3. The differences between church life in the Age of Grace and in the Age of Kingdom
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 final part. All that remained on earth were the cross that Jesus bore on His back, the fine linen that Jesus was wrapped in, and the crown of thorns and scarlet robe that Jesus wore (these were objects with which the Jews mocked Him). That is, after the work of Jesus’ crucifixion caused a great sensation, things settled down again. From then on, Jesus’ disciples began to carry on His work, shepherding and watering in the churches everywhere. The content of their work was as follows: They asked all people to repent, confess their sins, and be baptized; and the apostles all went forth to spread the inside story, the unvarnished account, of Jesus’ crucifixion, and so everyone could not help but fall prostrate before Jesus to confess their sins; and furthermore, the apostles went everywhere transmitting the words Jesus spoke. From that point began the building of churches in the Age of Grace.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Work and Entry (6)
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 took, man was incapable of speaking of a practical knowledge of God’s work, much less was anyone able to clearly say which was the most suitable path of practice for man to enter upon. Man merely added a few simple details to a foundation of forbearance and patience; there was simply no change in the essence 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.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Practice
A normal spiritual life is not limited to such practices as praying, singing hymns, participating in church life, and eating and drinking of God’s words. Rather, it involves living a new and vibrant spiritual life. What matters is not how you practice, but what fruit your practice bears. Most people believe that a normal spiritual life necessarily involves praying, singing hymns, eating and drinking the words of God or pondering His words, regardless of whether such practices actually have any effect or lead to true understanding. These people focus on following superficial procedures without any thought to their results; they are people who live in religious rituals, not people who live within the church, and much less are they people of the kingdom. Their prayers, hymn singing, and eating and drinking of God’s words are all just rule-following, done out of compulsion and to keep up with trends, not out of willingness nor from the heart. However much these people pray or sing, their efforts will bear no fruit, for what they practice is just the rules and rituals of religion; they are not actually practicing God’s words. They focus only on making a fuss over how they practice, and they treat God’s words as rules to follow. Such people are not putting God’s words into practice; they are just gratifying the flesh, and performing for other people to see. These religious rules and rituals are all human in origin; they do not come from God. God does not follow rules, nor is He subject to any law. Rather, He does new things every day, accomplishing practical work. Like people in the Three-Self Church, who limit themselves to practices such as attending morning services every day, offering evening prayers and prayers of gratitude before meals, and giving thanks in all things—however much they do and for however long they do it, they will not have the work of the Holy Spirit. When people live amidst rules and have their hearts fixed on methods of practice, the Holy Spirit cannot work, because their hearts are occupied by rules and human notions. Thus, God is unable to intervene and work on them, and they can only continue living under the control of laws. Such people are forever incapable of receiving God’s praise.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Regarding a Normal Spiritual Life
During the course of man’s entry, life is always boring, full of the monotonous elements of spiritual life, such as praying, eating and drinking the words of God, or forming gatherings, and so people always feel that believing in God brings no great enjoyment. Such spiritual activities are always carried out on the basis of humanity’s original disposition, which has been corrupted by Satan. Although people can sometimes receive the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, their original thinking, disposition, lifestyles and habits are still rooted within, and so their nature remains unchanged. … In fact, when a stage of God’s work is finished, He has already destroyed the tools and the style of that time, without leaving any trace. However, “devout believers” continue to worship those tangible material objects; meanwhile they consign what God has to the back of their minds, studying it no further, seeming to be full of the love of God when they actually pushed Him out of the house long ago and placed Satan on the table to worship. Portraits of Jesus, the Cross, Mary, Jesus’ Baptism and the Last Supper—people venerate these as the Lord of Heaven, all the while repeatedly crying out “Lord, heavenly Father.” Is this not all a joke? To this day, many similar sayings and practices that have been passed down amongst humanity are hateful to God; they seriously obstruct the way ahead for God and, furthermore, create huge setbacks to humanity’s entry. Putting aside the extent to which Satan has corrupted humanity, the insides of people are completely filled up with things like the law of Witness Lee, the experiences of Lawrence, the surveys by Watchman Nee, and the work of Paul. There is simply no way for God to work upon human beings, because they have inside them too much of individualism, laws, rules, regulations, systems, and the like; these things, in addition to people’s feudal superstitious tendencies, have captured and devoured humanity. It is as if people’s thoughts are an interesting film narrating a fairy tale in full color, with fantastic beings riding the clouds, so imaginative that they amaze people, leaving them dazed and speechless. To tell the truth, the work that God comes to do today is mainly to deal with and dispel the superstitious attributes of human beings and completely transform their mental outlook. God’s work has not lasted until today due to the inheritance that has been handed down through the generations by humanity; it is work as personally initiated by Him and completed by Him, without any need for succeeding to the legacy of a certain great spiritual man, or inheriting any work of a representative nature done by God in some other era. Human beings need not concern themselves with any of these things. God today has another style of speaking and of working, so why should human beings trouble themselves? If humans walk the path of today within the current stream while continuing the legacy of their “ancestors,” they will not reach their destination. God feels deep repugnance for this particular mode of human behavior, just as He abominates the years, months and days of the human world.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Work and Entry (3)
Praise has come to Zion and God’s dwelling place has appeared. The glorious holy name, extolled by all peoples, spreads. Ah, Almighty God! The Head of the universe, Christ of the last days—He is the shining Sun that has risen upon Mount Zion, which towers in majesty and grandeur over all the universe …
Almighty God! We call out to You in jubilation; we dance and sing. You are truly our Redeemer, the great King of the universe! You have made a group of overcomers and fulfilled God’s management plan. All peoples shall flow to this mountain. All peoples shall kneel before the throne! You are the one and only true God and You deserve glory and honor. All glory, praise, and authority be to the throne! The spring of life flows out from the throne, watering and feeding the multitudes of God’s people. The life changes with each day; new light and revelations follow us, constantly affording new insights about God. Amidst experiences, we arrive at complete certainty about God. His words are constantly made manifest, made manifest within those who are right. We are indeed so blessed! Meeting God face to face each day, communicating with God in all things, and giving God sovereignty over everything. Carefully do we ponder God’s word, our hearts rest quiet in God, and thus do we come before God, where we receive His light. Every day, in our lives, actions, words, thoughts, and ideas, we live within God’s word, able to discriminate at all times. God’s word guides the thread through the needle; unexpectedly, the things hidden inside us come to light, one after another. Fellowship with God brooks no delay; our thoughts and ideas are laid bare by God. At every moment we are living before the seat of Christ where we undergo judgment. Every place within our bodies remains occupied by Satan. Today, in order to recover God’s sovereignty, His temple must be cleansed. To be completely possessed by God, we must engage in a life-and-death struggle. Only when our old selves have been crucified can the resurrected life of Christ reign supreme.
Now the Holy Spirit mounts a charge into our every corner to do battle for our reclamation! So long as we are ready to deny ourselves and to be willing to cooperate with God, God will surely illuminate and purify us from within at all times, and reclaim anew that which Satan has occupied, so that we may become completed by God as quickly as possible. Do not waste time—live every moment within God’s word. Be built up with the saints, be brought into the kingdom, and enter into glory together with God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 1
Today You have made complete all churches—the church of Philadelphia—and thus fulfilled Your 6,000-year management plan. The saints can humbly submit themselves before You, connected in spirit and following along in love, joined to the source of the fountain. The living water of life runs without cease, washing away and purging all the mud and filthy water in the church, once again purifying Your temple. We have come to know the practical true God, walked within His words, recognized our own functions and duties, and done everything that we can to expend ourselves for the sake of the church. Ever quiet before You, we must heed the work of the Holy Spirit, lest Your will be obstructed in us. Among the saints there is mutual love, and the strengths of some will compensate for the failings of others. They are able to walk in the spirit at all times, enlightened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit. They put the truth into practice immediately upon understanding it. They keep pace with the new light, and follow God’s footsteps.
Actively cooperate with God; letting Him take control is to walk with Him. All of our own ideas, notions, opinions, and secular entanglements vanish into thin air like smoke. We let God reign supreme in our spirits, walk with Him and so gain transcendence, overcoming the world, and our spirits fly free and attain release: This is the outcome when Almighty God becomes King. How can we not dance and sing in praise, offering up our praises, offering up new hymns?
There truly are many ways to praise God: calling out His name, drawing near to Him, thinking of Him, pray-reading, engaging in fellowship, contemplating and pondering, prayer, and songs of praise. In these kinds of praise there is enjoyment, and there is anointment; there is power in praise, and there is also a burden. There is faith in praise, and there is new insight.
Actively cooperate with God, coordinate in service and become one, fulfill Almighty God’s intentions, hasten to become a holy spiritual body, trample over Satan, and put an end to Satan’s fate. The church of Philadelphia has been raptured into God’s presence and is made manifest in His glory.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 2
All nations are cheering, all peoples are singing, Mount Zion is laughing joyfully, and the glory of God has arisen! I never even dreamed that I would see God’s countenance, yet today I have seen it. Face-to-face with Him every day, I lay bare my heart to Him. He bountifully provides food and drink. Life, words, actions, thoughts, ideas—His glorious light illuminates them all. He leads every step of the way, and His judgment immediately befalls any rebellious heart.
Eating, residing together, and living together with God, being together with Him, walking together, enjoying together, gaining glory and blessings together, sharing the kingship with Him, and existing together in the kingdom—oh, what a pleasure it is! Oh, how sweet it is! We are face-to-face with Him every day, speaking with Him every day and talking constantly, and being granted new enlightenment and new insights every day. Our spiritual eyes are opened, and we see everything; all the mysteries of the spirit are revealed to us. The holy life really is carefree; run fast and do not stop, and forge onward continuously—there is a more wondrous life ahead. Do not be satisfied with mere sweet taste; seek continuously to enter into God. He is all-encompassing and bountiful, and has all kinds of things that we lack. Cooperate proactively and enter into Him, and nothing will ever be the same again. Our lives will be transcendent, and no person, matter, or thing will be able to disturb us.
Transcendence! Transcendence! True transcendence! God’s transcendent life is within, and all things have become truly relaxed! We transcend the world and worldly things, feeling no attachment to husbands or children. We transcend the control of sickness and environments. Satan dare not disturb us. We completely transcend all disasters. This is allowing God to take the kingship! We trample Satan underfoot, stand witness for the church, and thoroughly expose the ugly face of Satan. The construction of the church is in Christ, and the glorious body has arisen—this is living in rapture!
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 15
Entry into the training of the kingdom means beginning the life of the people of God—are you willing to accept such training? Are you willing to feel a sense of urgency? Are you willing to live under God’s discipline? Are you willing to live under God’s chastisement? When God’s words come upon you and test you, how will you act? And what will you do when faced with all manner of facts? In the past, your focus was not on life; today, you must focus on entering into life reality, and pursue changes in your life disposition. This is what must be achieved by the people of the kingdom. All those who are the people of God must possess life, they must accept the training of the kingdom, and pursue changes in their life disposition. This is what God requires of the people of the kingdom.
God’s requirements for the people of the kingdom are as follows:
1. They must accept God’s commissions. This is to say, they must accept all of the words spoken in God’s work of the last days.
2. They must enter into the training of the kingdom.
3. They must pursue having their hearts touched by God. When your heart has completely turned to God, and you have a normal spiritual life, you will live in the realm of freedom, which means you will live under the care and protection of God’s love. Only when you live under the care and protection of God will you belong to God.
4. They must be gained by God.
5. They must become a manifestation of God’s glory on earth.
These five points are My commissions for you. My words are spoken unto the people of God, and if you are unwilling to accept these commissions, I will not force you—but if you truly accept them, then you will be able to do the will of God. Today, you begin to accept God’s commissions, and pursue becoming the people of the kingdom and attaining the standards required to be the people of the kingdom. This is the first step of entry. If you wish to fully do God’s will, then you must accept these five commissions, and if you are able to achieve them, you will be after God’s heart and surely God will make great use of you. What is crucial today is entering into the training of the kingdom. Entry into the training of the kingdom involves the spiritual life. Previously, there was no talk of the spiritual life, but today, as you begin entry into the training of the kingdom, you officially enter into the spiritual life.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Know God’s Newest Work and Follow His Footsteps
Now is the Age of Kingdom. Whether you have entered into this new age depends on whether you have entered into the reality of God’s words, on whether His words have become your life reality. The words of God are made known to every person so that, in the end, all people will live in the world of God’s words, and His words will enlighten and illuminate each person from within. If, during this time, you are careless in reading the words of God, and have no interest in His words, then this shows that your state is wrong. If you are unable to enter into the Age of Word, then the Holy Spirit does not work in you; if you have entered into this age, He will do His work. What can you do at the onset of the Age of Word in order to gain the work of the Holy Spirit? In this age, and among you, God shall accomplish the following fact: that every person shall live out the words of God, shall be able to put truth into practice, and shall love God earnestly; that all people shall use the words of God as a foundation and as their reality, and shall have hearts that revere God; and that, through practicing the words of God, man shall then wield kingly power together with God. This is the work to be achieved by God. Can you go without reading the words of God? Today, there are many who feel that they cannot go even a day or two without reading His words. They have to read His words every day, and if time does not permit, listening to them will suffice. This is the feeling that the Holy Spirit gives people, and it is the way He begins to move them. That is, He governs people through words, so that they can enter into the reality of the words of God. If, after just one day without eating and drinking the words of God, you feel darkness and thirst, and cannot stand it, this shows that you have been moved by the Holy Spirit, and that He has not turned away from you. You are, then, one who is in this stream. However, if after a day or two without eating and drinking the words of God, you don’t feel a thing, if you have no thirst, and are not at all moved, this shows that the Holy Spirit has turned away from you. This means, then, that there is something wrong with the state within you; you have not entered into the Age of Word, and you are one of those who have fallen behind. God uses words to govern people; you feel good if you eat and drink the words of God, and if you do not, you have no path to follow. The words of God become people’s food, and the force that drives them. The Bible says that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Today, God will bring this work to completion, and He shall accomplish this fact in you. How is it that in the past, people could go many days without reading the words of God and yet be able to eat and work as usual, but this is not the case today? In this age, God chiefly uses words to govern all. Through the words of God, man is judged and perfected, then finally taken into the kingdom. Only the words of God can supply the life of man, and only the words of God can give man light and a path for practice, particularly in the Age of Kingdom. As long as you do not stray from the reality of God’s words, eating and drinking His words each day, God will be able to make you perfect.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Age of Kingdom Is the Age of Word
Now, belief in God has entered into the Age of God’s Word. Relatively speaking, people do not pray as much as they once did; God’s words have explicitly communicated all aspects of the truth and ways of practice, so there is no longer any need for people to seek and grope about. In the life of the Age of Kingdom, God’s words lead people onward, and it is a life in which everything is made clear for them to see—for God has laid everything out explicitly, and man is no longer left to feel their way through life. Regarding marriage, worldly affairs, life, food, clothing and shelter, interpersonal relationships, how one can serve in a way that meets God’s will, how one should forsake the flesh, and so forth, which of these things has God not explained to you? Do you still need to go praying and seeking? There really is no need! If you still do these things, you are just acting superfluously. It is ignorant and foolish, and wholly unnecessary! … God’s words are crystal-clear, particularly those uttered regarding His will, His disposition, and how He treats different kinds of people. If you do not understand the truth, then you should read God’s words more—the results of doing this are much better than blindly praying and seeking. There are many instances in which seeking and praying should be replaced with reading God’s words more and fellowshiping on the truth. In your regular prayers, you should reflect on and try to know yourself more from within God’s words. This is more beneficial for your progress in life. If, now, you still seek by raising your eyes to heaven, does that not show that you are still believing in a vague God? Before, you saw results from your seeking and praying, and the Holy Spirit moved your spirit somewhat because that was the time of the Age of Grace. You could not see God, so you had no choice but to feel your way forward and seek in that way. Now God has come among man, the Word has appeared in the flesh, and you have seen God; thus the Holy Spirit no longer works as He did before. The age has changed and so has the way in which the Holy Spirit works. Though people may not pray as much as they once did, because God is on earth, man now has an opportunity to love God. Mankind has entered the age of loving God and can normally draw closer to God within themselves: “Oh God! You are indeed so good, and I wish to love You!” Just a few clear and simple words give voice to the love for God within people’s hearts; this prayer is spoken only for the sake of deepening the love between man and God. Sometimes you may see yourself manifesting some rebelliousness, and say: “Oh God! Why am I so corrupt?” You feel a strong urge to hit yourself a few times, and tears well up in your eyes. At such times, you feel regret and distress in your heart, but you have no way to express these feelings. This is the current work of the Holy Spirit, but only those who pursue life can attain it. You feel that God has great love for you and you have a special kind of feeling. Although you do not have the words to pray clearly, you always feel that God’s love is as deep as the ocean. There are no suitable words to express this state of being, and this is a state that often arises within the spirit. This sort of prayer and fellowship, which aims to draw one closer to God in one’s heart, is normal.
Although the time when people had to fumble about and seek is now past, that does not mean they do not need to pray and seek anymore, nor is it the case that people need not wait for God’s will to reveal itself before going on with the work; these are just the misconceptions of man. God has come amongst man to live with them, to be their light, their life, and their way: This is a fact. Of course, in God’s coming to earth, He surely brings mankind a practical way and life that suits their stature for them to enjoy—He has not come to break all the ways of man’s practice. Man no longer lives by groping and seeking because these have been replaced by God’s coming to earth to work and to speak His word. He has come to free man from the life of darkness and obscurity that they have been leading and enable them to have a life filled with light. The current work is to point things out clearly, to speak clearly, inform directly, and to define things explicitly, so that people can put these things into practice, just as Jehovah God led the people of Israel, telling them how to offer sacrifices and how to build the temple. Therefore, you no longer need to live a life of earnest seeking like you did after the Lord Jesus left. Should you have to feel your way through the work of spreading the gospel in the future? Should you have to fumble about trying to find a proper way to live? Must you grope about to discern how you should perform your own duties? Is it necessary for you to prostrate yourselves on the ground, seeking, in order to know how you should bear witness? Is it necessary for you to fast and pray to know how you should dress or live? Is it necessary for you to pray unceasingly to God in heaven to know how you should accept being conquered by God? Is it necessary for you to pray constantly, day and night, to know how you should obey God? There are many among you who say that you are unable to practice because you do not understand. People are simply not paying attention to God’s work in the present day! Many words I have said long ago, but you never paid the least attention to reading them, so it is no wonder that you do not know how to practice. Of course, in today’s age the Holy Spirit still moves people to allow them to feel enjoyment, and He lives together with man. This is the source of those[a] special, pleasurable feelings that often occur in your life. Every once in a while, a day comes when you feel that God is so lovely and you cannot help but pray to Him: “Oh God! Your love is so beautiful and Your image is so great. I wish to love You more deeply. I wish to devote all of myself to expend the entirety of my life. I will dedicate everything to You, as long as it is for You, as long as in doing this I am able to love You….” This is a feeling of pleasure given to you by the Holy Spirit. It is not enlightenment, nor is it illumination; it is the experience of being moved. Experiences similar to this will happen now and then: Sometimes when you are on your way to work, you will pray and draw close to God, and you will be moved to the point where tears will wet your face and you will lose all self-control, and you will be anxious to find a suitable place where you can express all of the fervor inside your heart…. There will be times when you are in some public place, and you will feel that you enjoy so much of God’s love, that your lot is anything but ordinary, and even more that you are living your life with more meaning than anyone else. You will know deeply that God has exalted you and that this is God’s great love for you. In the deepest recesses of your heart you will feel that there is a kind of love in God that is inexpressible and unfathomable for man, as if you know it but have no way to describe it, always giving you pause for thought but leaving you unable to express it completely. At times like this, you will even forget where you are, and you will call out: “Oh God! You are so unfathomable and so beloved!” This will leave people puzzled, but all such things occur quite frequently. You have experienced this sort of thing so many times. This is the life that the Holy Spirit has given to you today and the life that you should now be living. It is not to stop you from living life, but rather to change the way your life is lived. It is a feeling that cannot be described or expressed. It is also the true feeling of man and, even more so, it is the work of the Holy Spirit. You may understand it in your heart, but you have no way to express it clearly to anyone at all. This is not because you are slow of speech or that you stutter, but because it is a kind of feeling that cannot be described in words. You are allowed to enjoy these things today, and this is the life you should be living. Of course, the other aspects of your life are not empty; it is just that this experience of being moved becomes a sort of joy in your life that makes you always willing to enjoy such experiences from the Holy Spirit. But you should know that being moved in this way does not happen so that you may transcend the flesh and go to the third heaven or travel all over the world. Rather, it is so that you may feel and taste the love of God that you enjoy today, experience the significance of God’s work today, and reacquaint yourself with God’s care and protection. All of these things are so that you may come to have a greater knowledge of the work God does today—this is God’s goal in doing this work.
Seeking and groping about was the mode of life prior to God’s incarnation. At that time people could not see God and so had no choice but to seek and grope about. Today you have seen God and He tells you directly how you should practice; this is why you no longer need to grope about or seek. The path He leads man along is the way of truth, and the things He tells to man and that man receives are the life and the truth. You have the way and the life truth, so what need is there to go seeking everywhere? The Holy Spirit will not do two stages of work simultaneously. If, when I have finished speaking My word, people do not eat and drink God’s words carefully and pursue the truth properly, still acting as they did in the Age of Grace, groping about as if they were blind, constantly praying and seeking, would that not mean that this stage of My work—the work of words—is being done in vain? Though I may have finished speaking My word, people still do not completely understand, and this is because they are lacking in caliber. This problem can be resolved by living the church life and through fellowshiping with each other. Before, in the Age of Grace, though God was incarnated, He did not do the work of words, which is why the Holy Spirit worked that way at the time in order to maintain the work. At that time it was primarily the Holy Spirit that did the work, but now it is the incarnate God Himself that is doing it, having taken the place of the work of the Holy Spirit. Before, as long as people prayed frequently, they experienced peace and joy; there was reproach as well as discipline. This was all the work of the Holy Spirit. Now these states are few and far between. The Holy Spirit can only do one kind of work in any one age. If He did two kinds of work simultaneously, with the flesh doing one kind and the Holy Spirit doing another within people, and if what the flesh said did not count and only what the Spirit did counted, then Christ would not have any truth, way, or life to speak of. This would be a self-contradiction. Could the Holy Spirit work like this? God is almighty and all-wise, holy and righteous, and He absolutely does not make any mistakes.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Practice (1)
In the time of belief in Jesus, people did much that was unbeloved by God because they did not understand the truth, yet God has love and mercy, and He has brought man this far, and although man understands nothing, still God allows man to follow Him, and, furthermore, He has led man into today. Is this not the love of God? That which is manifested in God’s disposition is the love of God—this is absolutely right! When the building of the church reached its peak, God did the step of work of the service-doers and cast man into the bottomless pit. The words of the time of the service-doers were all curses: the curses of your flesh, the curses of your corrupt satanic disposition, and the curses of the things about you that do not satisfy God’s will. The work done by God in that step was manifested as majesty, soon after which God carried out the step of the work of chastisement, and there came the trial of death. In such work, man saw the wrath, majesty, judgment, and chastisement of God, yet he also saw God’s grace, His love and His mercy. All that God did, and all that was manifested as His disposition, was God’s love for man, and all that God did was able to fulfill the needs of man. He did it in order to make man perfect, and He provided for man according to his stature. If God had not done this, man would be incapable of coming before God and would have no way of knowing the true face of God. From the time when man first began to believe in God until today, God has gradually provided for man in accordance with man’s stature, so that, inside, man has gradually come to know Him. Only having come to today does man realize just how wonderful is the judgment of God. The step of work of the service-doers was the first incidence of the work of cursing from the time of creation until today. Man was cursed into the bottomless pit. If God had not done that, today man would not have a true knowledge of God; it was only through the curse of God that man officially encountered His disposition. Man was revealed through the trial of the service-doers. He saw that his loyalty was unacceptable, that his stature was too small, that he was incapable of satisfying God’s will, and that his claims of satisfying God at all times were nothing more than words. Although God cursed man in the step of the work of the service-doers, looking back now, that step of God’s work was wonderful: It brought a great turning point for man, and caused a great change in his life disposition. Before the time of the service-doers, man understood nothing of the pursuit of life, what it means to believe in God, or the wisdom of God’s work, and nor did he understand that God’s work can test man. From the time of the service-doers through to today, man sees how wondrous is the work of God—it is unfathomable to man. Man is unable to imagine how God works by using his brain, and he also sees how small his stature is and that too much about him is disobedient. When God cursed man, it was in order to achieve an effect, and He did not put man to death. Although He cursed man, He did so through words, and His curses did not actually befall man, for what God cursed was the disobedience of man, and so the words of His curses were also spoken in order to make man perfect. Whether God judges man or curses him, both make man perfect: Both are done in order to make perfect that which is impure within man. Through this means man is refined, and that which is lacking within man is made perfect through His words and work. Every step of God’s work—whether it be harsh words, or judgment, or chastisement—makes man perfect, and is absolutely appropriate. Never throughout the ages has God done work such as this; today, He works within you so that you appreciate His wisdom. Although you have suffered some pain within you, your hearts feel steadfast and at peace; it is your blessing to be able to enjoy this stage of the work of God. Regardless of what you are able to gain in the future, all that you see of God’s work in you today is love. If man does not experience God’s judgment and refinement, his actions and fervor will always remain at surface level, and his disposition will always remain unchanged. Does this count as having been gained by God? Today, although there is still much within man that is arrogant and conceited, man’s disposition is much more stable than before. God’s dealing with you is done in order to save you, and although you may feel some pain at the time, the day will come when there occurs a change in your disposition. At that time, you will look back and see how wise the work of God is, and at that time you will be able to truly understand God’s will.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God
That man is able to suffer for God and has been able to come this far is, in one regard, because of God’s love, and in another regard, because of God’s salvation; moreover, it is because of the judgment and the work of chastisement that God has carried out in man. If you are without the judgment, chastisement, and trials of God, and if God has not made you suffer, then, in all honesty you do not truly love God. The greater God’s work in man, and the greater man’s suffering, the more apparent it is just how meaningful God’s work is, and the more that man’s heart is able to truly love God. How do you learn how to love God? Without torment and refinement, without painful trials—and if, furthermore, all that God gave man were grace, love, and mercy—would you be able to reach a point of truly loving God? On one hand, during God’s trials man comes to know his deficiencies and to see that he is insignificant, contemptible, and lowly, that he has nothing and is nothing; on the other hand, during His trials God creates different environments for man that make man more able to experience the loveliness of God. Although the pain is great, and sometimes insurmountable—even reaching the level of crushing grief—having experienced it, man sees how lovely God’s work in him is, and only upon this foundation is there born in man true love for God. Today man sees that with the grace, love, and mercy of God alone, he is incapable of truly knowing himself, and much less is he able to know the substance of man. Only through both the refinement and judgment of God, and during the process of refinement itself, can man know his deficiencies, and know that he has nothing. Thus, man’s love of God is built upon the foundation of the refinement and judgment of God. If you only enjoy the grace of God, having a peaceful family life or material blessings, then you have not gained God, and your belief in God cannot be considered successful. God has already carried out one stage of the work of grace in the flesh, and has already bestowed material blessings upon man, but man cannot be made perfect with grace, love, and mercy alone. In man’s experiences, he encounters some of God’s love and sees the love and mercy of God, yet having experienced for a period of time, he sees that God’s grace and His love and mercy are incapable of making man perfect, incapable of revealing that which is corrupt within man, and incapable of ridding man of his corrupt disposition, or making perfect his love and faith. God’s work of grace was the work of one period, and man cannot rely on enjoying the grace of God in order to know God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God
a. The original text reads “These are some.”