Concerning the Bible (1) (Part One)
How should the Bible be approached in the belief in God? This is a question of principle. Why are we communing this question? Because in the future you will spread the gospel and widen the work of the Age of Kingdom, and it is not enough to merely be able to talk of God’s work today. To broaden His work, it is more important that you are able to resolve people’s old religious notions and old means of belief and leave them utterly convinced—and getting to that point involves the Bible. For many years, people’s traditional means of belief (that of Christianity, one of the world’s three major religions) has been to read the Bible; departure from the Bible is not a belief in the Lord, departure from the Bible is heterodoxy and heresy, and even when people read other books, the foundation of these books must be the explanation of the Bible. Which is to say, if you believe in the Lord, then you must read the Bible, and outside the Bible you must not worship any book that does not involve the Bible. If you do, then you are betraying God. From the time when there was the Bible, people’s belief in the Lord has been the belief in the Bible. Instead of saying people believe in the Lord, it is better to say they believe in the Bible; rather than saying they have begun reading the Bible, it is better to say they have begun believing in the Bible; and rather than saying they have returned before the Lord, it would be better to say they have returned before the Bible. In this way, people worship the Bible as if it were God, as if it were their lifeblood, and losing it would be the same as losing their life. People see the Bible as being as high as God, and there are even those who see it as higher than God. If people are without the work of the Holy Spirit, if they cannot feel God, they can carry on living—but as soon as they lose the Bible, or lose the famous chapters and sayings from the Bible, then it is as if they have lost their life. And so, as soon as people believe in the Lord they begin reading the Bible, and memorizing the Bible, and the more of the Bible they are able to memorize, the more this proves that they love the Lord and are of great faith. Those who have read the Bible and can speak of it to others are all good brothers and sisters. For all these years, people’s faith and loyalty to the Lord has been measured according to the extent of their understanding of the Bible. Most people simply do not understand why they should believe in God, nor how to believe in God, and do nothing but search blindly for clues to decipher the chapters of the Bible. People have never pursued the direction of the work of the Holy Spirit; all along, they have done nothing but desperately study and investigate the Bible, and no one has ever found newer work of the Holy Spirit outside of the Bible. No one has ever departed from the Bible, nor have they ever dared to do so. People have studied the Bible for all these years, they have come up with so many explanations, and put in so much work; they also have many differences of opinion about the Bible, which they debate endlessly, such that over two thousand different denominations have been formed today. They all want to find some special explanations, or more profound mysteries in the Bible, they want to explore it, and to find in it the background to Jehovah’s work in Israel, or the background to Jesus’ work in Judea, or more mysteries that no one else knows. People’s approach to the Bible is one of obsession and faith, and no one can be entirely clear about the inside story or substance of the Bible. So, today people still have an indescribable sense of wonder when it comes to the Bible, and they are even more obsessed with it, and have even more faith in it. Today, everyone wants to find the prophecies of the work of the last days in the Bible, they want to discover what work God does during the last days, and what signs there are for the last days. In this way, their worship of the Bible becomes more fervent, and the closer it gets to the last days, the more blind credence they give to the prophecies of the Bible, particularly those about the last days. With such blind faith in the Bible, with such trust in the Bible, they have no desire to seek the work of the Holy Spirit. In people’s notions, they think that only the Bible can bring the work of the Holy Spirit; only in the Bible can they find the footsteps of God; only in the Bible are hidden the mysteries of God’s work; only the Bible—not other books or people—can clarify God’s everything and the entirety of His work; the Bible can bring the work of heaven to earth; and the Bible can both begin and conclude the ages. With these notions, people have no inclination to search for the work of the Holy Spirit. So, regardless of how much of a help the Bible was to people in the past, it has become an obstacle to God’s latest work. Without the Bible, people can search for the footsteps of God elsewhere, yet today, His footsteps have been contained by the Bible, and extending His latest work has become doubly difficult, and an uphill struggle. This is all because of the famous chapters and sayings from the Bible, as well as the various prophecies of the Bible. The Bible has become an idol in people’s minds, it has become a puzzle in their brains, and they are simply incapable of believing that God can work outside of the Bible, they are incapable of believing that people can find God outside of the Bible, much less are they able to believe that God could depart from the Bible during the final work and start anew. This is unthinkable to people; they cannot believe it, and neither can they imagine it. The Bible has become a great obstacle to people’s acceptance of God’s new work, and a difficulty to God’s broadening this new work. Thus, if you do not understand the inside story of the Bible, you will be unable to successfully spread the gospel, nor will you be able to bear testimony to the new work. Although, today, you do not read the Bible, you are still extremely amiable toward it, which is to say, the Bible might not be in your hands, but many of your notions come from it. You do not understand the origins of the Bible or the inside story about the previous two stages of God’s work. Although you do not often read the Bible, you must understand the Bible, you must achieve the correct knowledge of the Bible, and only in this way will you be able to know what God’s six-thousand-year management plan is all about. You will use these things to win people over, to make them acknowledge that this stream is the true way, to make them acknowledge that the path you walk today is the path of truth, that it is guided by the Holy Spirit, and that it has not been launched by any human.
After God did the work of the Age of Law, the Old Testament was produced, and it was then that people began to read the Bible. After Jesus came, He did the work of the Age of Grace, and His apostles wrote the New Testament. Thus were the Old and New Testaments of the Bible produced, and even unto today, all those who believe in God have been reading the Bible. The Bible is a book of history. Of course, it also contains some of the foretelling of prophets, and such foretelling is by no means history. The Bible includes several parts—there is not just prophecy, or only the work of Jehovah, nor are there only the Pauline epistles. You must know how many parts the Bible includes; the Old Testament contains Genesis, Exodus…, and there are also the books of prophecy that the prophets wrote. At the end, the Old Testament finishes with the Book of Malachi. It records the work of the Age of Law, which was led by Jehovah; from Genesis to the Book of Malachi, it is a comprehensive record of all the work of the Age of Law. Which is to say, the Old Testament records all that was experienced by the people who were guided by Jehovah in the Age of Law. During the Old Testament Age of Law, the great number of prophets raised up by Jehovah spoke prophecy for Him, they gave instructions to various tribes and nations, and foretold the work that Jehovah would do. These people who had been raised up had all been given the Spirit of prophecy by Jehovah: They were able to see the visions from Jehovah, and hear His voice, and thus they were inspired by Him and wrote prophecy. The work they did was the expression of the voice of Jehovah, the expression of the prophecy of Jehovah, and Jehovah’s work at the time was simply to guide people using the Spirit; He did not become flesh, and people saw nothing of His face. Thus, He raised up many prophets to do His work, and gave them oracles that they passed on to every tribe and clan of Israel. Their work was to speak prophecy, and some of them wrote down Jehovah’s instructions to them to show to others. Jehovah raised these people up to speak prophecy, to foretell the work of the future or the work still to be done during that time, so that people could behold the wondrousness and wisdom of Jehovah. These books of prophecy were quite different from the other books of the Bible; they were words spoken or written by those who had been given the Spirit of prophecy—by those who had gained the visions or voice from Jehovah. Apart from the books of prophecy, everything else in the Old Testament is made up of records made by people after Jehovah had finished His work. These books cannot stand in for the foretelling spoken by the prophets raised up by Jehovah, just as Genesis and Exodus cannot be compared to the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Daniel. The prophecies were spoken before the work had been carried out; the other books, meanwhile, were written after the work had been finished, which was what people were capable of. The prophets of that time were inspired by Jehovah and spoke some prophecy, they spoke many words, and they prophesied the things of the Age of Grace, as well as the destruction of the world in the last days—the work that Jehovah planned to do. The remaining books all record the work done by Jehovah in Israel. Thus, when you read the Bible, you are mainly reading about what Jehovah did in Israel; the Bible’s Old Testament primarily records Jehovah’s work of guiding Israel, His use of Moses to guide the Israelites out of Egypt, who rid them of the Pharaoh’s shackles, and took them out into the wilderness, after which they entered Canaan and everything following this was their life in Canaan. All apart from this is made up of records of Jehovah’s work throughout Israel. Everything recorded in the Old Testament is Jehovah’s work in Israel, it is the work Jehovah did in the land in which He made Adam and Eve. From when God officially began to lead the people on earth after Noah, all that is recorded in the Old Testament is the work of Israel. And why is there not recorded any work beyond Israel? Because the land of Israel is the cradle of mankind. In the beginning, there were no other countries apart from Israel, and Jehovah did not work in any other place. In this way, what is recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible is purely God’s work in Israel at that time. The words spoken by the prophets, by Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel … their words foretell His other work on earth, they foretell the work of Jehovah God Himself. All this came from God, it was the work of the Holy Spirit, and apart from these books of the prophets, everything else is a record of people’s experiences of Jehovah’s work at the time.
The work of creation happened before there was mankind, but the Book of Genesis only came after there was mankind; it was a book written by Moses during the Age of Law. It is like the things that happen among you today: After they happen, you write them down to show to people in the future, and for the people of the future, what you have recorded are things that happened in times past—they are nothing more than history. The things recorded in the Old Testament are Jehovah’s work in Israel, and that which is recorded in the New Testament is the work of Jesus during the Age of Grace; they document the work done by God in two different ages. The Old Testament documents the work of God during the Age of Law, and thus the Old Testament is a historical book, while the New Testament is the product of the work of the Age of Grace. When the new work began, the New Testament also became out of date—and thus, the New Testament is also a historical book. Of course, the New Testament is not as systematic as the Old Testament, nor does it record as many things. All of the many words spoken by Jehovah are recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible, whereas only some of the words of Jesus are recorded in the Four Gospels. Of course, Jesus also did a lot of work, but it was not recorded in detail. There is less recorded in the New Testament because of how much work Jesus did; the amount of work He did during three-and-a-half years on earth and the work of the apostles was far less than the work of Jehovah. And thus, there are fewer books in the New Testament than the Old Testament.