances, appreciated the wisdom of His work, and truly sensed how real and almighty He is. You will feel that you have gained many things that people in times past had never seen nor possessed. At this time, you will clearly know what it is to believe in God, and what it is to conform to God’s will. Of course, if you cling to views of the past, and reject or deny the fact of the second incarnation of God, then you will remain empty-handed, acquiring nothing, and ultimately you will be pronounced guilty of opposing God. Those who are able to obey the truth and submit to the work of God shall be claimed under the name of the second incarnate God—the Almighty. They will be able to accept God’s personal guidance, gaining more and higher truths, as well as real life. They shall behold the vision never seen before by people of the past: “And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shines in its strength” (Revelation 1:12–16). This vision is the expression of God’s entire disposition, and the expression of His entire disposition is also the expression of the work of God in His present incarnation. In the torrents of chastisements and judgments, the Son of man expresses His inherent disposition by means of utterances, allowing all those who accept His chastisement and judgment to see the true face of the Son of man, which is a faithful depiction of the face of the Son of man seen by John. (Of course, all of this will be invisible to those who do not accept the work of God in the Age of Kingdom.) The true face of God cannot be fully articulated using human language, and so God uses the means by which He expresses His inherent disposition to show His true face to man. Which is to say that all those who have appreciated the inherent disposition of the Son of man have seen the true face of the Son of man, for God is too great and cannot be fully articulated using human language. Once man has experienced each step of God’s work in the Age of Kingdom, then he shall know the true meaning of John’s words when he spoke of the Son of man among the lampstands: “His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shines in its strength.” At that time, you shall know beyond all doubt that this ordinary flesh that has said so much is undeniably the second incarnate God. Moreover, you shall truly sense how blessed you are, and feel yourself to be the most fortunate. Are you not willing to accept this blessing?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God.