A Selection From the Four Passages of God’s Word on “Concerning the Bible” (Part Two)
8. The Bible is also called the Old and New Testament. Do you know what “testament” refers to? The “testament” in the “Old Testament” comes from Jehovah’s covenant with the people of Israel when He killed the Egyptians and saved the Israelites from the Pharaoh. Of course, the proof of this covenant was the lamb’s blood daubed on lintels, through which God established a covenant with man, one in which it was said that all those who had lamb’s blood on the top and sides of the doorframe were Israelites, they were God’s chosen people, and they would all be spared by Jehovah (for Jehovah was then about to kill all the firstborn sons of Egypt and firstborn sheep and cattle). This covenant has two levels of meaning. None of the people or livestock of Egypt would be delivered by Jehovah; He would kill all of their firstborn sons and firstborn sheep and cattle. Thus, in many books of prophecy it was foretold that the Egyptians would be severely chastised as a result of the covenant of Jehovah. This is the first level of meaning. Jehovah killed the firstborn sons of Egypt and all its firstborn livestock, and He spared all the Israelites, which meant that all those who were of the land of Israel were cherished by Jehovah, and would all be spared; He wished to do long-term work in them, and established the covenant with them using lamb’s blood. From then onward, Jehovah would not kill the Israelites, and said that they would forever be His chosen ones. Among the twelve tribes of Israel, He would embark upon His work for the entire Age of Law, He would open up all His laws to the Israelites, and choose among them prophets and judges, and they would be at the center of His work. He made a covenant with them: Unless the age changed, He would work only among the chosen ones. Jehovah’s covenant was immutable, for it was made in blood, and was established with His chosen people. More important, He had chosen an appropriate scope and target through which to embark upon His work for the whole age, and so people saw the covenant as especially important. This is the covenant’s second level of meaning. With the exception of Genesis, which was before the establishment of the covenant, all the other books in the Old Testament record the work among the Israelites after the establishment of the covenant. Of course, there are occasional accounts of the Gentiles, but overall, the Old Testament documents God’s work in Israel. Because of Jehovah’s covenant with the Israelites, the books written during the Age of Law are called the “Old Testament.” They are named after Jehovah’s covenant with the Israelites.
9. The New Testament is named after the blood shed by Jesus on the cross and His covenant with all those who believed in Him. Jesus’ covenant was this: People had but to believe in Him for their sins to be forgiven by His bloodshed, and thus they would be saved, and reborn through Him, and would no longer be sinners; people had but to believe in Him to receive His grace, and would not suffer in hell after they died. All of the books written during the Age of Grace came after this covenant, and they all document the work and utterances contained in it. They go no further than the salvation of the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion or the covenant; they are all books written by the brothers in the Lord who had experiences. Thus, these books are also named after a covenant: They are called the “New Testament.” These two “testaments” include only the Age of Grace and the Age of Law, and have no connection with the final age. Thus, the Bible is of no great use for today’s people of the last days. At most, it serves as a provisional reference, but it basically has little use value.
10. Not everything in the Bible is a record of the words personally spoken by God. The Bible simply documents the previous two stages of God’s work, of which one part is a record of the foretellings of the prophets, and one part is the experiences and knowledge written by people used by God throughout the ages. Human experiences are tainted with human opinions and knowledge, which is unavoidable. In many of the books of the Bible are human conceptions, human biases, and human absurd interpretations. Of course, most of the words are the result of the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and they are correct interpretations—yet it still cannot be said that they are entirely accurate expressions of the truth. Their views on certain things are nothing more than the knowledge of personal experience, or the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The foretellings of the prophets were personally instructed by God: The prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, Ezra, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel came from the direct instruction of the Holy Spirit, these people were seers, they had received the Spirit of prophecy, they were all prophets of the Old Testament. During the Age of Law these people, who had received the inspirations of Jehovah, spoke many prophecies, which were directly instructed by Jehovah. And why did Jehovah work in them? Because the people of Israel were God’s chosen people: The work of prophets had to be done among them, and they were qualified to receive such revelations. In fact, they themselves didn’t understand God’s revelations to them. The Holy Spirit spoke those words through their mouths so that the people of the future could comprehend those things, and see that they really were the work of the Spirit of God, of the Holy Spirit, and did not come from man, and to give them confirmation of the Holy Spirit’s work.
11. Today, people believe the Bible is God, and that God is the Bible. So, too, do they believe that all the words of the Bible were the only words God spoke, and that they were all said by God. Those who believe in God even think that although all of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament were written by people, they were all given by inspiration of God, and a record of the utterances of the Holy Spirit. This is the erroneous interpretation of people, and it does not completely accord with the facts. In fact, apart from the books of prophecy, most of the Old Testament is historical record. Some of the epistles of the New Testament come from people’s experiences, and some come from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit; the Pauline epistles, for example, arose from the work of a man, they were all the result of the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, and they were written for the churches, were words of exhortation and encouragement for the brothers and sisters of the churches. They were not words spoken by the Holy Spirit—Paul could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit, and neither was he a prophet, much less did he see visions. His epistles were written for the churches of Ephesus, Philadelphia, Galatia, and other churches. And thus, the Pauline epistles of the New Testament are epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, and not inspirations from the Holy Spirit, nor are they the direct utterances of the Holy Spirit. They are merely words of exhortation, comfort, and encouragement that he wrote for the churches during the course of his work. So, too, are they a record of much of Paul’s work at the time. They were written for all of the brothers and sisters in the Lord, and were in order to make the brothers and sisters of all of the churches at the time follow his advice and abide by all of the ways of the Lord Jesus. By no means did Paul say that, be they the churches of that time or of the future, all must eat and drink the things of him, nor did he say that his words all came from God. According to the circumstances of the church at that time, he simply communed with the brothers and sisters, and exhorted them, and inspired belief in them; and he simply preached or reminded people and exhorted them. His words were based upon his own burden, and he supported the people through these words. He did the work of an apostle of the churches of that time, he was a worker who was used by the Lord Jesus, and thus he was given the responsibility of the churches, he was charged with carrying out the work of the churches, he had to learn about the circumstances of the brothers and sisters—and because of this, he wrote epistles for all of the brothers and sisters in the Lord. All he said that was edifying and positive to people was right, but it did not represent the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and he could not represent God. It is an egregious understanding, and a tremendous blasphemy, for people to treat the records of a man’s experiences and a man’s epistles as the words spoken by the Holy Spirit to the churches! That is particularly true when it comes to the epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, for his epistles were written for the brothers and sisters based on the circumstances and situation of each church at the time, and were in order to exhort the brothers and sisters in the Lord, so that they could receive the grace of the Lord Jesus. His epistles were in order to rouse the brothers and sisters of that time. It can be said that this was his own burden, and was also the burden given to him by the Holy Spirit; after all, he was an apostle who led the churches of the time, who wrote epistles for the churches and exhorted them—that was his responsibility. His identity was merely that of a working apostle, and he was merely an apostle who was sent by God; he was not a prophet, nor a foreteller. So to him, his own work and the lives of the brothers and sisters were of the utmost importance. Thus, he could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit. His words were not the words of the Holy Spirit, much less could they be said to be the words of God, for Paul was nothing more than a creature of God, and was certainly not the incarnation of God. His identity was not the same as that of Jesus. The words of Jesus were the words of the Holy Spirit, they were the words of God, for His identity was that of Christ—the Son of God. How could Paul be His equal? If people see the epistles or words like Paul’s as the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and worship them as God, then it can only be said that they are too indiscriminating. To speak more harshly, isn’t this nothing but blasphemy? How could a man talk on behalf of God? And how could people bow down before the records of his epistles and of the words he spoke as if they were a “holy book,” or a “heavenly book”? Could the words of God be casually uttered by a man? How could a man talk on behalf of God? And so, what say you—could the epistles that he wrote for the churches not be tainted with his own ideas? How could they not be tainted with human ideas? He wrote epistles for the churches based on his personal experiences and the extent of his own life. For instance, Paul wrote an epistle to the Galatian churches which contained a certain opinion, and Peter wrote another, which had another view. Which of them came from the Holy Spirit? No one can say for sure. Thus, it can only be said that they both bore a burden for the churches, yet their letters represent their stature, they represent their provision and support for the brothers and sisters, and their burden toward the churches, and they only represent human work; they were not entirely of the Holy Spirit. If you say that his epistles are the words of the Holy Spirit, then you are absurd, and you are committing blasphemy! The Pauline epistles and the other epistles of the New Testament are equivalent to the memoirs of the more recent spiritual figures. They are on a par with the books of Watchman Nee or the experiences of Lawrence, and so on. It’s simply that the books of recent spiritual figures are not compiled into the New Testament, yet the substance of these people is the same: They were people who were used by the Holy Spirit during a certain period, and they could not directly represent God.
12. The Gospel of Matthew of the New Testament documents Jesus’ genealogy. At the start, it says that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, the son of David, and the son of Joseph; next it says that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin—which would mean He was not the son of Joseph or the descendant of Abraham, that He was not the son of David. The genealogy, though, insists on associating Jesus with Joseph. Next, the genealogy begins to record the process by which Jesus was born. It says Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that He was born of a virgin, and not the son of Joseph. Yet in the genealogy it is clearly written that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and because the genealogy is written for Jesus, it records forty-two generations. When it goes to the generation of Joseph, it hurriedly says that Joseph was the husband of Mary, words which are in order to prove that Jesus was the descendant of Abraham. Is this not a contradiction? The genealogy clearly documents Joseph’s ancestry, it is obviously the genealogy of Joseph, but Matthew insists that it is the genealogy of Jesus. Does this not deny the fact of Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit? Thus, is the genealogy by Matthew not a human idea? It is ridiculous! In this way, you know that this book did not come entirely from the Holy Spirit. There are, perhaps, some people who think that God must have a genealogy on earth, as a result of which they assign Jesus as the forty-second generation of Abraham. That is really ridiculous! After arriving on earth, how could God have a genealogy? If you say that God has a genealogy, do you not rank Him among the creatures of God? For God is not of the earth, He is the Lord of creation, and although He is of flesh, He is not of the same essence as man. How could you rank God as of the same kind as a creature of God? Abraham cannot represent God; he was the object of Jehovah’s work at the time, he was merely a faithful servant approved of by Jehovah, and he was one of the people of Israel. How could he be an ancestor of Jesus?
13. The books of gospel of the New Testament were recorded twenty to thirty years after Jesus was crucified. Before, the people of Israel only read the Old Testament. That is to say, in the Age of Grace people read the Old Testament. The New Testament only appeared during the Age of Grace. The New Testament didn’t exist when Jesus worked; the people after He was resurrected and ascended to heaven recorded His work. Only then were there the Four Gospels, in addition to which were also the epistles of Paul and Peter, as well as the Book of Revelation. Only over three hundred years after Jesus ascended to heaven, when subsequent generations collated their records, was there the New Testament. Only after this work had been completed was there the New Testament; it had not existed previously. God had done all that work, the apostle Paul had done all that work, and afterward the epistles of Paul and Peter combined, and the greatest vision recorded by John in the island of Patmos was put the last, for it prophesied the work of the last days. These were all the arrangements of later generations, and they are different to the utterances of today. What is recorded today is according to the steps of God’s work; what people engage with today is the work personally done by God, and the words personally uttered by Him. You don’t need to interfere—the words, which come directly from the Spirit, have been arranged step by step, and are different from the arrangement of man’s records. What they recorded, it can be said, was according to their level of education and caliber. What they recorded was the experiences of men, and each had their own means of recording and knowing, and each record was different. Thus, if you worship the Bible as God you are extremely ignorant and stupid! Why do you not seek the work of the God of today? Only the work of God can save man. The Bible cannot save man, it has not changed at all for several thousands of years, and if you worship the Bible you will never gain the work of the Holy Spirit.
14. Many people believe that understanding and being able to interpret the Bible is the same as finding the true way—but in fact, are things really so simple? No one knows the reality of the Bible: that it is nothing more than a historical record of God’s work, and a testament to the previous two stages of God’s work, and offers you no understanding of the aims of God’s work. Everyone who has read the Bible knows that it documents the two stages of God’s work during the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. The Old Testament chronicles the history of Israel and Jehovah’s work from the time of creation until the end of the Age of Law. The New Testament records Jesus’ work on earth, which is in the Four Gospels, as well as the work of Paul; are they not historical records? Bringing up the things of the past today makes them history, and no matter how true or real they might be, they are still history—and history cannot address the present. For God does not look back on history! And so, if you only understand the Bible, and understand nothing of the work God intends to do today, and if you believe in God but do not seek the work of the Holy Spirit, then you do not understand what it means to seek God. If you read the Bible in order to study the history of Israel, to research the history of God’s creation of all the heavens and earth, then you do not believe in God. But today, since you believe in God, and pursue life, since you pursue the knowledge of God, and do not pursue dead letters and doctrines, or an understanding of history, you must seek God’s will of today, and must look for the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work. If you were an archeologist you could read the Bible—but you are not, you are one of those who believe in God, and you’d best seek God’s will of today.
15. The Bible is a historical record of God’s work in Israel, and documents many of the foretellings of ancient prophets as well as some of the utterances of Jehovah in His work at that time. Thus, people all look upon this book as “holy” (for God is holy and great). Of course, this is all a result of their reverence for Jehovah and their adoration for God. People refer to this book in this way only because the creatures of God are so adoring of their Creator, and there are even those who call this book a “heavenly book.” In fact, it is merely a human record. It was not personally named by Jehovah, nor did Jehovah personally guide its creation. In other words, the author of this book is not God, but men. The “Holy” Bible is only the respectful title given to it by man. This title was not decided by Jehovah and Jesus after they had a discussion amongst each other; it is nothing more than a human idea. For this book was not written by Jehovah, much less by Jesus. Instead, it is the accounts of many ancient prophets, apostles, and seers, which were compiled by later generations into a book of ancient writings that, to people, seems especially holy, a book that they believe contains many unfathomable and profound mysteries that are waiting to be unlocked by future generations. As such, people are even more disposed to believe that this book is a “heavenly book.” With the addition of the Four Gospels and the Book of Revelation, people’s attitude toward it is particularly different from any other book, and thus no one dares to dissect this “heavenly book”—because it is too “sacred.”
16. Today, I am dissecting the Bible in this way and it does not mean that I hate it, or deny its value for reference. I am explaining the inherent value and origins of the Bible to you to stop you being kept in the dark. For people have so many views about the Bible, and most of them are wrong; reading the Bible in this way not only prevents them from gaining what they ought to, but, more important, it hinders the work I intend to do. It is a tremendous nuisance for the work of the future, and offers only drawbacks, not advantages. Thus, what I am teaching you is simply the substance and inside story of the Bible. I’m not asking that you don’t read the Bible, or that you go around proclaiming that it is totally devoid of value, but that you have the correct knowledge and view of the Bible. Don’t be too one-sided! Although the Bible is a history book that was written by men, it also documents many of the principles by which the ancient saints and prophets served God, as well as the recent apostles’ experiences in serving God—all of which were really seen and known by these people, and can serve as reference for the people of this age in pursuing the true way. Thus, in reading the Bible people can also gain many ways of life that cannot be found in other books. These ways are the ways of life of the work of the Holy Spirit experienced by prophets and apostles in ages past, and many of the words are precious, and can provide what people need. Thus, people all like to read the Bible. Because there is so much hidden in the Bible, people’s views toward it are unlike those toward the writings of great spiritual figures. The Bible is a record and collection of the experiences and knowledge of people who served Jehovah and Jesus in the old and new age, and so later generations have been able to gain much enlightenment, illumination, and paths to practice from it. The reason why the Bible is higher than the writings of any great spiritual figure is because all of their writings are drawn from the Bible, their experiences all come from the Bible, and they all explain the Bible. And so, although people can gain provision from the books of any great spiritual figure, they still worship the Bible, for it seems so high and profound to them! Although the Bible brings together some of the books of the words of life, such as the Pauline epistles and Petrine epistles, and although people can be provided for and assisted by these books, these books are still out of date, they still belong to the old age, and no matter how good they are, they are only suitable for one period, and are not everlasting. For God’s work is always developing, and it can’t simply stop at the time of Paul and Peter, or always remain in the Age of Grace in which Jesus was crucified. And so, these books are only suitable for the Age of Grace, not for the Age of Kingdom of the last days. They can only provide for the believers of the Age of Grace, not for the saints of the Age of Kingdom, and no matter how good they are, they are still obsolete. It is the same with Jehovah’s work of creation or His work in Israel: No matter how great this work was, it was still outdated, and the time would still come when it passed. God’s work is also the same: It is great, but there will come a time when it ends; it cannot always remain amidst the work of the creation, nor among that of the crucifixion. No matter how convincing the work of the crucifixion, no matter how effective it was in defeating Satan, work is, after all, still work, and the ages are, after all, still ages; work cannot always stay on the same foundation, nor can times never change, because there was the creation and there must be the last days. This is inevitable! Thus, today the words of life in the New Testament—the epistles of the apostles, and the Four Gospels—have become historical books, they have become old almanacs, and how could the old almanacs take people into the new age? No matter how capable these almanacs are of providing people with life, no matter how able they are to lead people to the cross, are they not outdated? Are they not bereft of value? Thus, I say you should not blindly believe in these almanacs. They are too old, they cannot bring you into the new work, and they can only burden you. Not only can they not bring you into the new work, and into the new entry, but they take you into the old religious churches—and if so, are you not regressing in your belief in God?
17. To understand the Bible, to understand history, but not to understand what the Holy Spirit is doing today—that’s wrong! You’ve done very well in studying history, you’ve done a terrific job, but you understand nothing of the work the Holy Spirit does today. Is this not foolishness? Other people ask you: “What is God doing today? What should you enter into today? How is your pursuit of life going? Do you understand God’s will?” You’ll have no answer for what they ask—so what do you know? You will say: I’m only aware that I must turn my back on the flesh and know myself. And if they then ask “What else are you aware of?” you will say you also know to obey all of God’s arrangements, and understand a little of the history of the Bible, and that’s all. Is that all you’ve gained from believing in God all these years? If that’s all you understand, then you lack so much.