The Mystery of the Incarnation (4) Part Two
God’s saving of man is not done directly using the method of the Spirit and the identity of the Spirit, for His Spirit can neither be touched nor seen by man, neither can man draw near. If He tried to save man directly using the perspective of the Spirit, man would be unable to receive His salvation. If God did not put on the outward form of a created man, there would be no way for man to receive this salvation. For man has no way of approaching Him, much as no one was able to go near the cloud of Jehovah. Only by becoming a created human being, that is, only by putting His word into the body of flesh that He is about to become, can He personally work the word into all who follow Him. Only then can man personally see and hear His word, and moreover enter into possession of His word, and by this means come to be fully saved. If God did not become flesh, no one of flesh and blood would be able to receive such great salvation, nor would a single person be saved. If the Spirit of God worked directly in the midst of mankind, all humanity would be struck down, or else, with no way of coming into touch with God, they would be completely carried away captive by Satan. The first incarnation was to redeem man from sin, to redeem him by means of the fleshly body of Jesus, that is, He saved man from the cross, but the corrupt satanic disposition still remained within man. The second incarnation is no longer to serve as a sin offering but rather to save fully those who were redeemed from sin. This is done so that those who have been forgiven may be delivered from their sins and made fully clean, and by attaining a changed disposition, break free of Satan’s influence of darkness and return before the throne of God. Only in this way can man be fully sanctified. After the Age of Law had come to an end, and beginning with the Age of Grace, God began the work of salvation, which continues until the last days when, in judging and chastising the human race for their rebelliousness, He will completely purify mankind. Only then will God conclude His work of salvation and enter into rest. Therefore, in the three stages of work, only twice has God become flesh to carry out His work among man Himself. That is because only one in the three stages of work is to guide men in leading their lives, while the other two consist of the work of salvation. Only by becoming flesh can God live alongside man, experience the suffering of the world, and live in a normal body of flesh. Only in this way can He supply men with the practical way that they need as created beings. It is through the incarnation of God that man receives full salvation from God, and not directly from heaven in answer to his prayers. For, man being of flesh and blood, he has no way of seeing the Spirit of God, much less of approaching His Spirit. All that man can come into contact with is God’s incarnate flesh, and only by means of this is man able to grasp all the ways and all the truths and receive full salvation. The second incarnation will be sufficient to purge away the sins of man and to fully purify him. Hence, with the second incarnation, the entirety of God’s work in the flesh will be brought to a close and the significance of God’s incarnation be made complete. Thenceforth, the work of God in the flesh will have entirely come to an end. After the second incarnation, He will not become flesh a third time for His work. For His entire management will have come to an end. The incarnation of the last days will have fully gained His chosen people, and humanity in the last days will all have been classed according to kind. He will no longer do the work of salvation, nor will He return to the flesh to carry out any work. In the work of the last days, the word is mightier than the manifestation of signs and wonders, and the authority of the word surpasses that of signs and wonders. The word exposes all the corrupt dispositions buried deep in the heart of man. You have no way of recognizing them on your own. When they are laid bare before you through the word, you will naturally come to discover them; you will not be able to deny them, and you will be utterly convinced. Is this not the authority of the word? This is the result achieved by the work of the word today. Therefore, it is not through the healing of sickness and casting out of demons that man can be fully saved from his sins, nor can he be made fully complete by the manifestation of signs and wonders. The authority to heal sickness and cast out demons only gives man grace, but the flesh of man still belongs to Satan and the corrupt satanic disposition still remains within man. In other words, that which has not been made clean still pertains to sin and to filth. Only after he has been made clean through the agency of the word can man be gained by God and become sanctified. When the demons were cast out of man and he was redeemed, this meant only that he was wrested out of Satan’s hands and returned to God. However, without being made clean or changed by God, he remains as corrupt man. Within man still exist filth, opposition, and rebelliousness; man has only returned to God through His redemption, but he has not the slightest knowledge of God and is still capable of resisting and betraying Him. Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons had already been planted within him and, after thousands of years of being corrupted by Satan, he has within him an established nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than a case of redemption in which man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within him has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before becoming worthy to serve God. By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt essence within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as through refinement, man can purge away his corruption and be made pure. Rather than deeming this stage of work to be that of salvation, it would be more apt to say it is the work of purification. In truth, this stage is that of conquest as well as the second stage in the work of salvation. It is through judgment and chastisement by the word that man arrives at being gained by God, and it is through the use of the word to refine, judge, and disclose that all of the impurities, notions, motives, and individual aspirations within man’s heart are completely revealed. For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of mankind sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even though the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition. For instance, when people realized that they were descended from Moab, they brought forth words of complaint, ceased to pursue life, and became utterly negative. Does this not show that humanity is still unable to fully submit under the dominion of God? Is this not precisely their corrupt satanic disposition? When you were not being subjected to chastisement, your hands were raised higher than all others, even that of Jesus. And you cried out in a loud voice: “Be a beloved son of God! Be an intimate of God! We would rather die than bow down to Satan! Revolt against the old Satan! Revolt against the great red dragon! May the great red dragon fall abjectly from power! May God make us complete!” Your cries were louder than all others. But then came the time of chastisement and, once again, the corrupt disposition of humanity was revealed. Then, their cries ceased, and their resolution failed. This is the corruption of man; running deeper than sin, it is something planted by Satan and deeply rooted within man. It is not easy for man to become aware of his sins; he has no way of recognizing his own deeply rooted nature, and he must rely on judgment by the word in order to achieve this result. Only thus can man gradually be changed from this point onward. Man shouted thus in the past because he had no understanding of his inherent corrupt disposition. These are the impurities that exist within man. Throughout such a long period of judgment and chastisement, man lived in an atmosphere of tension. Was this not all achieved through the agency of the word? Did you not also cry out with a very loud voice prior to the trial of the service-doers? “Enter the kingdom! All those who accept this name shall enter into the kingdom! All shall partake of God!” When the trial of the service-doers came, you no longer cried out. At the very beginning, all cried out, “Oh God! Wherever You place me, I shall submit to being steered by You.” Upon reading the words of God, “Who will be My Paul?” people said, “I am willing!” Then they saw the words, “And what of the faith of Job?” and said, “I am willing to take upon myself the faith of Job. God, please put me to the test!” When the trial of the service-doers came, they collapsed at once and could hardly stand up again. After that, little by little, the impurities in their heart gradually diminished. Was this not achieved through the word? So, what you have experienced today are results achieved through the word, even greater than those achieved through Jesus’ working of signs and wonders. The glory of God that you see and the authority of God Himself that you see are not merely seen by means of the crucifixion, by means of the healing of sickness and the casting out of demons, but even more so by means of the judgment of His word. This shows you that the authority and power of God do not consist only of the working of signs, the healing of sickness, and the casting out of demons, but that the judgment of God’s word is better able to represent the authority of God and to reveal His almightiness.
What man has achieved now—his present stature, knowledge, love, loyalty, obedience, and insight—these are results attained through the judgment of the word. That you are able to have loyalty and to remain standing until this day is attained through the agency of the word. Now man sees that the work of God incarnate is indeed extraordinary, and there is much in it that cannot be attained by man, and that are mysteries and wonders. Therefore, many have submitted. Some have never submitted to any man since the day of their birth, yet when they see the words of God this day, they fully submit without noticing they have done so, and they do not venture to scrutinize or say anything else. Humanity has fallen under the word and lies prostrate under the judgment of the word. If the Spirit of God spoke directly to man, mankind would all submit to the voice, falling down without words of revelation, much in the way that Paul fell to the ground in the light on the road to Damascus. If God continued to work in this way, man would never be able to come to know his own corruption through the judgment of the word and thereby attain salvation. Only through becoming flesh can God 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. It is done to make known the authority of God incarnate, to make known the results achieved by the work of the word, and to make known that the Spirit has come in the flesh and demonstrates His authority through judging man by the word. Although His flesh is the outward form of an ordinary and normal humanity, it is the results His words achieve that show to man He is full of authority, that He is God Himself, and that His words are the expression of God Himself. By this means all humanity is shown that He is God Himself, that He is God Himself who became flesh, that He is to be offended by none, and that no one can surpass His judgment by the word, and no force of darkness can prevail over His authority. Man submits to Him entirely because He is the Word become flesh, because of His authority, and because of His judgment by the word. The work brought by His incarnate flesh is the authority that He possesses. 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 essence 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. All this practical work can achieve results. Even though no man realizes that He holds authority, or sees that He is not to be offended, or sees His wrath, He achieves the intended results of His words through His veiled authority, His hidden wrath, and the words He openly speaks. In other words, through His tone of voice, the sternness of His speech, and all the wisdom of His words, man is utterly convinced. In this way, man submits to the word of God incarnate, who seemingly has no authority, thereby fulfilling God’s aim of saving man. This is another aspect of the significance of His incarnation: to speak more realistically and allow the reality of His words to have an effect upon man, so that man may witness the power of the word of God. Therefore, were this work not done by means of the incarnation, it would not achieve the slightest results and would not be able to fully save sinful people. 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 possessed of 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 mankind 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. By the same token, during the first incarnation, only the flesh of God incarnate could redeem man through His crucifixion, whereas there would have been no way for the Spirit of God to be crucified as a sin offering for man. God could directly become flesh to serve as a sin offering for man, but man could not directly ascend to heaven to take the sin offering that God had prepared for him. This being so, all that is possible would be to ask God to run back and forth a few times between heaven and earth, not to have man ascend to heaven to take this salvation, for man had fallen and, moreover, man simply could not ascend to heaven, much less obtain the sin offering. Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to come among mankind and personally do the work that simply could not be accomplished by man. Every time God becomes flesh, it is out of absolute necessity. If any of the stages could have been carried out directly by the Spirit of God, He would not have submitted to the indignity of being incarnated.
In this final stage of work, results are achieved through the agency of the word. Through the word, man comes to understand many mysteries and the work that God has done through generations past; through the word, man is enlightened by the Holy Spirit; through the word, man comes to understand the mysteries never before unraveled by past generations, as well as the work of prophets and apostles of times past, and the principles by which they worked; through the word, man also comes to understand the disposition of God Himself, as well as the rebelliousness and resistance of man, and he comes to know his own essence. Through these steps of work and through all the words spoken, man comes to know the work of the Spirit, the work God’s incarnate flesh does, and even more, His entire disposition. Your knowledge of God’s work of management over six thousand years was also gained through the word. Was not the knowledge of your former notions and your success in putting them aside also attained through the word? In the previous stage, Jesus worked signs and wonders, but there are no signs and wonders in this stage. Was not your understanding of why God does not reveal signs and wonders also achieved through the word? Therefore, the words spoken in this stage surpass the work done by the apostles and prophets of generations past. Even the prophecies told by the prophets could not have achieved this result. The prophets spoke only prophecies, they spoke of what would happen in the future, but not of the work God wished to do at the time. Nor did they speak to guide mankind in their lives, or to bestow truths upon mankind, or to reveal mysteries to them, much less to bestow life. Of the words spoken in this stage, there is prophecy and truth, but mainly these words serve to bestow life upon man. The words at present are unlike the prophecies of the prophets. This is a stage of work for the life of man, to change man’s life disposition, and not for the sake of speaking prophecy. The first stage was the work of Jehovah: His work was to prepare a path for man toon earth. It was the work of commencement to find a place of origin for the work on earth. At that time, Jehovah taught the Israelites to observe the Sabbath, honor their parents, and live peaceably with one another. This was because the people of that time did not understand what constituted man, nor did they understand how to live on earth. It was necessary for Him in the first stage of work to guide mankind in leading their lives. All that Jehovah spoke to them had not previously been known to mankind or been in their possession. At that time, God raised up many prophets to speak prophecies, and they all did so under the guidance of Jehovah. This was simply one item in the work of God. In the first stage, God did not become flesh, and so He instructed all tribes and nations through the prophets. When Jesus worked in His time, He did not speak as much as in the present day. This stage of the work of the word in the last days has never been done before in ages and generations past. Though Isaiah, Daniel and John spoke many prophecies, their prophecies were entirely different from the words spoken now. What they spoke were only prophecies, but the words spoken now are not. If I turned all I speak of now into prophecies, would you be able to understand? Supposing that what I spoke of was about matters after I had gone, how could you then gain understanding? The work of the word was never done in the time of Jesus or in the Age of Law. Perhaps some will say, “Did not Jehovah also speak words in the time of His work? Did Jesus not, in addition to healing sickness, casting out demons, and working signs and wonders, also speak words at that time He was working?” There are differences between the things that are said. What was the essence of the words uttered by Jehovah? He was only guiding mankind to lead their lives on earth, which did not touch on spiritual matters in life. Why is it said that, when Jehovah spoke, it was to instruct the people of all places? The word “instruct” means to tell explicitly and command directly. He did not supply man with life; rather, He simply took man by the hand and taught man how to revere Him, without too much in the way of parables. The work Jehovah did in Israel was not to deal with or discipline man or to deliver judgment and chastisement, it was to guide him. Jehovah commanded Moses to tell His people to gather manna in the wilderness. Every morning before sunrise, they were to gather manna, just enough for them to eat that day. The manna could not be kept until the next day, as it would then become moldy. He did not lecture people or expose their natures, nor did He expose their ideas and thoughts. He did not change people but rather guided them in leading their lives. The people of that time were like children, understanding nothing and capable only of some basic mechanical movements, and so Jehovah only decreed laws to guide the multitudes.
In order to spread the gospel, so that all who seek with a true heart may gain knowledge of the work done this day and be thoroughly convinced, you must arrive at a clear understanding of the inside story, the essence, and the significance of the work done in each stage. Make it so that, by listening to your fellowship, others may understand the work of Jehovah, the work of Jesus and, even more, all the work of the God of today, as well as the connections and the differences between the three stages of work. Make it so that, after they have finished listening, others will see that the three stages do not disrupt one another, but that all are the work of the same Spirit. Although They work in different ages, the content of the work They carry out is different, and the words They speak are different, yet the principles by which They work are one and the same. These things are the greatest visions that all people who follow God should understand.