1. How to know Christ’s divine essence
Relevant Words of God:
The incarnate God is called Christ, and Christ is the flesh donned by the Spirit of God. This flesh is unlike any man that is of the flesh. This difference is because Christ is not of flesh and blood; He is the incarnation of the Spirit. He has both a normal humanity and a complete divinity. His divinity is not possessed by any man. His normal humanity sustains all His normal activities in the flesh, while His divinity carries out the work of God Himself. Be it His humanity or divinity, both submit to the will of the heavenly Father. The essence of Christ is the Spirit, that is, the divinity. Therefore, His essence is that of God Himself; this essence will not interrupt His own work, and He could not possibly do anything that destroys His own work, nor would He ever utter any words that go against His own will.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Essence of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father
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.
—Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
Knowing God must be achieved through reading and understanding God’s words. Some say: “I haven’t seen God incarnate, so how should I know God?” In fact, God’s words are an expression of His disposition. From God’s words, you can see His love and salvation for humans, as well as His method for saving them…. This is because His words are expressed by God Himself, not written by humans. They have been personally expressed by God; God Himself is expressing His own words and His inner voice. Why are they called words from the heart? It is because they are issued from deep down, and express His disposition, His will, His thoughts, His love for mankind, His salvation of mankind, and His expectations of mankind…. God’s utterances include harsh words, and gentle and considerate words, as well as some revelatory words that are not in line with human wishes. If you look only at the revelatory words, you might feel that God is rather stern. If you look only at the gentle words, you might feel that God is not very authoritative. You therefore should not take them out of context; rather, look at them from every angle. Sometimes God speaks from a gentle and compassionate perspective, and then people see His love for mankind; sometimes He speaks from a very strict perspective, and then people see the disposition of His that will tolerate no offense. Man is deplorably filthy, and is not worthy of seeing God’s face or of coming before Him. That people are now allowed to come before Him is purely by His grace. God’s wisdom can be seen from the way He works and in the significance of His work. People can still see these things in God’s words, even without any direct contact from Him. When someone who genuinely knows God comes into contact with Christ, his encounter with Christ can correspond with his existing knowledge of God; however, when someone who has only a theoretical understanding encounters God, he cannot see the correlation. This aspect of the truth is the most profound of mysteries; it is difficult to fathom. Sum up God’s words on the mystery of the incarnation, look at them from all angles, and then pray together, ponder, and fellowship further on this aspect of the truth. In doing so, you will be able to gain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and come to understand. Because humans have no chance of having direct contact with God, they must rely on this kind of experience to feel their way through and enter a little bit at a time in order to attain true knowledge of God.
—“How to Know God Incarnate” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Although the outward appearance of God incarnate is exactly the same as a human, and although He learns human knowledge and speaks human language, and sometimes even expresses His ideas through mankind’s own methods or ways of speaking, nevertheless, the way He sees humans and sees the essence of things is absolutely not the same as the way corrupt people see mankind and the essence of things. His perspective and the elevation at which He stands is something unattainable for a corrupt person. This is because God is truth, because the flesh that He wears also possesses the essence of God, and His thoughts and that which is expressed by His humanity are also the truth. For corrupt people, what He expresses in the flesh are provisions of the truth, and of life. These provisions are not just for one person, but for all of mankind. In any corrupt person’s heart, there are only those few people who are associated with them. They care and are concerned only for this handful of people. When disaster is on the horizon, they first think of their own children, spouse, or parents. At most, a more compassionate person would spare some thought for some relative or good friend, but do the thoughts of even such a compassionate person extend further than that? No, never! Because humans are, after all, humans, and they can only look at everything from the elevation and perspective of a human being. However, God incarnate is entirely different from a corrupt human. No matter how ordinary, how normal, how lowly God’s incarnate flesh is, or even with what contempt people look down on Him, His thoughts and His attitude toward mankind are things that no man could possess, that no man could imitate. He will always observe mankind from the perspective of divinity, from the elevation of His position as the Creator. He will always see mankind through the essence and the mindset of God. He absolutely cannot see mankind from the lowly elevation of an average person, or from the perspective of a corrupt person. When people look at mankind, they do so with human vision, and they use things such as human knowledge and human rules and theories as their measure. This is within the scope of what people can see with their eyes and the scope that is achievable by corrupt people. When God looks at mankind, He looks with divine vision, and He uses His essence and what He has and is as a measure. This scope includes things that people cannot see, and this is where God incarnate and corrupt humans are entirely different. This difference is determined by humans’ and God’s different essences—it is these different essences that determine their identities and positions as well as the perspective and elevation from which they see things.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III
You will never see God hold similar views on things to human beings, and moreover you will not see Him use mankind’s viewpoints, knowledge, science, philosophy or imagination to handle matters. Rather, everything God does and everything He reveals is connected to truth. That is, every word He has said and every action He has taken is bound to the truth. This truth is not the product of some baseless fantasy; this truth and these words are expressed by God by virtue of His essence and His life. Because these words and the essence of everything God has done are truth, we can say that God’s essence is holy. In other words, everything God says and does brings vitality and light to people, enables people to see positive things and the reality of those positive things, and points the way for humanity so that they may walk the right path. These things are all determined by God’s essence and by the essence of His holiness.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique V
Whether you have experiences of society and how you actually live in your family and experience within it can be seen in what you express, whereas you cannot see in the work of God incarnate whether He has social experiences. He is well aware of the substance of man and can reveal all kinds of practices pertaining to all kinds of people. He is even better at revealing the corrupt dispositions and the rebellious behavior of humans. He does not live among worldly people, but He is aware of the nature of mortals and all the corruptions of worldly people. This is His being. Though He does not deal with the world, He knows the rules of dealing with the world, because He understands human nature fully. He knows about the Spirit’s work that man’s eyes cannot see and man’s ears cannot hear, both of today and of the past. This includes wisdom that is not a philosophy for living and wonders that are hard for people to fathom. This is His being, open to people and also hidden from people. What He expresses is not the being of an extraordinary person, but the inherent attributes and being of the Spirit. He does not travel the world but knows everything of it. He contacts the “anthropoids” who have no knowledge or insight, but He expresses words that are higher than knowledge and above great men. He lives within a group of obtuse and numb people who are without humanity and who do not understand the conventions and life of humanity, but He can ask mankind to live out normal humanity, at the same time revealing the base and low humanity of mankind. All this is His being, higher than the being of any flesh-and-blood person. For Him, it is unnecessary to experience a complicated, cumbersome, and sordid social life to do the work He needs to do and reveal the substance of corrupt mankind thoroughly. A sordid social life does not edify His flesh. His work and words only reveal man’s disobedience and do not provide man with experience and lessons for dealing with the world. He does not need to investigate society or man’s family when He supplies man with life. Exposing and judging man is not an expression of the experiences of His flesh; it is His revelation of man’s unrighteousness after having known man’s disobedience for a long time and abhorring mankind’s corruption. The work He does is all meant to reveal His disposition to man and to express His being. Only He can do this work; it is not something a flesh-and-blood person could achieve. From His work, man cannot tell what kind of person He is. Man is also unable to classify Him as a created person on the basis of His work. His being also makes Him unclassifiable as a created person. Man can only consider Him a non-human, but does not know in which category to put Him, so man is forced to list Him in the category of God. It is not unreasonable for man to do so, for God has done much work among people that man is unable to do.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Work
As God works in the flesh, He never loses sight of the duty that a man in the flesh ought to fulfill; He is able to worship God in heaven with a true heart. He has the essence of God, and His identity is that of God Himself. It is only that He has come to earth and become a created being, with the exterior shell of a created being and, now possessed of a humanity that He did not have before. He is able to worship God in heaven; this is the being of God Himself and is inimitable to man. His identity is God Himself. It is from the perspective of the flesh that He worships God; therefore, the words “Christ worships God in heaven” are not wrong. What He asks of man is precisely His own being; He has already achieved all that He asks of man prior to asking such of them. He would never make demands of others while He Himself is free from them, for this all constitutes His being. Regardless of how He carries out His work, He would not act in a manner that disobeys God. No matter what He asks of man, no demand exceeds that which is attainable by man. All that He does is that which does the will of God and is for the sake of His management. The divinity of Christ is above all men; therefore, He is the highest authority of all created beings. This authority is His divinity, that is, the disposition and being of God Himself, which determines His identity. Therefore, no matter how normal His humanity, it is undeniable that He has the identity of God Himself; no matter from which standpoint He speaks and howsoever He obeys the will of God, it cannot be said that He is not God Himself.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Essence of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father
God becomes flesh only to complete the work of the flesh, not to merely allow men to see Him. Rather, He lets His work affirm His identity, and lets that which He reveals attest to His essence. His essence is not baseless; His identity was not seized by His hand; it is determined by His work and His essence. Though He has the essence of God Himself and is capable of doing the work of God Himself, He is still, after all, flesh, unlike the Spirit. He is not God with the qualities of the Spirit; He is God with a shell of flesh. Therefore, no matter how normal and how weak He is, and howsoever He seeks the will of God the Father, His divinity is undeniable. Within the incarnate God exists not only a normal humanity and its weaknesses; there also exists the wonderfulness and unfathomableness of His divinity, as well as all His deeds in the flesh. Therefore, both humanity and divinity exist within Christ, both actually and practically. This is not in the least something empty or supernatural. He comes to earth with the primary objective of carrying out work; it is imperative to be possessed of a normal humanity to carry out work on earth; otherwise, however great the power of His divinity, its original function cannot be put to good use. Though His humanity is of great importance, it is not His essence. His essence is the divinity; therefore, the moment He begins to perform His ministry on earth is the moment He begins to express the being of His divinity. His humanity exists solely to sustain the normal life of His flesh so that His divinity can carry out work as normal in the flesh; it is the divinity that directs His work entirely. When He completes His work, He will have fulfilled His ministry. What man ought to know is the entirety of His work, and it is through His work that He enables man to know Him. Over the course of His work, He quite fully expresses the being of His divinity, which is not a disposition tainted by humanity, or a being tainted by thought and human behavior. When the time comes when all His ministry has come to an end, He will have already perfectly and fully expressed the disposition that He ought to express. His work is not guided by the instructions of any man; the expression of His disposition is also quite free, and is not controlled by the mind or processed by thought, but revealed naturally. This is something no man can achieve. Even if the surroundings are harsh or the conditions unfavorable, He is able to express His disposition at the appropriate time. One who is Christ expresses the being of Christ, while those who are not do not possess the disposition of Christ. Therefore, even if all resist Him or have notions of Him, none can deny on the basis of man’s notions that the disposition expressed by Christ is that of God. All those who pursue Christ with a true heart or seek God with intent will admit that He is Christ based on the expression of His divinity. They would never deny Christ on the basis of any aspect of Him that does not conform to man’s notions. Though man is very foolish, all know exactly what is the will of man and what originates from God. It is merely that many people deliberately resist Christ as a result of their intentions. If not for this, then not a single man would have reason to deny the existence of Christ, for the divinity expressed by Christ does indeed exist, and His work can be witnessed by the naked eye.
The work and expression of Christ determines His essence. He is able to complete with a true heart that which has been entrusted to Him. He is able to worship God in heaven with a true heart, and with a true heart seek the will of God the Father. This is all determined by His essence. And so too is His natural revelation determined by His essence; the reason I call this His “natural revelation” is because His expression is not an imitation, or the result of education by man, or the result of many years of cultivation by man. He did not learn it or adorn Himself with it; rather, it is inherent within Him. Man may deny His work, His expression, His humanity, and the entire life of His normal humanity, but none can deny that He worships God in heaven with a true heart; none can deny that He has come to fulfill the will of the heavenly Father, and none can deny the sincerity with which He seeks God the Father. Though His image is not pleasing to the senses, His discourse not possessed of an extraordinary air, and His work not as earth-shattering or heaven-shaking as man imagines, He is indeed Christ, who fulfills the will of the heavenly Father with a true heart, completely submits to the heavenly Father, and is obedient to the death. This is because His essence is the essence of Christ. This truth is hard for man to believe, but it is a fact. When the ministry of Christ has been completely fulfilled, man will be able to see from His work that His disposition and His being represent the disposition and being of God in heaven. At that time, the summation of all His work can affirm that He is indeed the flesh which the Word becomes, and not alike that of a flesh and blood man.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Essence of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father
The Spirit of God is the authority over all creation. The flesh with the essence of God is also possessed of authority, but God in the flesh can do all the work that obeys the will of the heavenly Father. This cannot be attained or conceived by any one person. God Himself is authority, but His flesh can submit to His authority. This is what is implied when it is said that “Christ obeys the will of God the Father.” God is a Spirit and can do the work of salvation, as can God become man. At any rate, God Himself does His own work; He neither interrupts nor interferes, much less does He carry out work that contradicts itself, for the essence of the work done by the Spirit and the flesh is alike. Be it the Spirit or the flesh, both work to fulfill one will and to manage the same work. Though the Spirit and the flesh have two disparate qualities, their essences are the same; both have the essence of God Himself, and the identity of God Himself. God Himself possesses no elements of disobedience; His essence is good. He is the expression of all beauty and goodness, as well as all love. Even in the flesh, God does not do anything that disobeys God the Father. Even at the expense of sacrificing His life, He would be wholeheartedly willing to do so, and He would make no other choice. God possesses no elements of self-righteousness or self-importance, or those of conceit and arrogance; He possesses no elements of crookedness. Everything that disobeys God comes from Satan; Satan is the source of all ugliness and wickedness. The reason that man has qualities similar to those of Satan is because man has been corrupted and processed by Satan. Christ has not been corrupted by Satan, hence He possesses only the characteristics of God, and none of the characteristics of Satan. No matter how arduous the work or weak the flesh, God, while He lives in the flesh, will never do anything that interrupts the work of God Himself, much less forsake the will of God the Father in disobedience. He would rather suffer pains of the flesh than betray the will of God the Father; it is just as Jesus said in prayer, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.” People make their own choices, but Christ does not. Though He has the identity of God Himself, He still seeks the will of God the Father, and fulfills what is entrusted to Him by God the Father, from the perspective of the flesh. This is something that man cannot attain to.
The flesh worn by the Spirit of God is God’s own flesh. The Spirit of God is supreme; He is almighty, holy, and righteous. Likewise, His flesh is also supreme, almighty, holy, and righteous. Such a flesh can only do that which is righteous and beneficial to mankind, that which is holy, glorious, and mighty; He is incapable of doing anything that violates the truth, that violates morality and justice, and much less is He capable of anything that would betray God’s Spirit. The Spirit of God is holy, and thus His flesh is incorruptible by Satan; His flesh is of a different essence than the flesh of man. For it is man, not God, who is corrupted by Satan; Satan could not possibly corrupt the flesh of God. Thus, despite the fact that man and Christ dwell within the same space, it is only man who is possessed, used, and entrapped by Satan. By contrast, Christ is eternally impervious to Satan’s corruption, because Satan will never be capable of ascending to the highest place, and will never be able to draw near to God. Today, you should all understand that it is only mankind, corrupted as it is by Satan, that betrays Me. Betrayal will never be an issue that involves Christ in the least.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. A Very Serious Problem: Betrayal (2)
Unbeknownst to us, this insignificant man has led us into one step after another of God’s work. We undergo countless trials, bear innumerable chastenings, and are tested by death. We learn of God’s righteous and majestic disposition, enjoy, too, His love and mercy, come to appreciate God’s great power and wisdom, witness the loveliness of God, and behold God’s eager desire to save man. In the words of this ordinary person, we come to know the disposition and essence of God, to understand God’s will, to know the nature essence of man, and see the way to salvation and perfection. His words cause us to “die,” and they cause us to be “reborn”; His words bring us comfort, yet also leave us wracked with guilt and a sense of indebtedness; His words bring us joy and peace, but also infinite pain. Sometimes we are as lambs to the slaughter in His hands; sometimes we are like the apple of His eye, and enjoy His tender love; sometimes we are like His enemy, and under His gaze are turned to ashes by His wrath. We are the human race saved by Him, we are the maggots in His eyes, and we are the lost lambs that, day and night, He is bent on finding. He is merciful toward us, He despises us, He raises us up, He comforts and exhorts us, He guides us, He enlightens us, He chastens and disciplines us, and He even curses us. Night and day, He never ceases to worry about us, and protects and cares for us, night and day, never leaving our side, but spills His heart’s blood for our sake and pays any price for us. Within the utterances of this small and ordinary body of flesh, we have enjoyed the entirety of God and beheld the destination that God has bestowed upon us. Notwithstanding this, vanity still stirs up trouble within our hearts, and we are still unwilling actively to accept a person like this as our God. Though He has given us so much manna, so much to enjoy, none of this can take the Lord’s place in our hearts. We honor this person’s special identity and status only with great reluctance. As long as He does not open His mouth to ask us to acknowledge that He is God, we will never take it upon ourselves to acknowledge Him as the God that is soon to arrive and yet has long been working in our midst.
God continues His utterances, employing various methods and perspectives to admonish us about what we should do while, at the same time, giving voice to His heart. His words carry life power, show us the way we should walk, and enable us to understand what the truth is. We begin to be drawn by His words, we begin to focus on the tone and manner of His speaking, and subconsciously we begin to take an interest in the innermost feelings of this unremarkable person. He spits up His heart’s blood in working on our behalf, loses sleep and appetite on our account, weeps for us, sighs for us, groans in sickness for us, suffers humiliation for the sake of our destination and salvation, and our numbness and rebelliousness draw tears and blood from His heart. This way of being and of having belongs to no ordinary person, nor can it be possessed or attained by any corrupted human being. He shows tolerance and patience possessed by no ordinary person, and His love is not something with which any created being is endowed. No one apart from Him can know all of our thoughts, or have such a clear and complete grasp of our nature and essence, or judge the rebelliousness and corruption of mankind, or speak to us and work on us like this on behalf of God in heaven. No one apart from Him is endowed with the authority, wisdom, and dignity of God; the disposition of God and what God has and is are brought forth, in their entirety, in Him. No one apart from Him can show us the way and bring us light. No one apart from Him can reveal the mysteries that God has not disclosed since creation until today. No one apart from Him can save us from Satan’s bondage and our own corrupt disposition. He represents God. He expresses the inmost heart of God, the exhortations of God, and God’s words of judgment toward all mankind. He has begun a new age, a new era, and ushered in a new heaven and earth and new work, and He has brought us hope, ending the life we led in vagueness and enabling our whole being to behold, in total clarity, the path to salvation. He has conquered our whole being and gained our hearts. From that moment onward, our minds have become conscious, and our spirits seem to be revived: This ordinary, insignificant person, who lives among us and has long been rejected by us—is this not the Lord Jesus, who is ever in our thoughts, waking or dreaming, and for whom we long night and day? It is He! It really is He! He is our God! He is the truth, the way, and the life! He has enabled us to live again and to see the light and has stopped our hearts from wandering. We have returned to the home of God, we have returned before His throne, we are face-to-face with Him, we have witnessed His countenance, and we have seen the road that lies ahead. At this time, our hearts are completely conquered by Him; we no longer doubt who He is, no longer oppose His work and His word, and we fall down prostrate before Him. We wish for nothing more than to follow the footprints of God for the rest of our lives, and to be made perfect by Him, and to repay His grace, and repay His love for us, and to obey His orchestrations and arrangements, and to cooperate with His work, and to do everything we can to complete what He entrusts to us.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Beholding the Appearance of God in His Judgment and Chastisement