Daily Devotional Reading: Discerning the Words of God From the Words of Man
Brothers and sisters, may you have peace in the Lord! Thanks to God’s grace we’re able to come together once again.
Recently there have been quite a few brothers and sisters who have read Almighty God’s words while investigating His work of the last days, and they all feel that these words are authoritative and powerful, and that they fully lay bare the corruption that lies deepest in our hearts. They also feel that they can resolve our practical difficulties and confusions as well as provide us with the sustenance we need in our lives, plus allow us to understand so many truths we did not understand before. After a period of seeking and investigation, quite a few people have verified within their hearts that Almighty God’s words are the voice of God Himself, and that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. However, there are some other brothers and sisters who believe that the words of the great spiritual figures within the religious world also contain the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, that they provide people with some edification and are in line with the truth. So, they don’t dare confirm whether Almighty God’s words really are the words of God or not. The fact that we have these kinds of quandaries means that we don’t recognize the words of God, that we can’t clearly distinguish the essential differences between God’s words and the words of spiritual people. If we can’t distinguish between spiritual people’s words and God’s words, we’ll be more susceptible to following and adulating a person as well as treating the words of God as if they were the words of a human being, and then that will make us more likely to lose God’s salvation. Clearly, understanding this is critical for each and every one of us. Today’s fellowship is on “how to discern God’s words and man’s words”—may God enlighten and guide our fellowship.
We all know that God has uttered many words since beginning His work to save mankind, and regardless of whether they were conveyed by prophets or spoken directly by God Himself, they are all God’s words. They are all the truth, the way, and the life, and they are all expressions of God’s disposition as well as what He has and is. These words can be people’s lives. But the words of spiritual people or people used by God are just their understanding of God’s own words; some of them are epistles that come from the burden they bear for the churches, and some of them are what they’ve personally undergone or understood from experiencing God’s words. All of these words are not the truth, and even if they are in line with the truth, even if they are correct and provide edification and benefit for their fellow man, they are essentially different from the words of God and cannot be spoken of in the same breath. Just as Almighty God says, “The word of God cannot be made out to be the word of man, and still less can one make the word of man to be the word of God. A man used by God is not the incarnate God, and the incarnate God is not a man used by God. In this, there is an essential difference. … How can the words of God be the same as the enlightenment that man has gained? The words of God incarnate open up a new age, guide all of mankind, reveal mysteries, and show man the direction he is to take in the new age. The enlightenment obtained by man is but simple instructions for practice or knowledge. It cannot guide all of mankind into a new age or reveal the mysteries of God Himself. When all is said and done, God is God, and man is man. God has the essence of God, and man has the essence of man. If man views the words spoken by God as simple enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, and takes the words of the apostles and prophets as words personally spoken by God, that would be man’s mistake” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).
So what are the essential differences between the words of God and the words of man? Let’s explore this in fellowship together.
- 1. God’s words can commence or end an age, but man’s words can just go into their personal experience and understanding on the foundation of God’s work and words—they cannot exceed the scope of God’s work and words.
- 2. God’s words can reveal God’s own mysteries, but man’s words cannot reveal any mysteries.
- 3. God’s words can expose mankind’s corrupt nature, their corrupt dispositions, thoughts and ideas, and rebellious behaviors while human beings cannot reveal mankind’s corrupt essence.
1. God’s words can commence or end an age, but man’s words can just go into their personal experience and understanding on the foundation of God’s work and words—they cannot exceed the scope of God’s work and words.
All of us know that God is the Creator, that He is the truth, the way, and the life, and that He rules over all things. Only God’s words can start a new age or bring an old age to a close. Jehovah God opened up the Age of Law, and promulgated the laws and commandments through Moses to guide people’s lives on earth. He also told mankind how they should fear Jehovah, how to serve God, how to offer sacrifices; He told people how they should interact with each other, and what ethics and common sense they should have. Jehovah God’s words in the Age of Law pointed out clear principles and a clear direction for mankind, allowing people to conduct proper, orderly lives on earth. No person could issue such laws and commandments, only God. When the Age of Grace came, God Himself incarnated and became the Lord Jesus, and did the step of work to redeem mankind on the foundation of the work of the Age of Law. The Lord Jesus expressed the way of repentance and instructed people on how to confess and repent; He pointed the people of the Age of Grace onto the path they needed to enter into. For example, the Lord required that we take up our own cross and follow the Lord, and also to love Him with our whole heart and mind, to be humble, tolerant, and forgiving in our interactions with others, and to love others as ourselves. These words uttered by the Lord Jesus were things never said by God in the Age of Law; they were newer, more elevated words and were things that no man could say. Now Almighty God has come in the last days and uttered millions of words—He has done a step of the work of judging and cleansing mankind with His words on the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. Almighty God’s words expose and judge our corrupt essences and rebellious dispositions, giving us true understanding of our own corrupt dispositions as well as the facts and truth of our corruption by Satan. Almighty God’s words also point out for us the path of practice and entry in the Age of Kingdom and the path to change our corrupt disposition. This includes how to establish a proper relationship with God, how to quiet our heart before God, how to submit to Him, how to pursue knowledge of God, how to serve in line with His will, how to seek to become an overcomer, what a change in disposition is and how to achieve a change in disposition. Not only that, but Almighty God has also issued commandments and administrative decrees in the Age of Kingdom, allowing us to have a genuine understanding of God’s righteous and holy disposition. The words uttered by Almighty God have ended the Age of Grace and launched the Age of Kingdom, and they are words never before uttered by God. Even more so, they are words that no corrupt human being could utter. Brothers and sisters, we can see from the words of Jehovah God, the Lord Jesus, and Almighty God that God’s words are words that begin and end ages—they are words that provide us with a new path of practice.
But the words of man are different—they can neither end an old age nor begin a new one. They can just be discussions of personal views and understandings within the scope of God’s work and words so that God’s followers may better understand His words and tailor their practice accordingly. Just as David said in Psalm 34:11, “Come, you children, listen to me: I will teach you the fear of Jehovah.” We can see from this that in the Age of Law, people’s words were just upholding God’s work for the Age of Law, allowing others to achieve fear of Jehovah God and follow His way. Their words did not exceed the scope of Jehovah God’s work and words. In the Age of Grace, there were apostles and disciples such as Peter, Matthew, Mark, and Paul, as well as some more recent spiritual personages. They all wrote letters and gave sermons to exhort people within the scope of the Lord Jesus’ work and words, using their own experiences and understandings to support their brothers and sisters, teaching people how to put the Lord Jesus’ words into practice, thus bearing witness to the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption and spreading His salvation. Clearly, regardless of whether they were people from the Old Testament who were used by God, or the Lord Jesus’ apostles or disciples from the New Testament, or spiritual personages from recent times, they were all just cooperating with and upholding God’s work of that particular age. They could not exceed the scope of God’s work and words of the time. Just as Almighty God says, “What man expresses is his experience, while what God expresses is His being, which is His inherent disposition, beyond the reach of man. Man’s experience is his insight and knowledge acquired on the basis of God’s expression of His being. Such insight and knowledge are called man’s being, and the basis of their expression is man’s inherent disposition and caliber—this is why they are also called man’s being” (“God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “The work they do is only to prepare an appropriate path for God Himself or to continue a certain aspect of the management of God Himself on earth. In themselves, these people are unable to do the greater work of His management, nor can they open up new ways out, even less can any of them bring to a conclusion all of God’s work from the former age. Therefore, the work they do represents only a created being performing his function and cannot represent God Himself performing His ministry” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Brothers and sisters, the fellowship above clearly shows us that the words of God can open up a new age and draw an old age to a close; they can also provide people with a newer, more elevated path of practice. On the contrary, the words of man cannot start a new age, but can just be fellowship on their own viewpoints and understandings on the foundation of God’s utterances; this way they can minister to their brothers and sisters, but no matter how lofty, how profound their experiences and understandings are, they cannot step outside the bounds of God’s work and words. This is one very clear, substantive difference between the words of God and the words of man.
2. God’s words can reveal God’s own mysteries, but man’s words cannot reveal any mysteries.
All sorts of mysteries such as the inside story of God’s work, His six-thousand-year management plan, what work He’s going to do in the future, and how to get into the kingdom of heaven are things that only God Himself knows, and only God Himself can reveal them. We humans are just miniscule creatures, mere mortals who cannot possibly see into the matters of the spiritual realm, and we are even less able to reveal the mysteries of God. If God Himself didn’t reveal His mysteries, we human beings would never be able to fathom them. Just as it says in Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to Jehovah our God: but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever.” This tells us that only God knows the secret things, not people, and that human beings can only understand their connotations after they have been revealed by God. Just like in the Old Testament’s Book of Malachi that clearly prophesied that Elijah would come before the Lord, but when Elijah did come no one recognized him. This mystery wasn’t revealed until after the Lord Jesus came, and only then did people know that John the Baptist was the Elijah who had been foretold. In addition, the Lord Jesus revealed mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, such as “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), and “Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). It has only been from the mysteries revealed by the Lord Jesus that we’ve come to understand that only those who truly repent and become those who do God’s will can enter into the kingdom of heaven. If the Lord Jesus hadn’t revealed the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom, there’s no way we could understand God’s will and requirements, and it would be very difficult for us to put His will into practice.
Almighty God has come in the last days, and not only has He fulfilled all the prophecies uttered by the Lord Jesus, but He has also opened up to mankind all important mysteries related to God’s management plan. Just as Almighty God says, “It is only during the last days that the work I have been managing for thousands of years is entirely revealed to man. It is only now that I have disclosed the full mystery of My management to man, and man has learned the purpose of My work and, moreover, has come to understand all My mysteries. I have already told man everything of the destination about which he is concerned. I have already uncovered for man all of My mysteries, mysteries that were hidden for over 5,900 years” (“The Work of Spreading the Gospel Is Also the Work of Saving Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “This stage of work will elucidate for you the law of Jehovah and the redemption of Jesus, and is principally so that you may understand the entire work of God’s six-thousand-year management plan, and appreciate all the significance and substance of this six-thousand-year management plan, and understand the purpose of all the work done by Jesus and the words He spoke, and even your blind credence in and adoration of the Bible. All this it will allow you to understand thoroughly. You will come to understand both the work done by Jesus, and the work of God today; you will understand and behold all of the truth, the life, and the way. … In the end, this current stage will bring God’s work to a complete end, and will provide its conclusion. All will come to understand and know of God’s management plan. The notions within man, his intentions, his erroneous understanding, his notions about the work of Jehovah and Jesus, his views about the Gentiles, and his other deviations and errors will be corrected. And man will understand all the right paths of life, and all the work done by God, and the entire truth. When that happens, this stage of work will come to an end” (“The Vision of God’s Work (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Almighty God’s words have unveiled the mysteries of God’s six-thousand-year management plan, His aims for managing mankind, the significance of taking on different names in different ages, as well as the mysteries of the incarnation. His words have also revealed how all of humanity has developed up to the present day, how Satan corrupts human beings, how God works to save mankind, and how God does the work of judgment in the last days to transform and purify people. They also tell us how God ends ages, how Christ’s kingdom will be realized, as well as mankind’s future destination and outcome. Not only this, but even questions that have been unanswerable to humans throughout the ages have been answered within Almighty God’s words, such as what “being caught up,” “first ripe fruits,” “144,000 victorious male children,” “the tree of life,” “the water of the river of life,” “judgment before the great white throne,” “the lake of fire and brimstone,” and “hades and hell” all mean. For generations, not a single person has been able to reveal these mysteries, but Almighty God, Christ of the last days has opened up all of them. It was only after Almighty God revealed these things that we gained true understanding and recognition of God’s work, His will and requirements of mankind, His disposition and essence, as well as what He has and is.
Brothers and sisters, at this point in our fellowship we can understand that God’s words are able to reveal God’s own mysteries, that they can open up the mysteries that are hidden, while human beings could never reveal the mysteries of God. This is another substantive difference between the words of man and the words of God.
3. God’s words can expose mankind’s corrupt nature, their corrupt dispositions, thoughts and ideas, and rebellious behaviors while human beings cannot reveal mankind’s corrupt essence.
God is the Creator and He can see into the depths of the human heart; He has a grasp on our nature and essence as corrupt human beings. This is why only God can reveal the sin that people would never discover. But we are just created beings and we absolutely cannot see into our own essence, nor do we have the ability to reveal our own corrupt nature. All we can do is talk about our understandings of our satanic, corrupt dispositions after God has revealed our corruption, and even so, our own understanding can never reach the level of what God reveals. Just as the Lord Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. … You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:21–22, 27–28). This shows us that before the Lord Jesus revealed mankind’s corruption, we all thought things like this: “Even though I thought about it, I didn’t actually commit murder or adultery, so that’s not really a sin.” It was only through what the Lord Jesus’ words revealed that we realized that getting angry at our brothers and sisters is a sin, and that committing adultery in our hearts is committing the sin of adultery. We can see from this that the Lord Jesus’ words revealed corruption of ours that we had never before recognized, and what they showed of our corruption went beyond what was shown through the laws and the commandments. If it hadn’t been for the Lord Jesus’ revelations, we never would have understood our own corruption. In addition, the Lord Jesus rebuked the scribes and the Pharisees by saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27–28). We all know that the scribes and the Pharisees were well versed in the Scripture and were always serving Jehovah God in the temple as well as frequently preaching to believers. They were really respected and supported by those of the Jewish faith, who could not at all see their rebellious behaviors—they had no discernment regarding the scribes and Pharisees. But the Lord Jesus exposed their hypocritical essence, hitting the nail on the head. Only then did believers see that the way the Pharisees suffered and expended themselves was just to be looked up to and adored by others; it was not genuinely expending themselves for God, but they were working hard for the sake of their own status and their own living. They were not true believers. This makes it evident that God’s words can lay bare mankind’s essence and expose the corruption hidden deep inside human hearts.
Now let’s take a look together at a passage from the word of Almighty God revealing people’s lack of true devotion to God. Almighty God says, “Anyone with a memory will acknowledge this fact: Man lives for himself and is loyal to himself. I do not believe your answers to be entirely correct, for you each exist in your respective lives and each are struggling with your own suffering. As such, you are loyal to the people you love and the things that please you; you are not entirely loyal to yourselves. Because you are each influenced by the people, occurrences, and objects around you, you are not truly loyal to yourselves. I speak these words not to endorse being loyal to yourselves, but to expose your loyalty to any one thing, for over the course of so many years, I have never received loyalty from any of you. You have followed Me all these years, yet have never given Me one iota of loyalty. Instead, you have revolved around the people you love and the things that please you—so much so that at all times, and wherever you go, you keep them close to your hearts and have never abandoned them. … Though you may sacrifice a thing or two for Me, it does not represent your all, and does not show that it is Me to whom you are truly loyal. You involve yourselves in undertakings about which you are passionate: Some people are loyal to sons and daughters, others to husbands, wives, riches, work, superiors, status, or women. You never feel weary or annoyed toward the things you are loyal to; instead, you grow ever more eager to possess these things in greater quantity, and higher quality, and you never give up. I and My words are always pushed back behind the things you are passionate about. And you have no choice but to rank them last. There are even those who leave this last place for things they are loyal to that they have yet to discover. Never has there been the slightest trace of Me in their hearts. You may think that I ask too much of you or am wrongfully accusing you—but have you ever given any thought to the fact that while you are happily spending time with your family, you have never once been loyal to Me? At times like this, does it not pain you? When your hearts are filled with joy, and you are rewarded for your labors, do you not feel disheartened at not having furnished yourselves with sufficient truth? When have you wept for not having received My approval? You rack your brains and take great pains for the sake of your sons and daughters, yet still you are not satisfied; still you believe that you have not been diligent on their behalf, that you have not done everything you can for them. Toward Me, however, you have always been remiss and careless; I am only in your memories, but I do not endure in your hearts” (“To Whom Are You Loyal?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Almighty God’s words very incisively expose the innate corruption of mankind and leave us utterly convinced. Through Almighty God’s words combined with reflection on our own behavior, we can see how deeply corrupted by Satan we are, and that we resist God and rebel against Him by nature. We don’t remotely love the truth. Even though we work and expend ourselves for God in the outside after becoming believers, we are only truly devoted to the people, matters, and things that we love, and we seek nothing but our own future, destination, and hopes. We’re trying to use our work and personal expenditures to conduct transactions with God, to get something from Him. It’s not true devotion or love for God; it’s not truly to satisfy Him. Just think—if God hadn’t made these revelations, who among us would know our nature of being rebellious against God? Aside from God, who could understand mankind’s essence, and which person could so thoroughly expose mankind’s rebellious disposition? It’s evident from this that only God can expose mankind’s corruption, and without the revelations of God, we would never understand our corrupt essence as human beings. This is the third essential difference to discern between the words of God and the words of man.
Brothers and sisters, this fellowship has shown us that there are great essential differences between the words of God and the words of man. God’s words can open up a new age and end an old age; they can reveal the mysteries of God Himself, and can expose mankind’s corrupt essence. But the words of people are nothing like this—people’s words cannot begin a new age, reveal the mysteries of God, or expose mankind’s corrupt essence. All that human words can do is discuss personal experiences and understandings based on how they undergo God’s work and words—they cannot exceed the scope of God’s work and words. Once we grasp the three essential differences between God’s words and man’s words, we’ll be able to discern what words are spoken by God and what words are spoken by man. I trust that from this fellowship above, all who have a heart and a spirit will be able to see that Almighty God’s words have come from the mouth of God Himself. As long as we read more of Almighty God’s words, we’ll be able to feel the authority and might within them, understand the mysteries of God’s six-thousand-year management plan, see God’s righteous, inviolable disposition, and recognize the truth of our own corruption by Satan. This way, the more we investigate Almighty God’s words, the more certain we’ll become that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. Thanks to God for His enlightenment and guidance! I hope this fellowship will be helpful for you, brothers and sisters.