Why Does God Need Three Stages of Work to Save Mankind?
We all know that 2,000 years ago, theappeared and worked in Judea to redeem mankind, and preached “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He expressed many truths and revealed many signs and wonders, rocking the nation of Judea. The upper leaders of Judaism saw how authoritative and powerful the Lord Jesus’ work and words were, and He was always gaining followers. These leaders felt like Jesus’ work threatened their status, so they started trying to find things to use against Him, fabricating rumors and lies, condemning Jesus, and keeping people from following Him. Jesus being the Son of man and not in spirit form made them even more impudent and unrestrained. His work and words going beyond the law was their excuse for madly condemning and chasing after Him, and getting Him nailed to the cross. That earned God’s damnation and punishment, dooming the nation of Israel for 2,000 years. Now Jesus has returned in the last days as incarnate, expressing truths and doing the work of judgment beginning with God’s house to fully cleanse and save mankind. Those who long for God’s appearance from all denominations have read Almighty , recognized God’s voice, and turned toward Almighty God. But many religious leaders can’t accept this. Their good sheep have left the flock and their status and living are in danger, which they cannot tolerate. They’re fabricating all sorts of lies to deny and condemn Almighty God’s appearance and work, doing everything they can to mislead believers and keep them from investigating the true way. They say that the Lord Jesus already redeemed mankind and God’s salvation work is complete, and He will rapture believers when He comes. There’s no more work of salvation. They even clamor: “If the Lord returns and doesn’t take us into the kingdom, then He’s not really the Lord! The Lord in the flesh doing the work of judgment can’t really be the Lord! It’s only the Lord, the Lord we believe in, if we’re raptured!” Especially when they see Almighty God isn’t in spirit form, but is a regular Son of man, they become even more recalcitrant and more severely condemn and blaspheme Him. They even join forces with the Communist Party to arrest believers sharing the gospel. With their actions, they’ve crucified God all over again. Think about it. Why is it that every step of God’s work is denied, condemned, and resisted by the religious world? It’s because humanity is so deeply corrupted by Satan. Everyone has a satanic nature; everyone hates the truth and is fed up with it. Another reason is that people don’t understand God’s work, so they see God’s work to save mankind as more simple than it really is. We know that the Israelites believed that once God’s work of the Age of Law was done, they just had to abide by the law and they’d be saved, and when the Messiah came, they’d be taken right up into the kingdom. And what happened? The Lord Jesus came and the Jewish people had Him crucified. Those from the Age of Grace thought that with Jesus’ redemption, their sins were forgiven and they were saved, once and for all, so they should be taken straight up into the kingdom when the Lord returns. And what happened? Almighty God has come and He’s being crucified again by the religious world allied with Satan’s regime. They think that when the Lord Jesus completed His work, God’s work of salvation is complete. But is that really true?
In fact, every new step of work that God does has been prophesied long in advance. When Jesus came for the work of redemption, the prophets had already foretold His coming. “A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). And for God’s judgment work in the last days, there are so many biblical prophecies, at least 200 of them. Look at what the Lord Jesus said: “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). “For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). And the Book of Peter: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Anyone interested in God’s work can find a basis for it very easily, then they won’t so aggressively, unswervingly insist on nailing God to the cross. This alone shows how deeply corrupted by Satan mankind is. All humans have a satanic nature, and it is fair to say that humans are enemies of God. We have all seen this fact: From the Age of Law to Jesus’ redemption in the Age of Grace, and now in the last days, with Almighty God doing judgment work in the flesh to conclude the work of these ages, it is clear that God’s work to save mankind comprises exactly three stages. So why is it necessary for His work of salvation to be carried out in three stages? It’s something humans can’t fathom, which has led many to resist and condemn God’s work. The consequences of this are grave. That’s why the issue we’re exploring today is the reason for God performing three steps of work.
In the last days, Almighty God’s work has revealed all the mysteries of His management plan. Let’s read a passage of Almighty God’s words so we can understand this better. Almighty God says, “The 6,000 years of work of God’s management are divided into three stages: the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom. These three stages of work are all for the sake of mankind’s salvation, which is to say, they are for the salvation of mankind that has been severely corrupted by Satan. At the same time, however, they are also so that God may do battle with Satan. Thus, just as the work of salvation is divided into three stages, so the battle with Satan is also divided into three stages, and these two aspects of God’s work are conducted simultaneously. The battle with Satan is actually for the sake of mankind’s salvation, and because the work of mankind’s salvation is not something that can be successfully completed in a single stage, the battle with Satan is also divided into phases and periods, and war is waged upon Satan in accordance with the needs of man and the extent of Satan’s corruption of him. … There are three stages to the work of man’s salvation, which is to say that the battle with Satan has been split into three stages in order to defeat Satan once and for all. Yet the inner truth of the entire work of the battle with Satan is that its effects are achieved through several steps of work: bestowing grace upon man, becoming man’s sin offering, forgiving the sins of man, conquering man, and making man perfect” (“Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination” in). We can see that God’s work of salvation occurs in three stages. Those are Jehovah God’s work in the Age of Law, the Lord Jesus’ redemption in the Age of Grace, and Almighty God’s last days’ judgment work in the Age of Kingdom. These three stages of work comprise God’s full work of salvation, and this is how God saves mankind from Satan’s forces, step by step, so that we can be fully gained by God. The significance behind each step is profound. This is all indispensable work in God’s management plan to save mankind, and critical parts of the process to save corrupt mankind from sin and Satan’s forces.
Next, I’d like to briefly describe God’s three stages of work based on His own words. First let’s talk about God’s first step of work for man’s salvation: work in the Age of Law. We all know that before God carried out His work for the Age of Law, humans were entirely naïve. They didn’t know how toor how to live their lives on earth. They were constantly sinning and offending God, and didn’t even know what sin is. To help people distance themselves from sin and live properly, God began His work of the Age of Law. Let’s read a passage of God’s words about this. “During the Age of Law, Jehovah laid down many commandments for Moses to pass on to the Israelites who followed him out of Egypt. These commandments were given by Jehovah to the Israelites and bore no relation to the Egyptians; they were meant to restrain the Israelites, and He used the commandments to make demands of them. Whether they observed the Sabbath, whether they respected their parents, whether they worshiped idols, and so forth—these were the principles by which they were judged sinful or righteous. Among them, there were some who were struck by Jehovah’s fire, some who were stoned to death, and some who received Jehovah’s blessing, and this was determined according to whether or not they obeyed these commandments. Those who did not observe the Sabbath were stoned to death. Those priests who did not observe the Sabbath were struck by Jehovah’s fire. Those who did not show respect to their parents were also stoned to death. This was all commended by Jehovah. Jehovah established His commandments and laws so that, as He led them in their lives, the people would listen to and obey His word and not rebel against Him. He used these laws to keep the newborn human race under control, the better to lay the foundation for His future work. And so, based on the work that Jehovah did, the first age was called the Age of Law” (“The Work in the Age of Law” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). In the Age of Law, Jehovah God issued many laws and commandments, teaching mankind how to worship God and how to lead their lives. Those who followed the law gained God’s protection and blessings, while those who violated the law had to offer sacrifices for their sins to be forgiven. Otherwise they’d face God’s punishment and damnation. Those of the Age of Law personally knew God’s righteousness and wrath, His unoffendable disposition, and they knew His mercy and blessings. That’s why everyone feared Jehovah God and abided by His law and commandments. They had God’s protection and lived proper lives on earth. Now let’s give some thought to this: If God hadn’t done His work of the Age of Law, what would have happened to mankind? Without the law’s restrictions or God’s guidance, all of mankind would have fallen into utter chaos and been seized by Satan. God giving mankind the law was incredibly important work! His work of the Age of Law taught man what is sin, and what is righteousness, and it showed man that sinning requires a sacrifice for atonement. God’s first stage of work not only brought mankind onto the right track in their lives, but it also set the stage, paved the road for the redemption work of the Age of Grace.
Late in the Age of Law, all of humanity was so deeply corrupted by Satan that they were sinning more and more, and the law could no longer control them. They didn’t have enough sacrifices for their sin, so they were facing condemnation and execution under the law, all calling out to God in their pain. And so, God personally became flesh as the Lord Jesus and performed the work of redemption, beginning the Age of Grace and ending the Age of Law. Let’s read more of Almighty God’s words. “During the Age of Grace, Jesus came to redeem the whole of fallen humankind (not only the Israelites). He showed mercy and lovingkindness to man. The Jesus that man saw in the Age of Grace was filled with lovingkindness and was always loving toward man, for He had come to save humanity from sin. He was able to forgive men their sins until His crucifixion completely redeemed humankind from sin. During this period, God appeared before man with mercy and lovingkindness; that is, He became a sin offering for man and was crucified for the sins of man, so that they might forever be forgiven” (“The Two Incarnations Complete the Significance of the Incarnation” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Without Jesus’ redemption, mankind would forever have lived in sin and become the progeny of sin, the descendants of demons. Continuing thus, the whole world would have become the land where Satan dwells, the place of its habitation. The work of redemption, however, required showing mercy and lovingkindness toward mankind; only by such means could mankind receive forgiveness and ultimately win the right to be made complete and fully gained by God. Without this stage of work, the six-thousand-year management plan would not have been able to progress. If Jesus had not been crucified, if He had only healed the sick and exorcised demons, then people could not have been completely forgiven of their sins. In the three and a half years that Jesus spent doing His work on earth, He completed only half of His work of redemption; then, by being nailed to the cross and becoming the likeness of sinful flesh, by being handed over to the evil one, He completed the work of crucifixion and mastered the destiny of mankind. Only after He was delivered into Satan’s hands did He redeem mankind. For thirty-three and a half years He suffered on earth, being ridiculed, slandered, and forsaken, even to the point where He had no place to lay His head, no place of rest, and He was later crucified, with His whole being—a holy and innocent body—nailed to the cross. He endured every kind of suffering there is. Those in power mocked and whipped Him, and the soldiers even spat in His face; yet He remained silent and endured until the end, submitting unconditionally to the point of death, whereupon He redeemed all of humanity. Only then was He permitted to rest. The work that Jesus did represents only the Age of Grace; it does not represent the Age of Law, nor is it a substitute for the work of the last days. This is the essence of Jesus’ work in the Age of Grace, the second age that mankind has passed through—the Age of Redemption” (“The True Story Behind the Work of the Age of Redemption” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). When Jesus lived among us, He preached “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He taught man to confess and repent, to love others as ourselves, to forgive others seventy times seven, to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, to worship God in spirit and in truth, and more. Jesus’ words showed people what God’s will was and gave them a distinct goal and direction in their faith. This was a step beyond the restrictions of the law and the rules. He also showed many signs and wonders, healing the sick, driving out demons, and forgiving sins. He was full of tolerance and patience. Everyone could feel God’s love and mercy, see His loveliness, and draw closer to God. In the end, the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross, serving as an eternal sin offering, forgiving our sins once and for all. After that, people just needed to confess and repent to the Lord for their sins to be forgiven and they wouldn’t be condemned and punished under the law. They were able to come before God in prayer and enjoy the peace, joy, and rich blessings bestowed by the Lord. Clearly, Jesus’ work of redemption has been a great blessing for mankind, allowing us to continue to survive and thrive until today.
So then, since the Lord Jesus completed His work and redeemed us from Satan’s clutches, does that mean God’s work of salvation is complete? Does it mean we don’t need any more of God’s salvation work? The answer is: No. God’s work hasn’t concluded. Mankind still needs another step of God’s salvation work. Man was redeemed by the Lord Jesus and our sins were forgiven, but our sinful nature hasn’t been resolved. We’re driven by our sinful nature, always living within corruption. We can’t help but lie and sin all the time. We rebel against and resist the Lord, and we can’t put His words into practice. We all live in a cycle of sinning, confessing, and sinning again, within the painful struggle against sin. No one can escape the bonds and strictures of sin. So could people unable to escape sin really be raptured into the kingdom without judgment and cleansing? Definitely not. God is a holy God. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). God would never allow those who may still sin and resist Him to enter His kingdom. That’s why the Lord prophesied He would come again after He’d completed His redemption work. The Lord Jesus’ return is to fully resolve man’s sinful nature, to save us from sin so we can become holy and enter God’s kingdom. Just as the Lord Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12–13). “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Revelation also prophesied: “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come” (Revelation 14:7). We can see that the Lord Jesus expresses truths and does judgment work upon His return, leading man to enter into all truths. That is fully saving mankind from sin and from Satan’s forces, leading us into God’s kingdom. This is a step of work God planned long ago and the final step in God’s management plan. Let’s read some of Almighty God’s words to better understand this aspect of the truth.
Almighty God says, “Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition. And so, now that man has been forgiven of his sins, God has returned to the flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment. This work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and they shall gain the truth, the way, and the life” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“Through the sin offering, man has been forgiven his sins, for the work of the crucifixion has already come to an end and God has prevailed over Satan. But the corrupt disposition of man still remaining within him, man can still sin and resist God, and God has not gained mankind. That is why in this stage of work God uses the word to expose the corrupt disposition of man, causing him to practice in accordance with the right path. This stage is more meaningful than the previous one, as well as more fruitful, for now it is the word that directly supplies man’s life and enables the disposition of man to be completely renewed; it is a much more thorough stage of work. Therefore, the incarnation in the last days has completed the significance of God’s incarnation and completely finished God’s management plan for man’s salvation” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“Christ of the last days uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. All these different methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced about God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt essence and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the essence of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Reading this helps us see why God is doing judgment work in the last days. The Lord Jesus’ redemption work just forgave us of our sins, but our sinful nature is still deeply entrenched. We need God to speak more truths and do a step of judgment work to completely cleanse and save mankind. That is, the Lord Jesus’ redemption work just paved the way for God’s judgment work of the last days, which is the most key, most central part of all of God’s work of salvation. It is also our only route to full salvation and entry into the kingdom. When this step of work is done, man’s corrupt dispositions will be cleansed and we’ll stop sinning and resisting God. We’ll be able to truly submit to and love God, and God’s work to save mankind will be fully completed. That will be the completion of God’s 6,000-year management plan. Almighty God appeared and began working in the last days, bringing an end to the Age of Grace and beginning the Age of Kingdom. He has expressed all truths required to cleanse and fully save mankind, not only revealing all the mysteries of God’s management plan, but also judging and exposing all of man’s satanic natures and dispositions that go against God, and revealing all of our notions about God and our mistaken ideas in our faith. He has also given us the path to escaping sin and being fully saved, and more. Almighty God’s words are priceless! These are all realities of the truth that people must possess to be purified and fully saved, and they are words that God never uttered in the Age of Law or the Age of Grace. This is God bringing us the path to eternal life in the last days. Many of God’s chosen people who’ve undergone His judgment have seen the truth of their corruption and their satanic nature that resists God, have gained true understanding of God’s righteous, unoffendable disposition, and developed reverence for God. They are ultimately freed from the shackles of sin and live out a true human likeness. They all have incredible testimony of being freed from sin and triumphing over Satan. God’s chosen people all know that God’s judgment work of the last days truly is His ultimate salvation for mankind! Without this judgment work, we would never see the truth of our own corruption, we would never know the root of our own sin, and we would never be able to cleanse and change our corrupt dispositions. Almighty God has already completed a group of overcomers before the disasters and His kingdom gospel has spread across the globe. The facts show that Almighty God has fully defeated Satan and gained all glory, and His 6,000-year management plan has been completed. The great disasters have begun, and all the evildoers who resist God will be punished and destroyed in the disasters, while those who undergo judgment and are cleansed will be protected by God through the disasters. Then there will be a new heaven and earth—Christ’s kingdom will manifest on the earth, and those left will be the people of God who will live forever in God’s kingdom and enjoy His blessings and what He has promised. This truly fulfills Revelation’s prophecies: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:3–4).
At this point we can see how precious and practical God’s three steps of work are! Every single one is to resolve the problem of man’s sin and to complete one aim. That is to save mankind from Satan’s power and from sin, step by step, so that we can enter God’s kingdom and receive His promises and blessings. Each stage of work is linked to the next, and each step is built upon the foundation of the last step, each more profound and elevated than the last. They are closely linked, inextricable, and none would work without the others. See, without the work of the Age of Law, no one would know what sin is, and we’d all be trampled by Satan, living in sin. We’d be wrested away by Satan, obliterated. Without the redemption work of the Age of Grace, mankind would suffer punishment for committing too many sins and we wouldn’t have made it to this day. So what if God didn’t do the judgment work of the last days? Without it we’d never escape the bonds of sin or be worthy of entering the kingdom of heaven. We’d end up destroyed for being profoundly sinful. Clearly, without just one step of these three steps of work, mankind would belong to Satan and could never be fully saved. These three stages of work comprise God’s full management plan for God’s salvation of man. Each step is even more critical than the last, and they are all God’s meticulous arrangements to save mankind. This fully shows us God’s great love and salvation for humanity and shows us His wisdom and almightiness. Just as Almighty God says, “My entire management plan, the six-thousand-year management plan, consists of three stages, or three ages: the Age of Law of the beginning; the Age of Grace (which is also the Age of Redemption); and the Age of Kingdom of the last days. My work in these three ages differs in content according to the nature of each age, but at each stage this work befits the needs of man—or, to be more precise, is done according to the tricks that Satan employs in the war that I wage against it. The purpose of My work is to defeat Satan, to make manifest My wisdom and omnipotence, to expose all of Satan’s tricks, and thereby to save the entire human race, which lives under Satan’s domain. It is to show My wisdom and omnipotence, and to reveal the unbearable hideousness of Satan; even more than that, it is to allow created beings to discriminate between good and evil, to know that I am the Ruler of all things, to see clearly that Satan is the enemy of humanity, a degenerate, the evil one, and to allow them to tell, with absolute certainty, the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood, holiness and filth, and what is great and what is ignoble. Thus will ignorant humanity become able to bear witness to Me that it is not I who corrupt humanity, and only I—the Creator—can save humanity, can bestow upon people the things that they can enjoy; and they will come to know that I am the Ruler of all things and Satan is merely one of the beings that I created and that later turned against Me. My six-thousand-year management plan is divided into three stages, and I work thus to achieve the effect of enabling created beings to bear witness to Me, and comprehend My will, and know that I am the truth” (“The True Story Behind the Work of the Age of Redemption” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).