3. What are the differences between church life in the Age of Grace and church life in the Age of Kingdom?
Bible Verses for Reference:
Relevant Words of God:
When, in the Age of Grace, God returned to the third heaven, God’s work of redeeming all of mankind had actually already moved into its closing act. All that remained on earth were the cross that Jesus carried, the fine linen that Jesus was wrapped in, and the crown of thorns and scarlet robe that Jesus wore (these were objects the Jews used to mock Him). That is, the work of Jesus’ crucifixion had caused an uproar for a time and then had settled down. From then on, Jesus’ disciples began to carry His work forward, shepherding and watering in the churches everywhere. The content of their work was this: to have all people repent, admit their sins, and be baptized; the apostles all spreading the inside story of Jesus’ crucifixion and what actually happened, everyone not being able to help but fall down before Jesus to admit their sins, and furthermore the apostles spreading everywhere the words Jesus spoke and the laws and commandments He established. From that point began the building of churches in the Age of Grace.
Excerpted from “Work and Entry (6)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In the past, during the special gatherings or the grand gatherings that were held in various places, only one aspect of the path of practice was spoken of. Such practice was that which was to be put into practice during the Age of Grace, and scarcely bore any relation to the knowledge of God, for the vision of the Age of Grace was only the vision of Jesus’ crucifixion, and there were no greater visions. Man was supposed to know no more than the work of His redemption of mankind through the crucifixion, and so during the Age of Grace there were no other visions for man to know. In this way, man had only a scant knowledge of God, and apart from the knowledge of Jesus’ love and compassion, there were but a few simple and pitiful things for him to put into practice, things that were a far cry from today. In the past, no matter what form his assembly, man was incapable of speaking of a practical knowledge of God’s work, much less was any able to clearly say which was the most suitable path of practice for man to enter upon. He merely added a few simple details to a foundation of forbearance and patience; there was simply no change in the substance of his practice, for within the same age God did not do any newer work, and the only requirements He made of man were forbearance and patience, or bearing the cross. Apart from such practices, there were no higher visions than the crucifixion of Jesus.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Whenever such religious people congregate, they ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She replies, “I feel indebted to God and that I am unable to fulfill His heart’s desire.” Another says, “I, too, am indebted to God and unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within their hearts. Such words are the most loathsome and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such men opposes God. Those who focus on reality communicate whatever is in their hearts and open their hearts in communication. There is not a single false exercise, no civilities or empty pleasantries. They are always straightforward and observe no earthly rules. There are those who have a penchant for outward display, even without any sense. When another sings, he begins to dance, not even realizing that the rice in his pot has already burned. Such manner of men are not godly or honorable, and are far too frivolous. These are all manifestations of the lack of reality. When some people commune about the matters of life in the spirit, though they speak not of indebtedness to God, they retain a true love for Him within their hearts. Your indebtedness to God has nothing to do with others; you are indebted to God, not man. So what use is it for you to constantly speak of this to others? You must place importance on entering into reality, not outward zeal or display.
Excerpted from “In Faith, One Must Focus on Reality—Engaging in Religious Ritual Is Not Faith” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
“Sharing and communing experiences” means speaking of every thought in your heart, your state, your experiences and knowledge of God’s words, as well as the corrupt disposition within you. And after that, others discern these things, and accept the positive and recognize that which is negative. Only this is sharing, and only this is truly communing. It does not simply mean having insights into the words of God or a part of a hymn, and communing as you please and then not taking it any further, and not saying anything related to your own actual life. Everyone talks about doctrinal and theoretical knowledge and says nothing of knowledge drawn from actual experiences. You all avoid talking about such things, about your personal lives, about your life in the church with your brothers and sisters, and about your own inner world. By doing this, how can there be true communication between people? How can there be real trust? There cannot be any! What do you say, if a wife never speaks of the words within her heart to her husband, are they confidants? Do they confide in each other? Suppose that all day long they say, “I love you!” They say only this, yet they have never laid bare what they are thinking in their hearts, what they want of each other, or what problems they have. They have never spoken to each other of such things, nor have they ever confided in each other—and if the two of them have never confided in each other, then are they a couple who love each other? If they have nothing but high-sounding words for each other when they are together, are they truly husband and wife? Certainly not! If brothers and sisters are to be able to confide in each other, help each other out, and provide for one another when they are together, then each person must speak of their own true experiences. If you don’t talk of your own true experiences, and only speak high-sounding words, and words that are doctrinal and superficial, then you are not an honest person, and you are incapable of being honest.
Excerpted from “The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person” in Records of Christ’s Talks
When bearing testimony for God, you should mainly talk more about how God judges and chastises people, what trials He uses to refine humans and change their dispositions. You should also talk about how much corruption has been revealed in your experience, how much you have endured and how you were eventually conquered by God; how much real knowledge of God’s work you have, and how you should bear witness for God and repay Him for His love. You should put substance into this kind of language, while putting it in a simple manner. Do not talk about empty theories. Speak more down-to-earth; speak from the heart. This is how you should experience. Do not equip yourselves with profound-seeming, empty theories in an effort to show off; doing so makes you appear quite arrogant and senseless. You should speak more of actual, real things from your experience that are real and from the heart; this is most beneficial to others, and most appropriate for them to see. You used to be people who opposed God the most and were least inclined to submit to Him, but now you have been conquered—never forget that. You should diligently devote much reflection and thought to these matters. Once you have realized this, you will know how to bear testimony; otherwise, you are liable to commit shameless and senseless acts.
Excerpted from “Only by Pursuing the Truth Can You Obtain Changes in Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks