Question 6: We all know that the Lord Jesus was the incarnation of God. Having completed His work, He was crucified and then resurrected, appearing before all His disciples, and He ascended into heaven in His glorious spiritual body. Just as the Bible says: “You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Act 1:11). So, biblical scripture confirms that when the Lord comes again, it will be His resurrected spiritual body appearing to man. In the last days, why is God incarnated as the Son of man to do the work of judgment? What is the difference between the resurrected spiritual body of the Lord Jesus and His incarnation as the Son of man?
Most of the faithful believe that the returned Lord will appear to them in His spiritual body; that is, in the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus in which He appeared to man for forty days after His resurrection. We believers all understand very well that on the surface, the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus after He was resurrected appeared in the same image of His incarnate flesh. However, the spiritual body is not constrained by the material world, space, or location; it can appear and disappear at will, leaving man shocked and amazed. Accounts of this are recorded in the Bible. Before the Lord Jesus was crucified, He had been speaking and working in normal humanity of the flesh. Whether He was expressing truth, interacting with people, or performing miracles, they felt that He was normal in every way. What humans saw was this flesh actually and truly doing work, and actually and truly suffering torment and paying the price. In the end, it was this flesh that was nailed to the cross as a sin offering for humanity’s sake, and this brought God’s work of redemption to completion. This is a widely acknowledged fact. Just think for a moment: If it were the Lord Jesus’ spiritual body doing work, would He be able to associate with and hold normal conversations with men? Could He actually and truly suffer torments and pay the price? Could He be nailed to the cross for mankind’s sake? He could do none of these things. If it were His spiritual body doing the work, could we humans interact with Him easily? Would we betray our corrupt dispositions? Would we form conceptions about Him? Would we dare rebel against and judge God at will? That would be impossible. Men have normal humanity, they are all subject to the constraints of the material world, space, and location. Man’s thinking process is also normal. If man were to come into contact with the work of the spiritual body, they would be frightened and seized with panic. Their thoughts would become crazed and maniacal. Faced with this kind of situation, God would be hard-pressed to achieve success in His work of the salvation of mankind. So, the effect achieved by working within the confines of normal humanity far outpaces that within the spiritual body. Throughout the ages, God’s chosen people have never experienced the work of God’s spiritual body. It would certainly be unsuitable for the spiritual body to directly express truth, interact with people and shepherd the churches.
The work of judgment that the second coming of God performs in the last days uses the expression of the word to purify, save, and perfect man, its goal is also to expose and eliminate man, classifying man according to kind, and then rewarding the good while punishing the wicked. If God were to appear to man in the form of His spiritual body, all men, good or evil, would prostrate themselves before Him, then how would He separate the good from the evil? Also, if God were to appear in His spiritual body, man would descend into a panic, and chaos would erupt throughout the world. If that were the case, how would God go about normally conducting His work of judgment in the last days? How, also, would God be able to fulfill His plan of making complete a group of men that accord with God’s will before the calamities? So, in the last days, God still must take on a flesh as the Son of man with normal humanity. Only in this way can He work and live within human world, and only in this way can He express the truth and judge, purify man in a practical manner so that man may be wrested from the influences of Satan, be saved by God, and become God’s people. The incarnate Lord Jesus worked within normal humanity to achieve the redemption of humanity. The Lord Jesus’ resurrected spiritual body appeared to man just to prove that the Lord Jesus was the incarnation of God. This was done to strengthen man’s faith. So, God’s spiritual body only came to appear to man, not to do work. God’s incarnate flesh has to have normal humanity to be able to do work amongst man and achieve the redemption and salvation of mankind. So, if God wants to thoroughly save mankind in His work of judgment in the last days, He must be incarnated and do His work in normal humanity to achieve the best effect. He certainly will not appear to man as the Lord Jesus’ spiritual body to do the work of judgment in the last days. This is something that we, the faithful, all must become clear on.
To gain an even greater understanding of the meaning of the incarnation, let us read from Almighty God’s word. Almighty God says: “The reason why He becomes flesh is because the flesh can also possess authority, and He is capable of carrying out work in a practical manner among mankind, in such a way that it is visible and tangible to man. This work is much more realistic than the work done directly by the Spirit of God, who possesses all authority, and its results are also apparent. This is because God’s incarnate flesh can speak and work in a practical way. The outward form of His flesh holds no authority, and can be approached by man, whereas His substance does carry authority, but His authority is visible to none. When He speaks and works, man is unable to detect the existence of His authority; this facilitates Him in doing work of a practical nature. … If God did not become flesh, He would remain the Spirit who is both invisible and intangible to man. Man being a creature of flesh, he and God belong to two different worlds and are endowed with different natures. The Spirit of God is incompatible with man, who is of flesh, and there is simply no way of establishing relations between them, not to mention that man is incapable of turning into a spirit. This being so, the Spirit of God must become a created being in order to do His original work. God can both ascend to the highest place and humble Himself to become a human creature, doing work among men and living in their midst, but man cannot ascend to the highest place and become a spirit, and even less can he descend to the lowest place. This is why God must become flesh to carry out His work” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“Some things about the incarnate God are different from how humans imagine; they imagine that these things are invisible, untouchable, mysterious, and that He is able to know something without being constrained by space or geography. If so, then that is not the flesh but the spiritual body. After Jesus was nailed to the cross and then resurrected, He could pass through the door, but that was the resurrected Jesus. Jesus before the resurrection could not have passed through a wall. He was constrained by space, geography, and time. That is the normal aspect of the flesh” (“How to Understand the Relationship Between God’s Flesh and Spirit” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
“Because the one who is judged is man, man who is of the flesh and has been corrupted, and it is not the spirit of Satan that is judged directly, the work of judgment is not carried out in the spiritual world, but among man. No one is more suitable, and qualified, than God in the flesh for the work of judging the corruption of man’s flesh. If judgment were carried out directly by the Spirit of God, then it would not be all-embracing. Furthermore, such work would be difficult for man to accept, for the Spirit is unable to come face-to-face with man, and because of this, the effects would not be immediate, much less would man be able to behold the unoffendable disposition of God more clearly. Satan can only be fully defeated if God in the flesh judges the corruption of mankind. Being the same as man possessed of normal humanity, God in the flesh can directly judge the unrighteousness of man; this is the mark of His innate holiness, and of His extraordinariness. Only God is qualified to, and in the position to judge man, for He is possessed of the truth, and righteousness, and so He is able to judge man. Those who are without the truth and righteousness are not fit to judge others. If this work were done by the Spirit of God, then it would not be victory over Satan. The Spirit is inherently more exalted than mortal beings, and the Spirit of God is inherently holy, and triumphant over the flesh. If the Spirit did this work directly, He would not be able to judge all of man’s disobedience, and could not reveal all of man’s unrighteousness. For the work of judgment is also carried out through man’s conceptions of God, and man has never had any conceptions of the Spirit, and so the Spirit is incapable of better revealing the unrighteousness of man, much less of completely disclosing such unrighteousness. The incarnate God is the enemy of all those who do not know Him. Through judging man’s conceptions and opposition to Him, He discloses all the disobedience of mankind. The effects of His work in the flesh are more apparent than those of the work of the Spirit. And so, the judgment of all mankind is not carried out directly by the Spirit, but is the work of the incarnate God” (“Corrupt Mankind Needs Salvation by the Incarnate God Most of All” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“Only through becoming flesh can He personally deliver His words into the ears of each and every human being, so that all who have ears may hear His words and receive His work of judgment by the word. Only this is the result achieved by His word, rather than the Spirit becoming manifest to frighten man into submission. It is only through this practical and yet extraordinary work that the old disposition of man, hidden deep within for many years, can be fully exposed, so that man may recognize it and have it changed. These things are all the practical work of God incarnate, in which, speaking and executing judgment in a practical manner, He achieves the results of judgment upon man by the word. This is the authority of God incarnate and the significance of God’s incarnation” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Almighty God’s word clearly explains the difference between God’s work in the spiritual body and the work of God incarnate. It also completely reveals the meaning of God’s work in His incarnation. Despite the fact that the Lord Jesus’ spiritual body can appear to man and come face to face with them, the spiritual body still seems unfathomably mysterious and unapproachable to man, He stirs fear and apprehension in their hearts and causes them to keep a respectful distance. Because the Lord Jesus’ spiritual body cannot interact normally with man and cannot perform work and speak normally amongst men, He therefore is incapable of saving mankind. However, God incarnate is different. He can interact with man in a practical and real way. He can water and supply man, just as the Lord Jesus, living in the company of men, was able to express the truth to supply man, anytime and anywhere. His disciples often sat with Him, listening to His teachings and having heart-to-heart discussions with Him. They directly received His watering and shepherding. Whatever problems or difficulties they faced, the Lord Jesus helped resolve them. They were endowed with an enormous share of life supply. They found God to be amiable and lovely. For this reason, they were able to truly love and obey God. Only once the incarnation of God comes into the realm of man do we have the opportunity to interact with, experience and know God. Only then are we able to see God’s wondrousness and wisdom and practical salvation of humankind with our own eyes. This is one aspect of the significance and practical value of the work of God incarnate. The spiritual body simply cannot achieve this effect.
This fellowship has made one fact very clear to us. Only by being incarnated as the Son of man and working within normal humanity can God practically judge, conquer and purify man. The Lord Jesus’ spiritual body could not achieve nearly the same effect in His work. At first, when God becomes incarnate as the Son of man to do the work of judgment and purification amongst men, we humans will treat God like an ordinary human because we’ve yet to distinguish God’s incarnation for who He really is. We will even form notions with regard to God’s word and work, we’ll treat Christ without respect and refuse to obey Him. We’ll speak in falsities to fool Him, we’ll judge and even oppose and condemn Him. The arrogance, rebelliousness, and resistance of us humans will be fully apparent before Christ. Just as Almighty God says: “The corrupt disposition of man and his rebelliousness and resistance are exposed when he sees Christ, and the rebelliousness and resistance exposed at this time are more absolutely and completely exposed than at any other. It is because Christ is the Son of man—a Son of man who possesses normal humanity—that man neither honors nor respects Him. It is because God lives in the flesh that the rebelliousness of man is brought to light so thoroughly and in such vivid detail. So I say that the coming of Christ has unearthed all the rebelliousness of mankind and has thrown the nature of mankind into sharp relief. This is called ‘luring a tiger down the mountain’ and ‘luring a wolf out of its cave.’” (“Those Who Are Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God expresses the truth to judge, expose, prune and deal with mankind according to the factual reality of their rebellion and resistance. God’s work is truly practical and really reveals men for who they are. When faced with such factual evidence, those who are able to accept the truth will be thoroughly convinced and will admit their own rebellion and resistance. They will also become aware of the holy, righteous and unoffendable disposition of God and will be able to accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s word submissively, so that they may be conquered and saved by God’s practical work. Just as Almighty God says: “The incarnate God is the enemy of all those who do not know Him. Through judging man’s conceptions and opposition to Him, He discloses all the disobedience of mankind. The effects of His work in the flesh are more apparent than those of the work of the Spirit. And so, the judgment of all mankind is not carried out directly by the Spirit, but is the work of the incarnate God. God in the flesh can be seen and touched by man, and God in the flesh can completely conquer man. In his relationship with God in the flesh, man progresses from opposition to obedience, from persecution to acceptance, from conception to knowledge, and from rejection to love. These are the effects of the work of the incarnate God. Man is only saved through the acceptance of His judgment, only gradually comes to know Him through the words of His mouth, is conquered by Him during his opposition to Him, and receives the life supply from Him during the acceptance of His chastisement. All of this work is the work of God in the flesh, and not the work of God in His identity as the Spirit” (“Corrupt Mankind Needs Salvation by the Incarnate God Most of All” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). So, man will only be thoroughly purified and saved if it is the incarnation of God that does the work of judgment in the last days.
Excerpted from Classic Questions and Answers on the Gospel of the Kingdom