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.
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 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.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Going forward, talk of God’s words should be the principle by which you speak. Ordinarily, when you come together, you should engage in fellowship about the words of God, taking God’s words as the content of your interactions, talking about what you know of these words, how you put them into practice, and how the Holy Spirit works. As long as you fellowship the words of God, the Holy Spirit will illuminate you. Achieving the world of God’s words requires the cooperation of man. If you do not enter into this, God will have no way of working; if you keep your mouth shut and do not talk about His words, He will have no way of illuminating you. Whenever you are not otherwise occupied, talk about the words of God, and do not just engage in idle chit chat! Let your life be filled with the words of God—only then will you be a devout believer. It does not matter if your fellowship is superficial. Without shallowness there can be no depth. There must be a process. Through your training, you will grasp the illumination of the Holy Spirit upon you, and how to effectively eat and drink the words of God. After an interval of probing, you will enter into the reality of the words of God. Only if you are resolved to cooperate will you be able to receive the work of the Holy Spirit.
Excerpted from “The Age of Kingdom Is the Age of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
“Sharing and communing experiences” means giving voice to every thought in your heart, your state of being, your experiences and knowledge of God’s words, and the corrupt disposition within you, and then letting others discern them, accept the positive parts, and recognize that which is negative. Only this is sharing, and only this is truly communing. It does not simply involve having certain insights into God’s words or a part of a hymn, and then communing as you please without taking it any further or saying anything related to your own actual life. Everyone talks about doctrinal and theoretical knowledge, but says nothing of knowledge gained 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, about your own inner world. In doing so, how can true communication between people occur? How can there be any real trust? There cannot be any! If a wife never voices the words in her heart to her husband, are they confidants? Do they know what is on each other’s mind? Suppose that they are constantly saying, “I love you!” They say only this, yet have never laid bare what they are actually thinking deep down, 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—so are they really a couple who love each other? If, when together, they have nothing but superficial niceties for each other, then are they truly husband and wife? Certainly not! If brothers and sisters are to be capable of confiding in each other, helping each other out, and providing for one another, then each person must speak of his or her own true experiences. If you do not talk of your own true experiences, and only speak catchphrases and words that are doctrinal and superficial, then you are not an honest person, and you are incapable of being an honest person.
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 people 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; talk about 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 real things from your actual experience that are genuine 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 ponder and think about these matters more. Once people have understood them clearly, they will know how to bear testimony; otherwise, they will be liable to commit shameful and senseless acts.
Excerpted from “Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks