Concerning the Bible (3)
Not everything in the Bible is a record of the words personally spoken by God. The Bible simply documents the previous two stages of God’s work, of which one part is a record of the foretelling of the prophets, and one part is the experiences and knowledge written by people used by God throughout the ages. Human experiences are tainted with human opinions and knowledge, and this is something which is unavoidable. In many of the books of the Bible are human notions, human biases, and humans’ absurd comprehension. Of course, most of the words are the result of the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and they are correct understandings—yet it still cannot be said that they are entirely accurate expressions of the truth. Their views on certain things are nothing more than knowledge derived from personal experience, or the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The foretelling of the prophets was personally instructed by God: The prophecies of the like of Isaiah, Daniel, Ezra, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel came from the direct instruction of the Holy Spirit; these people were seers, they had received the Spirit of prophecy, and they were all prophets of the Old Testament. During the Age of Law, these people, who had received the inspirations of Jehovah, spoke many prophecies, which were directly instructed by Jehovah. And why did Jehovah work in them? Because the people of Israel were God’s chosen people, and the work of prophets had to be done among them; that is why the prophets were able to receive such revelations. In fact, they themselves did not understand God’s revelations to them. The Holy Spirit spoke those words through their mouths so that the people of the future could comprehend those things, and see that they really were the work of the Spirit of God, of the Holy Spirit, and did not come from man, and to give them confirmation of the Holy Spirit’s work. During the Age of Grace, Jesus Himself did all this work in their stead, and so people no longer spoke prophecy. So was Jesus a prophet? Jesus was, of course, a prophet, but He was also able to do the work of the apostles—He could both speak prophecy and preach and teach people across the land. Yet the work He did and the identity He represented were not the same. He came to redeem all mankind, to redeem man from sin; He was a prophet, and an apostle, but more than that He was Christ. A prophet may speak prophecy, but it cannot be said that such a prophet is Christ. At that time, Jesus spoke much prophecy, and so it can be said that He was a prophet, but it cannot be said that He was a prophet and so not Christ. That is because He represented God Himself in carrying out a stage of work, and His identity was different from that of Isaiah: He came to complete the work of redemption, and He also provided for the life of man, and the Spirit of God came unto Him directly. In the work He did, there were no inspirations from the Spirit of God or instructions from Jehovah. Instead, the Spirit worked directly—which is enough to prove that Jesus was not the same as a prophet. The work He did was the work of redemption, second to which came the speaking of prophecy. He was a prophet, an apostle, but more than that He was the Redeemer. The foretellers, meanwhile, could only speak prophecy, and were incapable of representing God’s Spirit in doing any other work. Because Jesus did much work that had never before been done by man, and did the work of redeeming mankind, He was thus different from the likes of Isaiah. That some people do not accept the stream of today is because this has created an obstacle for them. They say: “In the Old Testament many prophets also spoke many words—so why weren’t they God become flesh? The God of today speaks words—is that enough to prove that He is God incarnate? You do not exalt the Bible, nor do you study it—so what basis do you have for saying that He is the incarnation of God? You say that they are instructed by the Holy Spirit, and you believe that this stage of work is work personally done by God—but what is your basis for this? You focus your attention on the words of God today, and it seems as if you have denied the Bible, and put it to one side.” And so they say that you believe in heresy and heterodoxy.
If you wish to bear witness to God’s work during the last days, then you must understand the inside story of the Bible, the structure of the Bible, and the essence of the Bible. Today, people believe the Bible is God, and that God is the Bible. So, too, do they believe that all the words of the Bible were the only words God spoke, and that they were all said by God. Those who believe in God even think that, although all of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament were written by people, they were all given by inspiration of God, and a record of the utterances of the Holy Spirit. This is the erroneous comprehension of man, and it does not completely accord with the facts. In fact, apart from the books of prophecy, most of the Old Testament is a historical record. Some of the epistles of the New Testament come from people’s experiences, and some come from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit; the Pauline epistles, for example, arose from the work of a man, they were all the result of the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, and they were written for the churches, and were words of exhortation and encouragement for the brothers and sisters of the churches. They were not words spoken by the Holy Spirit—Paul could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit, and neither was he a prophet, much less did he see the visions that John beheld. His epistles were written for the churches of Ephesus, Philadelphia, Galatia, and other churches. And thus, the Pauline epistles of the New Testament are epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, and not inspirations from the Holy Spirit, nor are they the direct utterances of the Holy Spirit. They are merely words of exhortation, comfort, and encouragement that he wrote for the churches during the course of his work. So, too, are they a record of much of Paul’s work at the time. They were written for all who are brothers and sisters in the Lord, so that the brothers and sisters of the churches at that time would follow his advice and abide by the way of repentance of the Lord Jesus. By no means did Paul say that, be they the churches of that time or of the future, all must eat and drink the things he wrote, nor did he say that his words all came from God. According to the circumstances of the church at that time, he simply communed with the brothers and sisters, and exhorted them, and inspired belief in them, and he simply preached or reminded people and exhorted them. His words were based upon his own burden, and he supported the people through these words. He did the work of an apostle of the churches of that time, he was a worker who was used by the Lord Jesus, and thus he must take on the responsibility for the churches, and must undertake the work of the churches, he had to learn about the states of the brothers and sisters—and because of this, he wrote epistles for all of the brothers and sisters in the Lord. All he said that was edifying and positive to people was right, but it did not represent the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and it could not represent God. It is an egregious understanding, and a tremendous blasphemy, for people to treat the records of a man’s experiences and a man’s epistles as the words spoken by the Holy Spirit to the churches! That is particularly true when it comes to the epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, for his epistles were written for the brothers and sisters based on the circumstances and situation of each church at the time, and were in order to exhort the brothers and sisters in the Lord, so that they could receive the grace of the Lord Jesus. His epistles were in order to rouse the brothers and sisters of that time. It can be said that this was his own burden, and was also the burden given to him by the Holy Spirit; after all, he was an apostle who led the churches of the time, who wrote epistles for the churches and exhorted them—that was his responsibility. His identity was merely that of a working apostle, and he was merely an apostle who was sent by God; he was not a prophet, nor a foreteller. To him, his own work and the lives of the brothers and sisters were of the utmost importance. Thus, he could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit. His words were not the words of the Holy Spirit, much less could they be said to be the words of God, for Paul was nothing more than a creature of God, and was certainly not the incarnation of God. His identity was not the same as that of Jesus. The words of Jesus were the words of the Holy Spirit, they were the words of God, for His identity was that of Christ—the Son of God. How could Paul be His equal? If people see the epistles or words like Paul’s as the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and worship them as God, then it can only be said that they are too indiscriminating. To speak more harshly, is this not simply blasphemy? How could a man talk on behalf of God? And how could people bow down before the records of his epistles and of the words he spoke as if they were a holy book, or a heavenly book? Could the words of God be casually uttered by a man? How could a man talk on behalf of God? And so, what say you—could the epistles that he wrote for the churches not be tainted with his own ideas? How could they not be tainted with human ideas? He wrote epistles for the churches based on his personal experiences and his own knowledge. For instance, Paul wrote an epistle to the Galatian churches which contained a certain opinion, and Peter wrote another, which had another view. Which of them came from the Holy Spirit? No one can say for sure. Thus, it can only be said that they both bore a burden for the churches, yet their letters represent their stature, they represent their provision and support for the brothers and sisters, and their burden toward the churches, and they only represent human work—they were not entirely of the Holy Spirit. If you say that his epistles are the words of the Holy Spirit, then you are absurd, and you are committing blasphemy! The Pauline epistles and the other epistles of the New Testament are equivalent to the memoirs of the more recent spiritual figures: They are on a par with the books of Watchman Nee or the experiences of Lawrence, and so on. It is simply that the books of recent spiritual figures are not compiled into the New Testament, yet the essence of these people was the same: They were people who were used by the Holy Spirit during a certain period, and they could not directly represent God.
The Gospel of Matthew of the New Testament documents Jesus’ genealogy. At the start, it says that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham and of David, and the son of Joseph; next it says that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin—which would mean He was not the son of Joseph or the descendant of Abraham and of David. The genealogy, though, insists on associating Jesus with Joseph. Next, the genealogy begins to record the process by which Jesus was born. It says Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that He was born of a virgin, and not the son of Joseph. Yet in the genealogy it is clearly written that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and because the genealogy is written for Jesus, it records forty-two generations. When it goes to the generation of Joseph, it hurriedly says that Joseph was the husband of Mary, words which are given in order to prove that Jesus was the descendant of Abraham. Is this not a contradiction? The genealogy clearly documents Joseph’s ancestry, it is obviously the genealogy of Joseph, but Matthew insists that it is the genealogy of Jesus. Does this not deny the fact of Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit? Thus, is the genealogy by Matthew not a human idea? It is ridiculous! This is how you can know that this book did not come entirely from the Holy Spirit. There are, perhaps, some people who think that God must have a genealogy on earth, as a result of which they assign Jesus as the forty-second generation of Abraham. That is really ridiculous! After arriving on earth, how could God have a genealogy? If you say that God has a genealogy, do you not rank Him among the creatures of God? For God is not of the earth, He is the Lord of creation, and although He is of flesh, He is not of the same substance as man. How could you rank God as being of the same kind as a creature of God? Abraham cannot represent God; he was the object of Jehovah’s work at the time, he was merely a faithful servant approved of by Jehovah, and he was one of the people of Israel. How could he be an ancestor of Jesus?
Who wrote the genealogy of Jesus? Did Jesus Himself write it? Did Jesus personally say to them, “Write My genealogy”? It was recorded by Matthew after Jesus was nailed to the cross. At the time, Jesus had done much work that was incomprehensible to His disciples, and had not provided any explanation. After He left, the disciples began to preach and work everywhere, and for the sake of that stage of work, they began writing the epistles and the books of gospel. The books of gospel of the New Testament were recorded twenty to thirty years after Jesus was crucified. Before, the people of Israel only read the Old Testament. That is to say, at the beginning of the Age of Grace people read the Old Testament. The New Testament only appeared during the Age of Grace. The New Testament did not exist when Jesus worked; the people after He was resurrected and ascended to heaven recorded His work. Only then were there the Four Gospels, in addition to which were also the epistles of Paul and Peter, as well as the Book of Revelation. More than three hundred years after Jesus ascended to heaven, subsequent generations collated these documents selectively, and only then was there the New Testament of the Bible. Only after this work had been completed was there the New Testament; it did not exist previously. God had done all that work, and Paul and the other apostles had written so many epistles to the churches at various locations. People after them combined their epistles, and appended the greatest vision recorded by John on the island of Patmos, in which was prophesied God’s work of the last days. People made this sequence, which is different from the utterances of today. What is recorded today is according to the steps of God’s work; what people engage with today is the work personally done by God, and the words personally uttered by Him. You—mankind—do not need to interfere; the words, which come directly from the Spirit, have been arranged step by step, and are different from the arrangement of man’s records. What they recorded, it can be said, was according to their level of education and human caliber. What they recorded was the experiences of men, and each had their own means of recording and knowing, and each record was different. Thus, if you worship the Bible as God you are extremely ignorant and stupid! Why do you not seek the work of the God of today? Only the work of God can save man. The Bible cannot save man, people could read it for several thousand years and still there would not be the slightest change in them, and if you worship the Bible you will never gain the work of the Holy Spirit. The two stages of God’s work in Israel are both recorded in the Bible, and so among these records all the names are of Israel, and all the occurrences are of Israel; even the name “Jesus” is an Israelite name. If you keep reading the Bible today, are you then not abiding by convention? What is recorded in the New Testament of the Bible are the matters of Judea. The original text was both in Greek and Hebrew, and the name by which He was called and the words of Jesus at the time all belong to the language of man. When He was nailed to the cross, Jesus said: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” Is this not Hebrew? This is simply because Jesus was incarnated in Judea, but it does not prove that God is Jewish. Today, God has become flesh in China, and so everything He says is undoubtedly in Chinese. Yet it cannot be compared with the Chinese translated from the Bible, for the source of these words is different: One comes from the Hebrew recorded by men, and one comes from the direct utterances of the Spirit. How could there be no difference at all?