5. Why Is It Said That Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God?
(A Selected Chapter of God’s Word)
Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God
The work of managing mankind is divided into three stages, which means that the work of saving mankind is divided into three stages. These three stages do not include the work of creating the world, but are rather the three stages of the work of the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom. The work of creating the world was the work of producing the whole of mankind. It was not the work of saving mankind, and bears no relation to the work of saving mankind, for when the world was created, mankind had not been corrupted by Satan, and so there was no need to carry out the work of mankind’s salvation. The work of saving mankind only began when mankind had been corrupted by Satan, and so the work of managing mankind also only began when mankind had been corrupted. In other words, God’s management of man began as a result of the work of saving mankind, and did not arise from the work of creating the world. It was only after mankind acquired a corrupt disposition that the work of management came into existence, and so the work of managing mankind includes three parts, rather than four stages, or four ages. Only this is the correct way to refer to God’s management of mankind. When the final age comes to a close, the work of managing mankind will have come to a complete end. The conclusion of the work of management means that the work of saving all mankind will have been completely finished, and that mankind will have reached the end of their journey. Without the work of saving all mankind, the work of managing mankind would not exist, nor would there be the three stages of work. It was precisely because of mankind’s depravity, and because mankind was in such urgent need of salvation, that Jehovah concluded the creation of the world and began the work of the Age of Law. Only then did the work of managing mankind begin, which means that only then did the work of saving mankind begin. “Managing mankind” does not mean guiding the life of mankind, newly created, on earth (which is to say, a mankind that had yet to be corrupted). Rather, it is the salvation of a mankind that has been corrupted by Satan, which is to say, it is to transform this corrupt mankind. This is the meaning of “managing mankind.” The work of saving mankind does not include the work of creating the world, and so the work of managing mankind also does not include the work of creating the world, but rather only includes three stages of work that are separate from the world’s creation. To understand the work of managing mankind, it is necessary to be aware of the history of the three stages of work—this is what everyone must be aware of in order to be saved. As creatures of God, you should recognize that man was created by God, and you should recognize the source of mankind’s corruption, and, moreover, the process of man’s salvation. If you only know how to act according to doctrine in an attempt to gain God’s favor, but have no inkling of how God saves mankind, or of the source of mankind’s corruption, then this is what you lack as a creature of God. You should not be satisfied with just understanding those truths that can be put into practice, while remaining ignorant of the wider scope of God’s management work—if this is the case, then you are too dogmatic. The three stages of work are the inside story of God’s management of man, the advent of the gospel of the entire universe, the greatest mystery among all mankind, and they are also the foundation of spreading the gospel. If you only focus on understanding simple truths that relate to your life, and know nothing of this, the greatest of all mysteries and visions, then is your life not akin to a defective product, good for nothing except being looked at?
If man only concentrates on practice, and sees the work of God and man’s knowledge as secondary, then is this not the same as obsessing on minor details while disregarding the more important things? That which you must know, you must know; that which you must put into practice, you must put into practice. Only then will you be someone who knows how to pursue the truth. When the day comes for you to spread the gospel, if you are only able to say that God is a great and righteous God, that He is the supreme God, a God with whom no great man can compare, and that He is a God above whom there is none…, if you can only say these irrelevant and superficial words while being utterly incapable of speaking words which are of crucial importance and which have substance; if you have nothing to say about knowing God or the work of God, and, furthermore, cannot explain the truth, or provide what is lacking in man, then someone such as you is incapable of performing their duty well. Bearing testimony to God and spreading the gospel of the kingdom is no simple matter. You must first be equipped with the truth, and the visions that must be understood. When you are clear about the visions and truth of the different aspects of God’s work, in your heart you come to know the work of God, and regardless of what God does—whether it be righteous judgment or refinement of man—you possess the greatest vision as your foundation, and you possess the right truth to put into practice, then you will be able to follow God to the very end. You must know that regardless of what work He does, the aim of God’s work does not change, the heart of His work does not change, and His will toward man does not change. No matter how severe His words, no matter how adverse the environment, the principles of His work will not change, and His intention of saving man will not change. Nor will the heart of His work change, provided that it is not the work of the revelation of the end of man or the destination of man, and is not the work of the final phase, or the work of bringing God’s entire plan of management to an end, and provided that it is during the time He works man. The heart of His work will always be the salvation of mankind; this should be the foundation of your belief in God. The aim of the three stages of work is the salvation of all mankind—this means the complete salvation of man from the domain of Satan. Though each of the three stages of work has a different objective and significance, each is part of the work of saving mankind, and each is different work of salvation carried out according to the requirements of mankind. Once you are aware of the aim of these three stages of work, then you will be aware of how to appreciate the significance of each stage of work, and will recognize how to act in order to satisfy the desire of God. If you can reach this point, then this, the greatest of all visions, will become the foundation of your belief in God. You should not only seek after easy ways of practice or deep truths, but should combine visions with practice, so that there are both truths that can be put into practice and knowledge that is based on visions. Only then will you be someone that wholly pursues the truth.
The three stages of work are at the heart of God’s entire management, and in them are expressed the disposition of God and what He is. Those who do not know of the three stages of God’s work are incapable of realizing how God expresses His disposition, nor do they know the wisdom of God’s work. They also remain ignorant of the many ways in which He saves mankind, and of His will for the whole of mankind. The three stages of work are the full expression of the work of saving mankind. Those who do not know the three stages of work will be ignorant of the various methods and principles of the Holy Spirit’s work, and those who only rigidly stick to doctrine that is left over from a certain stage of work are people who limit God to doctrine, and whose belief in God is vague and uncertain. Such people will never receive God’s salvation. Only the three stages of God’s work can fully express the entirety of God’s disposition and completely express God’s intention of saving the whole of mankind, and the entire process of mankind’s salvation. This is proof that He has defeated Satan and gained mankind; it is proof of God’s victory, and is the expression of God’s entire disposition. Those who understand only one stage of the three stages of God’s work know only part of God’s disposition. In the notions of man, it is easy for this single stage of work to become doctrine, and it becomes likely that man will establish fixed rules about God and use this single part of God’s disposition as a representation of God’s entire disposition. Furthermore, much of man’s imagination is mixed within, such that man rigidly constrains the disposition, being, and wisdom of God, as well as the principles of God’s work, within limited parameters, believing that if God was like this once, then He will remain the same for all time and never change. Only those who know and appreciate the three stages of work can fully and accurately know God. At the very least, they will not define God as the God of the Israelites, or the Jews, and will not see Him as a God who will be forever nailed to the cross for the sake of man. If one only comes to know God from one stage of His work, then their knowledge is far too small, and amounts to no more than a drop in the ocean. If not, why would many of the religious old guard nail God to the cross alive? Is it not because man confines God within certain parameters? Do many people not oppose God and obstruct the work of the Holy Spirit because they do not know the varied and diverse work of God, and, furthermore, because they possess but a smidgeon of knowledge and doctrine with which to measure the work of the Holy Spirit? Though the experiences of such people are superficial, they are arrogant and indulgent in nature and they regard the work of the Holy Spirit with contempt, ignore the disciplines of the Holy Spirit and, moreover, use their trivial old arguments to “confirm” the work of the Holy Spirit. They also put on an act, and are wholly convinced of their own learning and erudition, and convinced that they are able to travel across the world. Are such people not those who are despised and rejected by the Holy Spirit, and will they not be eliminated by the new age? Are not those who come before God and openly oppose Him ignorant and under-informed little people, who are merely trying to show how brilliant they are? With but a meager knowledge of the Bible, they try to straddle the world’s “academia”; with but a superficial doctrine to teach people, they try to reverse the work of the Holy Spirit and attempt to make it revolve around their own thought process. Short-sighted as they are, they try to behold in one glance 6,000 years of God’s work. These people do not have any sense worth mentioning! In fact, the greater people’s knowledge of God, the slower they are to judge His work. Furthermore, they only talk a little of their knowledge of God’s work today, but they are not rash in their judgments. The less people know of God, the more arrogant and overconfident they are and the more wantonly they proclaim God’s being—yet they only talk of theory, and offer no real evidence. Such people are of no value whatsoever. Those who see the work of the Holy Spirit as a game are frivolous! Those who are not cautious when they encounter the new work of the Holy Spirit, who run their mouths off, are quick to judge, who give free rein to their natural instinct to deny the rightness of the Holy Spirit’s work, and who also insult and blaspheme it—are such disrespectful people not ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s work? Are they not, furthermore, people of great arrogance, people who are inherently proud and ungovernable? Even if a day comes when such people accept the new work of the Holy Spirit, still God will not tolerate them. Not only do they look down upon those who work for God, but they also blaspheme against God Himself. Such foolhardy people will not be forgiven, either in this age or the age to come, and they shall forever perish in hell! Such disrespectful, indulgent people are pretending to believe in God, and the more people are like this, the more liable they are to offend God’s administrative decrees. Do not all those arrogant ones who are innately unbridled, and who have never obeyed anyone, all walk upon this path? Do they not oppose God day after day, God who is always new and never old? Today, you should understand why you must know the importance of the three stages of God’s work. The words I say are of benefit to you, and are not just empty talk. If you simply read them as if admiring flowers whilst galloping past on horseback, will not all My hard work be for naught? Each of you should know your own nature. Most of you are skilled at argument; the answers to theoretical questions roll off your tongue, but you have nothing to say to questions involving substance. Even today, you still indulge in frivolous conversation, incapable of changing your old nature, and most of you have no intention of changing the way in which you pursue in order to achieve higher truth, but instead only live your lives half-heartedly. How are such people capable of following God to the very end? Even if you do make it to the end of the path, what benefit will it be to you? It is better to change your ideas before it is too late, either truly pursuing, or else withdrawing early. As time goes on you will become a freeloading parasite—are you willing to play such a low and ignoble role?
The three stages of work are a record of the entire work of God; they are a record of God’s salvation of mankind, and they are not imaginary. If you truly wish to seek a knowledge of God’s entire disposition, then you must know the three stages of work carried out by God, and, furthermore, you must not omit any stage. This is the minimum that must be achieved by those who seek to know God. Man himself cannot fabricate a true knowledge of God. This is not something that man himself can imagine, nor is it the consequence of the Holy Spirit’s special favor granted to a single person. Rather, it is a knowledge that comes after man has experienced the work of God, and it is a knowledge of God that only comes after having experienced the facts of God’s work. Such a knowledge cannot be achieved on a whim, and nor is it something that can be taught. It is wholly related to personal experience. God’s salvation of mankind is at the core of these three stages of work, yet within the work of salvation are included several methods of working and several means by which God’s disposition is expressed. This is what is most difficult for man to identify, and it is this that is difficult for man to understand. The separation of the ages, changes in God’s work, changes in the location of work, changes in the recipient of this work, and so on—these are all included in the three stages of work. In particular, the difference in the Holy Spirit’s way of working, as well as alterations in God’s disposition, image, name, identity, or other changes, are all part of the three stages of work. One stage of work can only represent one part, and is limited within a certain scope. It does not involve the separation of the ages, or changes in God’s work, much less the other aspects. This is a clearly obvious fact. The three stages of work are the entirety of God’s work in saving mankind. Man must know God’s work and God’s disposition in the work of salvation; without this fact, your knowledge of God consists of nothing but hollow words, nothing more than armchair pontification. Such knowledge can neither convince nor conquer man; it is at odds with reality, and it is not the truth. It may be very plentiful and pleasing to the ear, but if it is at odds with God’s inherent disposition, then God will not spare you. Not only will He not commend your knowledge, but He will also take retribution on you for being a sinner who has blasphemed Him. The words of knowing God are not spoken lightly. Though you may be glib and silver-tongued, and though your words are so clever that you can argue black into being white and white into being black, still you are out of your depth when it comes to speaking of the knowledge of God. God is not someone that you can judge rashly or casually praise, or nonchalantly denigrate. You praise anyone and everyone, yet you struggle to find the right words to describe the great virtuousness and graciousness of God—this is what every loser comes to realize. Even though there are many masters of language who are capable of describing God, the accuracy of what they describe is but a hundredth of the truth spoken by people who belong to God, people who though possessing only a limited vocabulary, have rich experience to draw upon. Thus it can be seen that knowledge of God lies in accuracy and actuality, and not in the clever use of words or a rich vocabulary, and that man’s knowledge and the knowledge of God are completely unrelated. The lesson of knowing God is higher than any of the natural sciences of mankind. It is a lesson that can only be achieved by an extremely small number of those who seek to know God, and cannot be achieved by just any person of talent. So, you must not view knowing God and pursuing the truth as if they are things that could be achieved by a mere child. Perhaps you have been completely successful in your family life, or your career, or in your marriage, but when it comes to the truth and the lesson of knowing God, you have nothing to show for yourself and you have achieved nothing. Putting the truth into practice, it can be said, is of great difficulty for you, and knowing God is an even greater problem. This is your difficulty, and this is also the difficulty faced by the whole of mankind. Among those who have had some achievements in the course of knowing God, there are almost none who are up to standard. Man does not know what it means to know God, or why it is necessary to know God, or to what degree one must attain in order to know God. This is what is so confounding to mankind, and it is quite simply the biggest riddle faced by mankind—no one is capable of answering this question, nor is anyone willing to answer this question, because, to date, no one among mankind has had any success in the study of this work. Perhaps, when the riddle of the three stages of work is made known to mankind, there will appear in succession a group of talented people who know God. Of course, I hope that is the case, and, furthermore, I am in the process of carrying out this work, and hope to see the appearance of more such talented people in the near future. They will become those who bear testimony to the fact of these three stages of work, and, of course, they will also be the first to bear testimony to these three stages of work. But nothing would be more distressing and regrettable than if such talented people do not emerge on the day that God’s work comes to an end, or if there are only one or two who have personally accepted being made perfect by God incarnate. However, this is only the worst case scenario. Whatever the case may be, I still hope that those who truly pursue can gain this blessing. Since the beginning of time, there has never before been work such as this; such an undertaking has never occurred in the history of human development. If you can truly become one of the first of those who know God, would this not be the highest honor among all creatures? Would any creature among mankind be more commended by God? Such work is not easy to achieve, but will ultimately still reap rewards. Regardless of their gender or nationality, all those who are capable of achieving the knowledge of God will, in the end, receive God’s greatest honor, and will be the only ones that possess the authority of God. This is the work of today, and it is also the work of the future; it is the last and highest work to be accomplished in 6,000 years of work, and it is a way of working that reveals each category of man. Through the work of causing man to know God, the different ranks of man are revealed: Those who know God are qualified to receive God’s blessings and accept His promises, while those who do not know God are unqualified to receive God’s blessings and accept His promises. Those who know God are the intimates of God, and those who do not know God cannot be called the intimates of God; the intimates of God can receive any of God’s blessings, but those who are not His intimates are not worthy of any of His work. Whether it be tribulations, refinement, or judgment, all these things are for the sake of allowing man to ultimately achieve a knowledge of God, and so that man may submit to God. This is the only effect that will ultimately be achieved. Nothing of the three stages of work is hidden, and this is advantageous to man’s knowledge of God, and helps man gain a more complete and thorough knowledge of God. All this work is of benefit to man.
The work of God Himself is the vision that man must know, for the work of God cannot be achieved by man, and is not possessed by man. The three stages of work are the entirety of God’s management, and there is no greater vision that should be known by man. If man does not know this mighty vision, then it is not easy to know God, it is not easy to understand God’s will, and, furthermore, the path that man walks upon will become increasingly arduous. Without visions, man would not have been able to come this far. It is the visions that have safeguarded man until today, and which have provided the greatest protection to man. In the future, your knowledge must deepen, and you must come to know the entirety of His will and the substance of His wise work within the three stages of work. Only this is your true stature. The final stage of work does not stand alone, but is part of the whole formed together with the two previous stages, which is to say that it is impossible to complete the entire work of salvation by only doing one of the three stages of work. Even though the final stage of work is able to fully save man, this does not mean that it is only necessary to carry out this single stage on its own, and that the two previous stages of work are not required to save man from the influence of Satan. No single stage of the three stages can be held up as the only vision that must be known by all mankind, for the entirety of the work of salvation is the three stages of work, not a single stage among them. As long as the work of salvation has not been accomplished, the management of God will be unable to come to a complete end. God’s being, His disposition, and His wisdom are expressed in the entirety of the work of salvation; they are not revealed to man at the very beginning, but have been gradually expressed in the work of salvation. Each stage of the work of salvation expresses part of the disposition of God, and part of His being; not every stage of work can directly and completely express the entirety of God’s being. As such, the work of salvation can only be fully concluded once the three stages of work have been completed, and so man’s knowledge of the entirety of God is inseparable from the three stages of God’s work. What man gains from one stage of work is merely the disposition of God that is expressed in a single part of His work. It cannot represent the disposition and being that is expressed in the stages before or after. That is because the work of saving mankind cannot be finished straight away during one period, or in one location, but gradually becomes deeper according to man’s level of development at different times and places. It is work that is carried out in stages, and it is not completed in a single stage. So, God’s entire wisdom is crystallized in the three stages, rather than in one individual stage. His entire being and His entire wisdom are laid forth in these three stages, and each stage contains His being, and each stage is a record of the wisdom of His work. Man should know the entire disposition of God expressed in these three stages. All this of God’s being is of the utmost importance to all mankind, and if people do not have this knowledge when they worship God, then they are no different from those who worship Buddha. God’s work among man is not hidden from man, and should be known by all of those who worship God. Since God has carried out the three stages of the work of salvation among man, man should know the expression of what He has and is during these three stages of work. This is what must be done by man. What God hides from man is that which man is incapable of achieving, and that which man should not know, whereas that which God shows to man is that which man should know, and that which man should possess. Each of the three stages of work is carried out upon the foundation of the previous stage; it is not carried out independently, separate from the work of salvation. Though there are great differences in the age and type of work that is carried out, at its core is still the salvation of mankind, and each stage of the work of salvation is deeper than the last. Each stage of work continues on from the foundation of the last, which is not abolished. In this way, in His work that is always new and never old, God is constantly expressing aspects of His disposition that have never before been expressed to man, and is always revealing to man His new work and His new being, and even though the religious old guard does its utmost to resist this, and openly opposes it, God always does the new work that He intends to do. His work is always changing, and because of this, it is always encountering the opposition of man. So, too, is His disposition always changing, as are the age and recipients of His work. Furthermore, He is always doing work that has never been done before, even carrying out work that appears to man to be in contradiction to the work done before, to run counter to it. Man is only able to accept one kind of work, or one way of practice, and it is difficult for man to accept work, or ways of practice, that are at odds with, or higher than, them. But the Holy Spirit is always doing new work, and so there appear group after group of religious experts that oppose the new work of God. These people have become experts precisely because man has no knowledge of how God is always new and never old, and has no knowledge of the principles of God’s work, and, furthermore, has no knowledge of the many ways in which God saves man. As such, man is utterly unable to tell if it is work that comes from the Holy Spirit, and if it is the work of God Himself. Many people cling to an attitude in which, if something corresponds with the words that came before, then they accept it, and if there are differences with the work of before, then they oppose and reject it. Today, do you all not abide by such principles? The three stages of the work of salvation have not had any great effect on you, and there are those who believe that the two previous stages of work are a burden they simply do not need to know. They think that these stages should not be declared to the masses and should be retracted as soon as possible, so that people do not feel overwhelmed by the previous two stages of the three stages of work. Most believe that making the two previous stages of work known is a step too far, and is of no help in knowing God—that is what you think. Today, you all believe that it is right to act in this way, but the day will come when you realize the importance of My work: Know that I do not do any work that is of no significance. Since I am declaring the three stages of work to you, they must be of benefit to you; since these three stages of work are at the heart of God’s entire management, they must become the focus of everyone throughout the universe. One day, you will all realize the importance of this work. Know that you oppose God’s work, or use your own notions to measure the work of today, because you do not know the principles of God’s work, and because you do not take the work of the Holy Spirit seriously enough. Your opposition to God and obstruction of the work of the Holy Spirit is caused by your notions and inherent arrogance. It is not because God’s work is wrong, but because you are naturally too disobedient. After finding their belief in God, some people cannot even say with certainty where man came from, yet they dare to make public speeches appraising the rights and wrongs of the Holy Spirit’s work. They even lecture the apostles who have the Holy Spirit’s new work, passing comment and speaking out of turn; their humanity is too low, and there is not the slightest sense in them. Will the day not come when such people are rejected by the work of the Holy Spirit, and burned by the fires of hell? They do not know the work of God, but instead criticize His work, and also try to instruct God how to work. How can such unreasonable people know God? Man comes to know God during the process of seeking and experiencing; it is not through criticizing at whim that man comes to know God through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The more accurate people’s knowledge of God becomes, the less they oppose Him. In contrast, the less people know of God, the more likely they are to oppose Him. Your notions, your old nature, and your humanity, character and moral outlook are the “capital” with which you resist God, and the more corrupt, degraded and low you become, the more you are the enemy of God. Those who are possessed of strong notions and who have a self-righteous disposition are even more in enmity of God incarnate; such people are the antichrists. If your notions are not rectified, then they will always be against God; you will never be compatible with God, and will always be apart from Him.
Only by putting aside your old notions can you gain new knowledge, yet old knowledge is not necessarily equivalent to old notions. “Notions” refers to the things imagined by man that are at odds with reality. If the old knowledge was already outdated in the old age and stopped man from entering into the new work, then such knowledge is also a notion. If man is able to take the correct approach to such knowledge and can come to know God from several different aspects, combining the old and the new, then the old knowledge becomes an aid to man, and becomes the basis by which man enters the new age. The lesson of knowing God requires you to master many principles: how to enter onto the path to knowing God, which truths you must understand in order to know God, and how to get rid of your notions and old nature so that you may submit to all of the arrangements of God’s new work. If you use these principles as the foundation for entering into the lesson of knowing God, then your knowledge will become deeper and deeper. If you have a clear knowledge of the three stages of work—which is to say, of God’s entire plan of management—and if you can fully correlate the previous two stages of God’s work with the present stage, and see that it is work done by one God, then you will have an incomparably sturdy foundation. The three stages of work were done by one God; this is the greatest vision, and this is the only path to knowing God. The three stages of work could only have been done by God Himself, and no man could do such work on His behalf—this is to say that only God Himself could have done His own work from the beginning until today. Though the three stages of God’s work have been carried out in different ages and locations, and though the work of each is different, it is all work done by one God. Of all the visions, this is the greatest vision that man should know, and if it can be completely understood by man, then he will be able to stand fast. Today, the biggest problem facing various religions and denominations is that they do not know the work of the Holy Spirit, and are unable to differentiate between the work of the Holy Spirit and work that is not of the Holy Spirit—because of this, they cannot tell whether this stage of work is, like the last two stages of work, also done by Jehovah God. Though people follow God, most are still unable to tell whether it is the right way. Man worries whether this way is the way personally led by God Himself, and whether God’s incarnation is a fact, and most people still have no clue about how to discern such things. Those who follow God are unable to determine the way, and so the messages which are spoken only have a partial effect among these people, and are incapable of being fully effective, and so this then affects the life entry of such people. If man can see in the three stages of work that they were carried out by God Himself at different times, in different places, and in different people; if man can see that although the work is different, it is all done by one God, and that since it is work done by one God, then it must be right and without error, and that though it is at odds with the notions of man, there is no denying that it is the work of one God—if man can say for sure that it is the work of one God, then the notions of man will be reduced to mere trifles, unworthy of mention. Because the visions of man are unclear, and because man only knows Jehovah as God, and Jesus as the Lord, and is in two minds about the God incarnate of today, many people remain devoted to the work of Jehovah and Jesus, and are beset by notions about the work of today, most people are always doubtful, and do not take the work of today seriously. Man has no notions toward the last two stages of work, which were invisible. That is because man does not understand the reality of the last two stages of work, and did not personally witness them. It is because these stages of work cannot be seen that man imagines as he likes; regardless of what he comes up with, there are no facts to prove such imaginings, and no one to correct them. Man gives free rein to his natural instinct, throwing caution to the wind and letting his imagination run free, for there are no facts to verify his imaginings, and so man’s imaginings become “fact,” regardless of whether there is any proof to them. Thus man believes in his own imagined God in his mind, and does not seek the God of reality. If one person has one kind of belief, then among a hundred people there are a hundred kinds of belief. Man is possessed of such beliefs because he has not seen the reality of God’s work, because he has only heard it with his ears and has not beheld it with his eyes. Man has heard legends and stories—but rarely has he heard the knowledge of the facts of God’s work. Thus it is that people who have only been believers for a year come to believe in God through their own notions. The same is also true for those who have believed in God their entire lives. Those who cannot see the facts will never be able to escape from a faith in which they have notions about God. Man believes that he has freed himself from the bonds of his old notions, and has entered new territory. Does man not know that the knowledge of those who cannot see the true face of God is nothing but notions and hearsay? Man thinks that his notions are right and without error, and he thinks that these notions come from God. Today, when man witnesses the work of God, he lets loose notions that have built up over many years. The imaginings and ideas of the past have become an obstruction to the work of this stage, and it has become difficult for man to let go of such notions and to refute such ideas. The notions toward this step-by-step work of many of those who have followed God until today have become ever more grievous, and these people have gradually formed a stubborn enmity to the God incarnate. The source of this hatred lies in the notions and imaginings of man. The notions and imaginings of man have become the enemy of the work of today, work which is at odds with the notions of man. This has happened precisely because facts do not allow man to give free rein to his imagination, and, moreover, cannot be easily refuted by man, and the notions and imaginings of man do not brook the existence of facts, and, furthermore, because man does not give thought to the correctness and veracity of facts, and merely single-mindedly lets loose his notions and employs his own imagination. This can only be said to be the fault of the notions of man, and cannot be said to be a fault of the work of God. Man may imagine whatever he wishes, but he may not freely dispute any stage of God’s work or any bit of it; the fact of God’s work is inviolable by man. You may give free rein to your imagination, and may even compile fine stories about the work of Jehovah and Jesus, but you may not refute the fact of each stage of the work of Jehovah and Jesus; this is a principle, and it is also an administrative decree, and you should understand the importance of these issues. Man believes that this stage of work is incompatible with the notions of man, and that this is not the case for the two previous stages of work. In his imagination, man believes that the work of the two previous stages is surely not the same as the work of today—but have you ever considered that the principles of God’s work are all the same, that His work is always practical, and that, regardless of the age, there will always be a deluge of people who resist and oppose the fact of His work? All those who today resist and oppose this stage of work would also undoubtedly have opposed God in times past, for such people will always be the enemies of God. The people who know the fact of God’s work will see the three stages of work as the work of one God, and will let go of their notions. These are people who know God, and such people are those who truly follow God. When the entire management of God is nearing its end, God will class all things according to kind. Man was made by the hands of the Creator, and in the end He must completely return man under His dominion; this is the conclusion of the three stages of work. The stage of work of the last days, and the previous two stages in Israel and Judea, are God’s plan of management in the entire universe. No one can deny this, and it is the fact of God’s work. Although people have not experienced or witnessed much of this work, the facts are still the facts, and this is undeniable by any man. People who believe in God in every land of the universe will all accept the three stages of work. If you only know one particular stage of work, and do not understand the other two stages of work, do not understand the work of God in times past, then you are unable to speak the whole truth of God’s entire plan of management, and your knowledge of God is one-sided, for in your belief in God you do not know or understand Him, and so you are not fit to bear testimony to God. Regardless of whether your current knowledge of these things is profound or superficial, in the end, you must have knowledge, and must be thoroughly convinced, and all people will see the entirety of God’s work and submit under the dominion of God. At the end of this work, all religions will become one, all creatures will return under the dominion of the Creator, all creatures will worship the one true God, and all evil religions will come to nothing, never to appear again.
Why this continual reference to the three stages of work? The passing of the ages, social development, and the changing face of nature all follow alterations in the three stages of work. Mankind changes in time with the work of God, and does not develop by itself. The three stages of God’s work are referred to in order to bring all creatures, and all people of every religion and denomination, under the dominion of one God. Regardless of what religion you belong to, ultimately you will all submit under the dominion of God. Only God Himself can carry out this work; it cannot be done by any religious head. There are several major religions in the world, and each has its own head, or leader, and the followers are spread across different countries and regions all over the world; every country, be it large or small, has different religions within it. However, regardless of how many religions there are across the world, all people within the universe ultimately exist under the guidance of one God, and their existence is not guided by religious heads or leaders. This is to say that mankind is not guided by a particular religious head or leader; rather, the whole of mankind is led by the Creator, who created the heavens and earth and all things, and who also created mankind—this is a fact. Although the world has several major religions, regardless of how great they are, they all exist under the dominion of the Creator, and none of them can exceed the scope of this dominion. The development of mankind, social progress, the development of natural sciences—each is inseparable from the arrangements of the Creator, and this work is not something that can be done by any given religious head. Religious heads are merely the leaders of a particular religion, and cannot represent God, nor can they represent the One who created the heavens and earth and all things. Religious heads can lead all those within the entire religion, but they cannot command all creatures beneath the heavens—this is a universally acknowledged fact. Religious heads are merely leaders, and cannot stand equal to God (the Creator). All things are in the hands of the Creator, and in the end they will all return to the hands of the Creator. Mankind was originally made by God, and regardless of the religion, every person will return under the dominion of God—this is inevitable. Only God is the Most High among all things, and the highest ruler among all creatures must also return under His dominion. No matter how high the status of a man, that man cannot take mankind to a suitable destination, and no one is able to class all things according to kind. Jehovah Himself created mankind and classed each according to kind, and when the end time arrives He will still do His own work Himself, classing all things according to kind—this work cannot be done by any apart from God. The three stages of work carried out from the beginning until today were all carried out by God Himself, and were carried out by the one God. The fact of the three stages of work is the fact of God’s leadership of all mankind, a fact that no one can deny. At the end of the three stages of work, all things will be classed according to kind and return under the dominion of God, for throughout the entire universe there only exists this one God, and there are no other religions. He who is incapable of creating the world will be incapable of bringing it to an end, whereas He who created the world will surely bring it to an end. Therefore, if one is unable to bring the age to an end and is merely able to help man cultivate his mind, then he will surely not be God, and will surely not be the Lord of mankind. He will be incapable of doing such great work; there is only one who can carry out such work, and all that are unable to do this work are surely enemies and not God. All evil religions are incompatible with God, and since they are incompatible with God, they are enemies of God. All work is done by this one true God, and the entire universe is commanded by this one God. Regardless of whether He is working in Israel or in China, regardless of whether the work is carried out by the Spirit or by the flesh, all is done by God Himself, and can be done by no one else. It is precisely because He is the God of all mankind that He works freely, unconstrained by any conditions—this is the greatest of all visions. As a creature of God, if you wish to perform the duty of a creature of God and understand the will of God, you must understand the work of God, you must understand God’s will for creatures, you must understand His plan of management, and you must understand all the significance of the work He does. Those who do not understand this are not qualified to be creatures of God! As a creature of God, if you do not understand where you came from, do not understand the history of mankind and all the work done by God, and, furthermore, do not understand how mankind has developed up to today, and do not understand who commands the whole of mankind, then you are incapable of performing your duty. God has led mankind up until today, and ever since He created man upon the earth He has never left him. The Holy Spirit never stops working, has never stopped leading mankind, and has never left mankind. But mankind does not realize that there is a God, much less does he know God. Is there anything more humiliating than this for all creatures of God? God personally leads man, but man does not understand the work of God. You are a creature of God, yet you do not understand your own history, and are unaware of who has led you on your journey, you are oblivious of the work done by God, and so you cannot know God. If you do not know now, then you will never be qualified to bear testimony to God. Today, the Creator personally leads all people once again, and causes all people to behold His wisdom, almightiness, salvation, and wonderfulness. Yet you still do not realize or understand—are you not therefore the one who will not receive salvation? Those who belong to Satan do not understand the words of God, while those who belong to God can hear the voice of God. All those who realize and understand the words I speak are the ones who will be saved and who will bear testimony to God; all those who do not understand the words that I speak cannot bear testimony to God, and are the ones who will be eliminated. Those who do not understand God’s will and do not realize the work of God are incapable of achieving the knowledge of God, and such people will not bear testimony to God. If you wish to bear testimony to God, then you must know God; the knowledge of God is accomplished through the work of God. All in all, if you wish to know God, then you must know God’s work: Knowing God’s work is of the utmost importance. When the three stages of work come to an end, there will be made a group of those who bear testimony to God, a group of those who know God. These people will all know God and will be able to put the truth into practice. They will possess humanity and sense, and will all know the three stages of God’s work of salvation. This is the work that will be accomplished at the end, and these people are the crystallization of the work of 6,000 years of management, and are the most powerful testimony to the ultimate defeat of Satan. Those who can bear testimony to God will be able to receive God’s promise and blessing, and will be the group that remains at the very end, the group which possesses the authority of God and bears testimony to God. Perhaps those among you can all become a member of this group, or perhaps only half, or only a few—it depends on your will and on your pursuit.
from The Word Appears in the Flesh