People are stunned when they read God’s utterances, and they think that God has performed a great deed in the spiritual realm, something of which man is incapable, and that God Himself must accomplish in person. So God once more speaks words of tolerance toward humankind. They are conflicted in their hearts: “God is not a God of mercy and lovingkindness, He is a God who only strikes man down. Why is He being tolerant toward us? Could it be that God has once again shifted into the method?” When these notions, these thoughts, enter their hearts, they try their hardest to struggle against them. But after God’s work goes on for some time, the Holy Spirit does great work in the church, and everyone begins to perform their function, all people enter into God’s method, for no one can see any imperfection in what God says and does. As for what precisely God’s next step will be, no one has the faintest inkling. As God has said: “Of all under heaven, who is not in My hands? Who does not act after My guidance?” I offer you some advice, however: In matters that are not clear to you, none of you must say or do anything. I say this not to dampen your enthusiasm, but to allow you to follow God’s guidance in your actions. On no account should you lose heart or become doubtful because of My mention of “imperfections”; My aim is chiefly to remind you to pay attention to God’s words. People are stunned again when they read God’s words of “Be perceptive toward matters of the spirit, attentive toward My word, and truly capable of regarding My Spirit and My being, and My word and My being, as an inseparable whole, so that all people can satisfy Me in My presence.” Yesterday, they were reading words of warning, words about God’s tolerance—but today, God is suddenly talking of spiritual matters. What is going on? Why does God keep changing the method with which He speaks? Why is all this to be regarded as an inseparable whole? Could it be that God’s words are not practical? After a closer reading of God’s words, it is discovered that when the flesh of God and His Spirit are separated, the flesh becomes a physical body with fleshly attributes—what people refer to as a walking corpse. The incarnate flesh comes from the Spirit: He is the embodiment of the Spirit, the Word become flesh. In other words, God Himself lives in the flesh. Such is the seriousness of the separation of God's Spirit from His being. As a result, though He is called human, He is not of humankind. He is without human attributes, He is the being with which God clothes Himself, the being whom God approves. God’s word embodies the Spirit of God, and the word of God is directly revealed in the flesh—which, moreover, shows that God lives in the flesh and is the more practical God, thus proving the existence of God and ending the age of man’s rebelliousness toward God. After telling people of the path to knowing God, God changes topic once again, turning to the other side of the matter.
“I have set foot upon all there is, I have looked out across the vast expanse of the universe, and I have walked among all people, tasting the sweetness and bitterness among man.” Though simple, these words are not easily understood by humankind. The topic has changed, but in essence, it remains the same: It still enables people to know the incarnate God. Why does God say He has tasted the sweetness and bitterness among man? Why does He say He has walked among all people? God is the Spirit, and He is also the incarnate being. The Spirit, not bound by the limitations of the incarnate being, can set foot upon all there is, the Spirit can look out across the vast expanse of the universe, showing that the Spirit of God fills all the cosmos, that He covers the earth from pole to pole, that nothing is not arranged by God’s hand and nowhere can God’s footprints not be found. Though the Spirit has become flesh and been born human, the existence of the Spirit does not negate all human needs; God’s being eats, clothes Himself, sleeps, and resides as normal, and He does what people should do as normal. Yet because His inner substance is different, He is not the same as “man” that one speaks of. And though He suffers among humankind, He does not forsake the Spirit because of this suffering. Though He is blessed, He does not forget the Spirit because of these blessings. The Spirit and the being work in silent rapport. The Spirit and the being cannot be sundered, nor have They ever been sundered, for the being is the embodiment of the Spirit, He comes from the Spirit, the Spirit that has a form. Thus transcendence is impossible for the Spirit in the flesh; that is, the Spirit is incapable of supernatural things, which is to say, the Spirit cannot depart from the physical body. If He were to depart from the fleshly body, God’s incarnation would lose all meaning. Only when the Spirit is fully expressed in the physical body can man know the practical God Himself, and only then shall God’s will be achieved. Only after separately introducing the fleshly body and the Spirit to man does God point out the blindness and disobedience of man: “[Y]et never has man truly known Me, never has he paid Me any heed during My travels.” On the one hand, God is saying that He secretly hides in the fleshly body, never doing anything supernatural for people to see; on the other hand, He complains that man does not know Him. There is no contradiction in this. In fact, from a detailed point of view, it is not hard to see that God achieves His aims from these two sides. If God were to display supernatural signs and wonders, He would not need to undertake great work. With His own mouth, He would simply curse people to death, and they would instantly die, and thus all people would be convinced—but this does not achieve God’s aim in becoming flesh. If God were to truly act thus, people would never be able to consciously believe in His existence. They would be incapable of true faith, and would, moreover, mistake the devil for God. More importantly, people would never be able to know God’s disposition—and is this not one aspect of the significance of God’s being in the flesh? If people were incapable of knowing God, then that vague God, that supernatural God, would forever hold sway among man. And in this, would people not be possessed by their own notions? To put it more plainly, would it not be Satan, the devil that holds sway? “Why do I say I have taken back power? Why do I say there is so much significance of the incarnation?” The moment God becomes flesh is the moment that He takes back power, and it is also the time when His divinity emerges directly to act. All people gradually come to know the practical God, and thus completely expunge Satan’s place in their hearts, giving God a deeper place in their hearts. In the past, people saw the God in their minds in the image of Satan, as a God who was invisible and intangible; and yet they believed this God not only to exist, but to be capable of performing all manner of signs and wonders, and of revealing many mysteries, such as the ugly faces of those possessed by demons. This sufficiently proves that the God in people’s minds is not the image of God, but the image of something other than God. God has said that He wishes to occupy 0.1 percent of people’s hearts. This is the very highest standard that He asks of man. Beyond what’s on their surface, there is also a practical side to these words. If it were not explained thus, people would think God’s requirements of them too low, as though God understood too little of them. Is this not the mentality of man?
By combining the aforementioned and the example of Peter below, one will find that Peter really did know God better than anyone else, for he was able to turn his back on the vague God and pursue the knowledge of the practical God. Why is special mention made of how his parents were demons who opposed God? It proves that Peter was not pursuing the God in his heart. His parents were the representation of the vague God; this is the point of God mentioning them. Most people do not pay much attention to this fact. Instead, they concentrate on the prayers of Peter. In some people, the prayers of Peter are ever on their lips, constantly on their minds, yet they never compare the vague God with the knowledge of Peter. Why did Peter turn against his parents and seek the knowledge of God? Why did Peter spur himself on with the lessons of those who had failed? Why did he assimilate the faith and love of all those who had loved God throughout the ages? Peter came to know that all positive things come from God and are directly issued from Him without being processed by Satan. This shows that the God he knew was the practical God, not the supernatural God. Why is it said that Peter focused on assimilating the faith and love of all those who had loved God throughout the ages? From this it can be seen that the failure of people throughout the ages is mainly because they had only faith and love but were incapable of knowing the practical God. As a result, their faith remained vague. Why does God make multiple mention of the faith of Job, without saying that he knew God, and why does God say Job was not the equal of Peter? Job’s words—“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees You”—show that he was only possessed of faith, and had no knowledge. The words “The contradistinction of Peter’s parents gave him a greater knowledge of My lovingkindness and mercy” often provoke a raft of questions from most people: Why did Peter need a contradistinction to know God? Why was he incapable of knowing God directly? Why was it that he knew only God’s mercy and lovingkindness, and God did not talk of anything else? It is only possible to seek the knowledge of the practical God after recognizing the unreality of the vague God; the aim of these words is to make people expel the vague God in their hearts. If, since the time of creation up until today, people had always known God’s true face, they would not be capable of discerning the deeds of Satan, for that common saying of man—“one does not notice level ground until one has crossed a mountain”—demonstrates God’s point in speaking these words. Because He wishes to give people a deeper understanding of the veracity of the example He gave, God deliberately emphasizes mercy and lovingkindness, proving that the age Peter lived in was the Age of Grace. From another perspective, this reveals all the more the hideous countenance of the devil, who does nothing but harm and corrupt man, setting God’s mercy and lovingkindness in even starker contrast.
God also outlines the facts of Peter’s trials and describes their actual circumstances, further indicating to people that God is not only possessed of mercy and lovingkindness, but also of majesty and wrath, and that those who live in peace do not necessarily live amid God’s blessings. Telling people about Peter’s experiences after his trials is even greater proof of the veracity of Job’s words “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Thus it is demonstrated that Peter’s knowledge of God had indeed attained unprecedented realms, realms never achieved by the people of ages past, which was also the fruit of his assimilation of the faith and love of all those who had loved God throughout the ages and his encouragement of himself using the lessons of people who had failed in the past. For this reason, all who attain the true knowledge of God are called “fruit,” and that includes Peter. Peter’s prayers to God show his true knowledge of God during his trials. The fly in the ointment, however, is that he was not capable of fully grasping God’s will, which is why God only asked to “occupy 0.1 percent of the human heart” upon the basis of Peter’s knowledge of Him. That even Peter, the man who knew God best, was incapable of accurately grasping God’s will shows that humans lack the faculty to know God, for they have been so corrupted by Satan; this allows all people to know the substance of man. These two preconditions—people’s lack of a faculty for knowing God and their utter permeation by Satan—are a foil for God’s great power, for God only works with words, He does not undertake any enterprise, and thus does He take a certain place in people’s hearts. But why do people only need to achieve that 0.1 percent to satisfy God’s will? This can be explained by God not having created this faculty in man. If, in the absence of this faculty, man were to arrive at a 100 percent knowledge of God, then God’s every move would be clear as day to them—and, given the inherent nature of man, people would immediately rebel against God, they would stand up and openly oppose Him, which is how Satan fell. So God never underestimates people, for the very reason that He has already thoroughly dissected them, and knows everything about them with crystal clarity, even down to exactly how much water is in their blood. How much more obvious, then, is humanity’s nature to Him? God never makes mistakes, and He chooses the words of His utterances with the utmost precision. Thus there is no conflict between Peter not having an accurate grasp of God’s will and his having the greatest knowledge of God; the two, furthermore, are completely unrelated. It was not in order to focus people’s attention on Peter that God mentioned him as an example. Why was someone like Job not able to know God, and yet Peter was? Why would God say that man is capable of attaining this, and yet say that it is due to His great power? Are people really naturally good? This is not easy for people to know; no one would realize the inner significance of this if I did not speak of it. The aim of these words is to give people an insight, so that they can have the faith to cooperate with God. Only then can God work with the cooperation of man. Such is the actual situation in the spiritual realm, and it is completely unfathomable to man. Eliminating Satan’s place in people’s hearts and giving that place to God instead—this is what it means to repel Satan’s onslaught, and only thus can it be said that Christ has descended to earth, only thus can it be said that the kingdoms on earth have become Christ’s kingdom.
At this point, mention of Peter’s having been a model and exemplar for several thousands of years is not to say merely that he was a model and exemplar; these words are a reflection of the battle being waged in the spiritual realm. Satan has been working in man for all this time in the vain hope of devouring him, thereby causing God to destroy the world and lose His witnesses. Yet God has said, “I will first create a model so that I may take up the smallest position within the human heart. At this stage, humanity neither pleases nor fully knows Me; nevertheless, because of My great power, humans will become able to submit to Me wholly and cease to rebel against Me, and I will use this example to vanquish Satan. That is to say, I will use that 0.1 percent of the human heart I occupy to repress all the forces that Satan has been wielding over humanity.” So, today God mentions Peter as an example so that he may serve as a template for all of humankind to emulate and practice. Combined with the opening passage, this demonstrates the veracity of what God said about the situation in the spiritual realm: “Today is unlike the past: I shall do things never beheld since the time of creation, shall speak words never heard throughout the ages, for I ask that all people come to know Me in the flesh.” From this it is evident that God has begun to act on His words today. People can only see what’s happening on the outside, they can’t see what’s actually going on in the spiritual realm, and so God directly says, “These are the steps of My management, but man has not the slightest inkling. Though I have spoken plainly, people remain addled; it is difficult to get through to them. Is this not the lowliness of man?” There are words within these words: They explain that a battle is going on in the spiritual realm, just as described above.
God’s will is not entirely achieved after His brief description of the story of Peter, so God makes the following demand of man regarding the matters of Peter: “Throughout the cosmos and the firmament, among everything in heaven and on earth, all things upon the earth and in heaven give their every effort to My final stage of work. Surely you do not wish to be spectators, ordered about by the forces of Satan?” People are profoundly enlightened after reading about Peter’s knowledge, and in order to be even more effective, God shows people the consequence of their debauchery, unrestraint, and lack of knowledge of God; moreover, He tells humanity—once again, and with greater precision—of what’s actually happening in the battle in the spiritual realm. Only thus are people more vigilant against being taken by Satan. Further, it makes clear that if people fall this time, they will not be saved by God as they were this time. Taken together, these warnings deepen humanity’s impression of God’s words, they make people more treasure God’s mercy, and cherish God’s words of warning, so that God’s aim in saving humankind may truly be attained.