2. The aim and significance of each of the three stages of God’s work

(1) The aim and significance of God’s work in the Age of Law

Relevant Words of God:

The work that Jehovah did upon the Israelites established among humanity God’s earthly place of origin, which was also the sacred place where He was present. He confined His work to the people of Israel. At first, He did not work outside of Israel, but instead, He chose people He found suitable in order to restrict the scope of His work. Israel is the place where God created Adam and Eve, and out of the dust of that place Jehovah made man; this place became the base of His work on earth. The Israelites, who were the descendants of Noah and also the descendants of Adam, were the human foundation of Jehovah’s work on earth.

At this time, the significance, purpose, and steps of Jehovah’s work in Israel were to initiate His work on the whole earth, which, taking Israel as its center, gradually spread into the Gentile nations. This is the principle according to which He works throughout the universe—to establish a model and then broaden it until all people in the universe shall have received His gospel. The first Israelites were the descendants of Noah. These people were endowed only with the breath of Jehovah, and understood enough to take care of the basic necessities of life, but they did not know what kind of God Jehovah was, or His will for man, much less how they should revere the Lord of all creation. As for whether there were rules and laws to be obeyed,[a] or whether there was a duty that created beings should perform for the Creator, Adam’s descendants knew nothing of these things. All they knew was that the husband should sweat and labor to provide for his family, and that the wife should submit to her husband and perpetuate the race of humans that Jehovah had created. In other words, such people, who had only Jehovah’s breath and His life, knew nothing of how to follow God’s laws or how to satisfy the Lord of all creation. They understood far too little. So even though there was nothing crooked or deceitful in their hearts and jealousy and contention seldom arose among them, nevertheless they had no knowledge or understanding of Jehovah, the Lord of all creation. These ancestors of man knew only to eat the things of Jehovah, and to enjoy the things of Jehovah, but they did not know to revere Jehovah; they did not know that Jehovah was the One they should worship on bended knees. So how could they be called His creatures? If this were so, would not the words, “Jehovah is the Lord of all creation” and “He created man in order that man might manifest Him, glorify Him, and represent Him” have been spoken in vain? How could people who had no reverence for Jehovah become a testimony to His glory? How could they become manifestations of His glory? Would not Jehovah’s words “I created man in My image” then become a weapon in the hands of Satan, the evil one? Would these words not then become a mark of humiliation to Jehovah’s creation of man? In order to complete that stage of work, Jehovah, after creating mankind, did not instruct or guide them from Adam to Noah. Rather, it was not until after the flood destroyed the world that He formally began to guide the Israelites, who were the descendants of Noah and also of Adam. His work and utterances in Israel gave guidance to all the people of Israel as they lived their lives throughout the land of Israel, thereby showing humanity that Jehovah was not only able to blow breath into man, so that he might have life from Him and rise up from the dust into a created human being, but that He could also incinerate mankind, and curse mankind, and use His rod to govern mankind. So, too, did they see that Jehovah could guide man’s life on earth, and speak and work among humanity according to the hours of the day and of the night. The work He did was only so that His creatures might know that man came from dust picked up by Him, and moreover that man had been made by Him. Not only this, but He first did His work in Israel so that other peoples and nations (who in fact were not separate from Israel, but rather had branched off from the Israelites, yet were still descended from Adam and Eve) might receive the gospel of Jehovah from Israel, so that all created beings in the universe might be able to revere Jehovah and hold Him to be great. Had Jehovah not begun His work in Israel, but instead, having created mankind, let them live carefree lives on the earth, then in that case, owing to man’s physical nature (nature means that man can never know the things he cannot see, which is to say that he would not know that it was Jehovah who created mankind, and even less why He did so), he would never know that it was Jehovah who created mankind or that He is the Lord of all creation. If Jehovah had created man and placed him on the earth, and simply dusted off His hands and left, rather than remaining among mankind to give them guidance for a period of time, then all humanity would have returned to nothingness; even heaven and earth and all the myriad things of His making, and all of humanity, would have returned to nothingness and moreover would have been trampled upon by Satan. In this way Jehovah’s wish that “On the earth, that is, in the midst of His creation, He should have a place to stand, a holy place” would have been shattered. And so, after creating mankind, that He was able to remain in their midst to guide them in their lives, and speak to them from within their midst—all of this was in order to realize His desire, and to achieve His plan. The work He did in Israel was meant only to execute the plan He had made before His creation of all things, and therefore His working first among the Israelites and His creation of all things were not at odds with each other, but were done both for the sake of His management, His work, and His glory, and were done in order to deepen the meaning of His creation of mankind. He guided the life of mankind on earth for two thousand years after Noah, during which He taught humanity to understand how to revere Jehovah, the Lord of all creation, how to conduct their lives, and how to go on living, and most of all, how to act as a witness for Jehovah, render Him obedience, and give Him reverence, even praising Him with music as did David and his priests.

Excerpted from “The Work in the Age of Law” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

In the beginning, guiding man during the Old Testament Age of Law was like guiding the life of a child. Earliest mankind was newly born of Jehovah; they were the Israelites. They had no understanding of how to revere God or how to live on earth. Which is to say, Jehovah created mankind, that is, He created Adam and Eve, but He did not give them the faculties to understand how to revere Jehovah or follow the laws of Jehovah on earth. Without the direct guidance of Jehovah, no one could know this directly, for in the beginning man did not possess such faculties. Man only knew that Jehovah was God, but as for how to revere Him, what kind of conduct could be called revering Him, with what kind of mind one was to revere Him, or what to offer up in reverence of Him, man had absolutely no idea. Man only knew how to enjoy that which could be enjoyed among all the things created by Jehovah, but as for what kind of life on earth was worthy of a creature of God, man had no inkling whatsoever. Without someone to instruct them, without someone to guide them personally, this mankind would never have led a life properly befitting humanity, but would only have been furtively held captive by Satan. Jehovah created mankind, that is to say, He created the ancestors of mankind, Eve and Adam, but He did not bestow upon them any further intellect or wisdom. Although they were already living on earth, they understood almost nothing. And so, Jehovah’s work in creating mankind was only half finished, and was far from complete. He had only formed a model of man from clay and given it His breath, but without bestowing unto man sufficient willingness to revere Him. In the beginning, man was not of a mind to revere Him, or to fear Him. Man only knew how to listen to His words but was ignorant of the basic knowledge for life on earth and of the normal rules of human life. And so, although Jehovah created man and woman and finished the project of seven days, He by no means completed the creation of man, for man was but a husk, and lacked the reality of being human. Man only knew that it was Jehovah who had created mankind, but he had no inkling of how to abide by the words or the laws of Jehovah. And so, after mankind came into being, the work of Jehovah was far from over. He still had to fully guide mankind to come before Him, so that they might be able to live together on earth and revere Him, and so that they might be able, with His guidance, to enter upon the right track of a normal human life on earth. Only in this way was the work that had been principally conducted under the name of Jehovah fully completed; that is, only in this way was Jehovah’s work of creating the world fully concluded. And so, having created mankind, He had to guide mankind’s life on earth for several thousand years, in order that mankind might be able to abide by His decrees and laws, and partake in all the activities of a normal human life on earth. Only then was Jehovah’s work fully complete.

Excerpted from “The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

So, you have read these regulations and principles of the Age of Law, have you? Do the regulations encompass a broad range? First, they cover the Ten Commandments, after which are the regulations for how to build altars, and so on. These are followed by regulations for keeping the Sabbath and observing the three feasts, after which are the regulations for offerings. Did you see how many types of offerings there are? There are burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and so on. They are followed by regulations for priests’ offerings, including burnt offerings and grain offerings by priests, and other kinds of offerings. The eighth set of regulations is for the eating of offerings by priests. Then there are regulations for what should be observed during people’s lives. There are stipulations for many aspects of people’s lives, such as the regulations for what they may or may not eat, for the purification of women following childbirth, and for those who have been healed of leprosy. In these regulations, God goes so far as to speak about disease, and there are even rules for the slaughter of sheep and cattle, and so on. Sheep and cattle were created by God, and you should slaughter them however God tells you to; there is, without doubt, reason to God’s words; it is undoubtedly right to act as decreed by God, and surely of benefit to people! There are also feasts and rules to be observed, such as the Sabbath day, Passover, and more—God spoke of all of these. Let us look at the final ones: other regulations—burning the lamps, the year of jubilee, the redemption of the land, making vows, the offering of tithes, and so on. Do these encompass a broad range? The first thing to be talked of is the issue of people’s offerings. Then there are regulations for theft and compensation, and the observation of the Sabbath day…; every one of life’s details is involved. This is to say, when God began the official work of His management plan, He set down many regulations that were to be followed by man. These regulations were in order to allow man to lead the normal life of man on earth, a normal life of man that is inseparable from God and His guidance. God first told man how to make altars, how to set up the altars. After that, He told man how to make offerings, and established how man was to live—what he was to pay attention to in life, what he was to abide by, and what he should and should not do. What God set out for man was all-embracing, and with these customs, regulations, and principles He standardized people’s behavior, guided their lives, guided their initiation to the laws of God, guided them to come before the altar of God, guided them in having a life among all the things God had made for man that was possessed of order, regularity, and moderation. God first used these simple regulations and principles to set limits for man, so that on earth man would have a normal life of worshiping God, would have the normal life of man; such is the specific content of the beginning of His six-thousand-year management plan. The regulations and rules cover a very broad content, they are the specifics of God’s guidance of mankind during the Age of Law, they had to be accepted and obeyed by the people who came before the Age of Law, they are a record of the work done by God during the Age of Law, and they are real proof of God’s leadership and guidance of all mankind.

Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

During the Age of Law, the work of guiding mankind was done under the name of Jehovah, and the first stage of work was initiated on earth. At this stage, the work consisted of building the temple and the altar, and using the law to guide the people of Israel and to work in their midst. By guiding the people of Israel, He launched a base for His work on earth. From this base, He expanded His work beyond Israel, which is to say that, starting from Israel, He extended His work outward, so that later generations gradually came to know that Jehovah was God, and that it was Jehovah who created the heavens and earth and all things, and that it was Jehovah who made all creatures. He spread His work through the people of Israel outward beyond them. The land of Israel was the first holy place of Jehovah’s work on earth, and it was in the land of Israel that God first went to work on earth. That was the work of the Age of Law.

Excerpted from “The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

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. Though Jehovah made many utterances and did much work, He only guided the people positively, teaching these ignorant people how to be human, how to live, how to understand Jehovah’s way. For the most part, the work He did was to cause the people to observe His way and follow His laws. The work was done on people who were shallowly corrupted; it did not extend as far as transforming their disposition or progress in life. He was only concerned with using laws to restrict and control the people. For the Israelites at that time, Jehovah was merely a God in the temple, a God in the heavens. He was a pillar of cloud, a pillar of fire. All Jehovah required them to do was obey what people today know as His laws and commandments—one could even say rules—because what Jehovah did was not meant to transform them, but to give them more things that man ought to have and to instruct them from His own mouth because, after being created, man had nothing that he ought to possess. And so, Jehovah gave to the people the things they ought to possess for their lives on earth, making the people that He had led surpass their ancestors, Adam and Eve, because what Jehovah gave them surpassed what He had given Adam and Eve in the beginning. Regardless, the work Jehovah did in Israel was only to guide humanity and make humanity recognize their Creator. He did not conquer them or transform them, but merely guided them. This is the sum of Jehovah’s work in the Age of Law. It is the background, the true story, the essence of His work in the whole land of Israel, and the beginning of His six thousand years of work—to keep mankind under the control of Jehovah’s hand. Out of this was born more work in His six-thousand-year management plan.

Excerpted from “The Work in the Age of Law” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Footnotes:

a. The original text does not contain the phrase “to be obeyed.”


(2) The aim and significance of God’s work in the Age of Grace

Bible Verses for Reference:

“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jhn 3:17).

Relevant Words of God:

Jesus represents all the work of the Age of Grace; He was incarnated in the flesh, and nailed to the cross, and He also began the Age of Grace. He was crucified in order to complete the work of redemption, to end the Age of Law and begin the Age of Grace, and so He was called the “Supreme Commander,” the “Sin Offering,” and the “Redeemer.” As a result, the work of Jesus differed in content from the work of Jehovah, although they were the same in principle. Jehovah began the Age of Law, establishing the base—the point of origin—for God’s work on earth, and issuing the laws and commandments. These are the two pieces of work He carried out, and they represent the Age of Law. The work Jesus did in the Age of Grace was not to issue laws, but to fulfill them, thereby ushering in the Age of Grace and concluding the Age of Law that had lasted two thousand years. He was the trailblazer, who came in order to begin the Age of Grace, yet the main part of His work lay in redemption. And so His work was also twofold: opening up a new age, and completing the work of redemption through His crucifixion, after which He departed. And henceforth was the Age of Law ended and the Age of Grace begun.

The work Jesus did was in accordance with the needs of man in that age. His task was to redeem humanity, to forgive them their sins, and so His disposition was wholly one of humility, patience, love, piety, forbearance, mercy, and lovingkindness. He brought to humanity abundant grace and blessings, and all the things that people could possibly enjoy, He gave to them for their enjoyment: peace and happiness, His tolerance and love, His mercy and lovingkindness. At the time, the abundance of things to enjoy that people were faced with—the sense of peace and security within their hearts, the feeling of reassurance within their spirits, and their dependence on Jesus the Savior—was all down to the age in which they lived. In the Age of Grace, man had already been corrupted by Satan, and so to achieve the work of redeeming all humanity required an abundance of grace, infinite forbearance and patience, and even more than that, an offering sufficient to atone for humanity’s sins, in order to have an effect. What humanity saw in the Age of Grace was merely My offering of atonement for the sins of humanity: Jesus. All they knew was that God could be merciful and forbearing, and all they saw was the mercy and lovingkindness of Jesus. This was entirely because they were born in the Age of Grace. And so, before they could be redeemed, they had to enjoy the many kinds of grace that Jesus bestowed on them in order to benefit from it. This way, they could be forgiven of their sins through their enjoyment of grace, and could also have the chance to be redeemed through enjoying Jesus’ forbearance and patience. Only through Jesus’ forbearance and patience did they win the right to receive forgiveness and enjoy the abundance of grace bestowed by Jesus. Just as Jesus said: I have come to redeem not the righteous but sinners, to allow sinners to be forgiven of their sins. If, when He became flesh, Jesus had brought the disposition of judgment, curse, and intolerance of man’s offenses, then man would never have had the chance to be redeemed, and would have remained forever sinful. Had this been so, the six-thousand-year management plan would have come to a stop in the Age of Law, and the Age of Law would have been prolonged for six thousand years. Man’s sins would only have grown more numerous and more grievous, and the creation of humanity would have been for naught. Men would only have been able to serve Jehovah under the law, but their sins would have exceeded those of the first created humans. The more Jesus loved mankind, forgiving them their sins and bringing unto them sufficient mercy and lovingkindness, the more mankind was entitled to be saved by Jesus, to be called the lost lambs that Jesus bought back at a great price. Satan could not meddle in this work, for Jesus treated His followers as a loving mother treats the infant at her bosom. He did not grow angry or disdainful toward them, but was full of comfort; He never flew into a rage among them, but forbore with their sins and turned a blind eye to their foolishness and ignorance, to the point of saying, “Forgive others seventy times seven times.” Thus were the hearts of others transformed by His heart, and only thus did people receive forgiveness of their sins through His forbearance.

Excerpted from “The True Story Behind the Work of the Age of Redemption” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Though Jesus in His incarnation was utterly without emotion, He always comforted His disciples, provided for them, helped them, and supported them. However much work He did, or however much suffering He endured, He never made excessive demands of people, but was always patient and forbearing of their sins, such that the people of the Age of Grace affectionately called Him “the lovable Savior Jesus.” To the people of that time—to all people—what Jesus had and was, was mercy and lovingkindness. He never remembered people’s transgressions, and His treatment of them was never based on their transgressions. Because that was a different age, He often bestowed plentiful food upon people so that they could eat their fill. He treated all His followers with grace, healing the sick, driving out demons, raising the dead. In order that people might believe in Him and see that all that He did was done earnestly and sincerely, He went so far as to resurrect a rotting corpse, showing them that in His hands even the dead could come back to life. In this way He endured silently and carried out His work of redemption among them. Even before He was nailed to the cross, Jesus had already taken upon Himself the sins of humanity and become a sin offering for mankind. Even before being crucified, He had opened the way to the cross in order to redeem mankind. Ultimately, He was nailed to the cross, sacrificing Himself for the sake of the cross, and He bestowed all of His mercy, lovingkindness, and holiness upon mankind. Toward humanity, He was always tolerant, never vengeful, forgiving them their sins, exhorting them to repent, and teaching them to have patience, forbearance, and love, to follow in His footsteps and sacrifice themselves for the sake of the cross. His love for the brothers and sisters exceeded His love for Mary. The work that He did took as its principle healing the sick and driving out demons, all for the sake of His redemption. No matter where He went, He treated all who followed Him with grace. He made the poor rich, the lame walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear. He even invited the lowliest, destitute ones, the sinners, to sit at the same table with Him, never shunning them but always being patient, even saying: When a shepherd loses one sheep out of a hundred, he will leave behind the ninety-nine to seek the one lost sheep, and when he finds it he will rejoice greatly. He loved His followers as a ewe loves her lambs. Though they were foolish and ignorant, and were sinners in His eyes, and furthermore were the humblest members of society, He considered these sinners—men whom others despised—as the apple of His eye. Since He favored them, He gave up His life for them, as a lamb was offered up on the altar. He went about in their midst as if He were their servant, letting them use Him and slaughter Him, submitting to them unconditionally. To His followers He was the lovable Savior Jesus, but to the Pharisees, who lectured people from a high pedestal, He showed not mercy and lovingkindness, but loathing and resentment. He did not do much work among the Pharisees, only occasionally lecturing and rebuking them; He did not go about in their midst doing the work of redemption, nor did He perform signs and wonders. He bestowed all His mercy and lovingkindness upon His followers, enduring for the sake of these sinners till the very end, when He was nailed to the cross, and suffering every humiliation until He had fully redeemed all humanity. This was the sum total of His work.

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.

Excerpted from “The True Story Behind the Work of the Age of Redemption” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

When Jesus came, He also did part of God’s work and spoke some words—but what was the main work He accomplished? What He mainly accomplished was the work of crucifixion. He became the likeness of sinful flesh to complete the work of crucifixion and redeem all mankind, and it was for the sake of all mankind’s sins that He served as a sin offering. This is the main work He accomplished. Ultimately, He provided the path of the cross to guide those who came later. When Jesus came, it was primarily to complete the work of redemption. He redeemed all mankind, and brought the gospel of the kingdom of heaven to man, and, furthermore, He brought forth the path to the kingdom of heaven. As a result, all those who came after said, “We should walk the path of the cross, and sacrifice ourselves for the cross.” Of course, in the beginning, Jesus also did some other work and spoke some words to make man repent and confess his sins. But His ministry was still the crucifixion, and the three and a half years He spent preaching the way were in preparation for the crucifixion that came after. The several times that Jesus prayed were also for the sake of the crucifixion. The life of a normal man that He led and the thirty-three and a half years that He lived on earth were primarily for the sake of completing the work of crucifixion; they were to give Him strength to undertake this work, as a result of which God entrusted the work of crucifixion to Him.

Excerpted from “All Is Achieved by the Word of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

During the Age of Grace, Jesus was the God who saved man. What He had and was was grace, love, compassion, forbearance, patience, humility, care, and tolerance, and so much of the work that He did was for the sake of the redemption of man. His disposition was one of compassion and love, and because He was compassionate and loving, He had to be nailed to the cross for man, in order to show that God loved man as Himself, so much so that He offered up Himself in His entirety. During the Age of Grace, the name of God was Jesus, that is to say, God was a God who saved man, and He was a compassionate and loving God. God was with man. His love, His compassion, and His salvation accompanied each and every person. Only by accepting the name of Jesus and His presence was man able to gain peace and joy, to receive His blessing, His vast and numerous graces, and His salvation. Through the crucifixion of Jesus, all those who followed Him received salvation and were forgiven their sins. During the Age of Grace, Jesus was the name of God. In other words, the work of the Age of Grace was done principally under the name of Jesus. During the Age of Grace, God was called Jesus. He undertook a stage of new work beyond the Old Testament, and His work ended with the crucifixion. This was the entirety of His work.

Excerpted from “The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

As soon as the second stage of God’s work was completed—after the crucifixion—God’s work of recovering man from sin (which is to say, recovering man from the hands of Satan) was accomplished. And so, from that moment onward, mankind had only to accept the Lord Jesus as the Savior, and his sins would be forgiven. Nominally speaking, the sins of man were no longer a barrier to his achieving salvation and coming before God, and were no longer the leverage by which Satan accused man. That is because God Himself had done real work, had become the likeness and foretaste of sinful flesh, and God Himself was the sin offering. In this way, man descended from the cross, and was redeemed and saved through the flesh of God—the likeness of this sinful flesh. And so, after having been taken captive by Satan, man came one step closer to accepting His salvation before God. Of course, this stage of work was deeper and more developed than God’s management during the Age of Law.

Excerpted from “Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst God’s Management” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

(3) The aim and significance of God’s work in the Age of Kingdom

Relevant Words of God:

When Jesus came into the world of man, He ushered in the Age of Grace and ended the Age of Law. During the last days, God once more became flesh, and with this incarnation He ended the Age of Grace and ushered in the Age of Kingdom. All those who are able to accept the second incarnation of God will be led into the Age of Kingdom, and will moreover become able to personally accept the guidance of God. 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.

Excerpted from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh

Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons had already been planted within him and, after thousands of years of being corrupted by Satan, he has within him an established nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than a case of redemption in which man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within him has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before becoming worthy to serve God. By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt essence within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as through refinement, man can purge away his corruption and be made pure. Rather than deeming this stage of work to be that of salvation, it would be more apt to say it is the work of purification. In truth, this stage is that of conquest as well as the second stage in the work of salvation. It is through judgment and chastisement by the word that man arrives at being gained by God, and it is through the use of the word to refine, judge, and disclose that all of the impurities, notions, motives, and individual aspirations within man’s heart are completely revealed. For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of mankind sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even though the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition. … It is not easy for man to become aware of his sins; he has no way of recognizing his own deeply rooted nature, and he must rely on judgment by the word in order to achieve this result. Only thus can man gradually be changed from this point onward.

Excerpted from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The work of the last days is to speak words. Great changes can be effected in man by means of words. The changes now effected in these people upon their accepting these words are much greater than those effected in people upon their accepting the signs and wonders of the Age of Grace. For, in the Age of Grace, the demons were cast out from man with the laying on of hands and prayer, but the corrupt dispositions within man still remained. Man was healed of his sickness and forgiven his sins, but as for just how man was to be purged of the corrupt satanic dispositions within him, this work had yet to be done. Man was only saved and forgiven his sins for his faith, but the sinful nature of man was not extirpated and still remained within him. The sins of man were forgiven through the agency of the incarnate God, but this did not mean that man no longer had sin within him. The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem. The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within his corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation.

Excerpted from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The work of the last days is to separate all according to their kind, and to conclude the management plan of God, for the time is near and the day of God has come. God brings all who enter His kingdom—all who are loyal to Him to the very end—into the age of God Himself. Yet prior to the arrival of the age of God Himself, God’s work is not to observe the deeds of man, or to inquire into the life of man, but to judge man’s disobedience, for God shall purify all those who come before His throne. All who have followed the footsteps of God to this day are those who come before the throne of God, and this being so, every single person who accepts God’s work in its final phase is the object of God’s purification. In other words, everyone who accepts God’s work in its final phase is the object of God’s judgment.

Excerpted from “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

God’s work in the present incarnation is to express His disposition primarily through chastisement and judgment. Building on this foundation, He brings more truth to man and points out to him more ways of practice, thereby achieving His objective of conquering man and saving him from his own corrupt disposition. This is what lies behind the work of God in the Age of Kingdom.

Excerpted from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh

In the last days, Christ 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. These 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 into submission to 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.

Excerpted from “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

God does the work of judgment and chastisement so that man may gain knowledge of Him, and for the sake of His testimony. Without His judgment of man’s corrupt disposition, man could not possibly know His righteous disposition, which brooks no offense, and nor would man be able to turn his old knowledge of God into a new one. For the sake of His testimony, and for the sake of His management, He makes His entirety public, thus enabling man, through His public appearance, to arrive at knowledge of God, to be transformed in his disposition, and to bear resounding testimony to God. The transformation of the disposition of man is achieved through many different kinds of God’s work; without such changes in his disposition, man would be unable to bear testimony to God and to be after God’s heart. The transformation of man’s disposition signifies that man has freed himself from Satan’s bondage and from the influence of darkness, and has truly become a model and specimen of God’s work, a witness of God, and one who is after God’s heart. Today, God incarnate has come to do His work on earth, and He requires that man achieve knowledge of Him, obedience to Him, testimony to Him, to know His practical and normal work, to obey all of His words and work which do not accord with the notions of man, and to bear testimony to all the work He does to save man, as well as all the deeds He accomplishes to conquer man. Those who bear testimony to God must have knowledge of God; only this kind of testimony is accurate and real, and only this kind of testimony can shame Satan. God uses those who have come to know Him through undergoing His judgment and chastisement, dealing and pruning, to bear testimony to Him. He uses those who have been corrupted by Satan to bear testimony to Him, and so too does He use those whose disposition has changed, and who have thus gained His blessings, to bear testimony to Him. He does not need man to praise Him with his mouth, nor does He need the praise and testimony of the ilk of Satan, who have not been saved by Him. Only those who know God are qualified to bear testimony to Him, and only those who have been transformed in their disposition are qualified to bear testimony to Him. God will not allow man intentionally to bring shame upon His name.

Excerpted from “Only Those Who Know God Can Bear Testimony to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

In the Age of Kingdom, God uses words to usher in the new age, to change the means by which He works, and to do the work of the entire age. This is the principle by which God works in the Age of Word. He became flesh to speak from different perspectives, so that man could truly see God, who is the Word appearing in the flesh, and could behold His wisdom and wondrousness. Such work is done in order better to achieve the goals of conquering man, perfecting man, and eliminating man, which is the true meaning of the use of words to work in the Age of Word. Through these words, people come to know the work of God, the disposition of God, the substance of man, and what man ought to enter into. Through words, the work God wishes to do in the Age of Word is brought to fruition in its entirety. Through these words, people are exposed, eliminated, and tried. People have seen God’s words, heard these words, and recognized the existence of these words. As a result, they have come to believe in the existence of God, in the omnipotence and wisdom of God, as well as in God’s love for man and His desire to save man. The word “words” may be simple and ordinary, but the words spoken from the mouth of the incarnate God shake the universe, they transform people’s hearts, transform their notions and old dispositions, and transform the way the whole world used to appear. Through the ages, only the God of today has worked in this way, and only He speaks thus and comes to save man thus. From this time forward, man lives under the guidance of God’s words, shepherded and supplied by His words. People live in the world of God’s words, amid the curses and the blessings of God’s words, and there are even more people who have come to live under the judgment and chastisement of His words. These words and this work are all for the sake of man’s salvation, for the sake of fulfilling God’s will, and for the sake of changing the original appearance of the world of old creation. God created the world using words, He leads people throughout the universe using words, and He conquers and saves them using words. Ultimately, He shall use words to bring the entire world of old to an end, thus completing the entirety of His management plan.

Excerpted from “The Age of Kingdom Is the Age of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

During the Age of Kingdom, God incarnate speaks words to conquer all those who believe in Him. This is “the Word appearing in the flesh”; God has come during the last days to do this work, which is to say, He has come to accomplish the actual significance of the Word appearing in the flesh. He only speaks words, and rarely is there the advent of facts. This is the very essence of the Word appearing in the flesh, and when God incarnate speaks His words, this is the appearance of the Word in the flesh, and is the Word coming into the flesh. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh.” This (the work of the appearance of the Word in the flesh) is the work that God will accomplish in the last days, and is the final chapter of His entire management plan, and so God has to come to earth and manifest His words in the flesh. That which is done today, that which will be done in the future, that which will be accomplished by God, man’s final destination, those who will be saved, those who will be destroyed, and so on—all of this work that should be achieved in the end has all been clearly stated, and is all in order to accomplish the actual significance of the Word appearing in the flesh. The administrative decrees and constitution that were previously issued forth, those who will be destroyed, those who will enter into rest—these words must all be fulfilled. This is the work principally accomplished by God incarnate during the last days. He makes people understand where those predestined by God belong and where those not predestined by God belong, how His people and sons will be classified, what will happen to Israel, what will happen to Egypt—in the future, every one of these words will be accomplished. The pace of God’s work is accelerating. God uses the word as the means to reveal to man what is to be done in every age, what is to be done by God incarnate during the last days, and His ministry that is to be performed, and these words are all in order to accomplish the actual significance of the Word appearing in the flesh.

Excerpted from “All Is Achieved by the Word of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

In the last days, God principally uses the word to make man perfect. He does not use signs and wonders to oppress man, or convince man; this cannot make plain the power of God. If God only showed signs and wonders, then it would be impossible to make plain the reality of God, and thus impossible to make man perfect. God does not make man perfect by signs and wonders, but uses the word to water and shepherd man, after which is achieved the complete obedience of man and man’s knowledge of God. This is the aim of the work He does and the words He speaks. God does not use the method of showing signs and wonders to make man perfect—He uses words, and uses many different methods of work to make man perfect. Whether it be the refinement, dealing, pruning, or provision of words, God speaks from many different perspectives to make man perfect, and to give man a greater knowledge of the work, wisdom and wondrousness of God. … I have previously said that a group of overcomers are gained from the East, overcomers who come from amid the great tribulation. What is meant by these words? They mean that these people who have been gained only truly obeyed after undergoing judgment and chastisement, and dealing and pruning, and all kinds of refinement. The belief of these people is not vague and abstract, but real. They have not seen any signs and wonders, or any miracles; they do not speak of abstruse letters and doctrines, or profound insights; instead they have reality, and the words of God, and a true knowledge of the reality of God. Is such a group not more capable of making plain the power of God?

Excerpted from “All Is Achieved by the Word of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The last days have already arrived. All things in creation will be separated according to their kind, and divided into different categories based on their nature. This is the moment when God reveals humanity’s outcome and their destination. If people do not undergo chastisement and judgment, then there will be no way of exposing their disobedience and unrighteousness. Only through chastisement and judgment can the outcome of all creation be revealed. Man only shows his true colors when he is chastised and judged. Evil shall be put with evil, good with good, and all humanity shall be separated according to their kind. Through chastisement and judgment, the outcome of all creation will be revealed, so that the evil may be punished and the good rewarded, and all people become subject to the dominion of God. All this work must be achieved through righteous chastisement and judgment. Because man’s corruption has reached its peak and his disobedience become exceedingly severe, only God’s righteous disposition, one that is principally compounded of chastisement and judgment and is revealed during the last days, can fully transform and complete man. Only this disposition can expose evil and thus severely punish all the unrighteous.

Excerpted from “The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Those who are able to stand firm during God’s work of judgment and chastisement during the last days—that is, during the final work of purification—will be the ones who will enter into the final rest alongside God; as such, all those who enter into rest will have broken free of Satan’s influence and been obtained by God after having undergone His final work of purification. These humans, who will have been finally obtained by God, will enter into the final rest. The essential purpose of God’s work of chastisement and judgment is to purify humanity and to prepare them for their ultimate rest; without such cleansing, none of humanity could be classified into different categories according to kind, or enter into rest. This work is humanity’s only path to enter into rest. Only God’s work of purification will cleanse humans of their unrighteousness, and only His work of chastisement and judgment will bring to light those disobedient elements of humanity, thereby separating those who can be saved from those who cannot, and those who will remain from those who will not. When this work ends, those people who are allowed to remain will all be cleansed and enter a higher state of humanity in which they will enjoy a more wonderful second human life upon the earth; in other words, they will commence their human day of rest, and coexist with God. After those who are not allowed to remain have been chastised and judged, their true colors will be entirely exposed, after which they will all be destroyed and, like Satan, will no longer be permitted to survive upon the earth. The humanity of the future will no longer include any of this type of people; such people are not fit to enter the land of the ultimate rest, nor are they fit to join in the day of rest that God and humanity will share, for they are the targets of punishment and are wicked, unrighteous people. They were redeemed once, and they have also been judged and chastised; they also once rendered service to God. However, when the final day comes, they will still be eliminated and destroyed due to their wickedness and as a result of their disobedience and inability to be redeemed; they will never again come into being in the world of the future, and will no longer live among the human race of the future. Whether they are spirits of the dead or people still living in the flesh, all evildoers and all those who have not been saved will be destroyed once the holy among humanity enter into rest. As for these evildoing spirits and humans, or the spirits of righteous people and those who do righteousness, regardless of what era they are in, all those who commit evil will ultimately be destroyed, and all those who are righteous will survive. Whether a person or spirit will receive salvation is not entirely decided on the basis of the work of the final age; rather, it is determined by whether or not they have resisted or been disobedient toward God. People in the previous era who committed evil and could not attain salvation will, undoubtedly, be targets for punishment, and those in the current era who commit evil and cannot be saved will surely be targets for punishment, too. Humans are categorized on the basis of good and evil, not by which epoch they live in. Once thus categorized, they will not be punished or rewarded immediately; rather, God will only carry out His work of punishing evil and rewarding good after He has finished carrying out His work of conquest in the last days. Actually, He has been separating humans into good and evil ever since He started doing His work among them. It is just that He will reward the righteous and punish the wicked only after His work has come to an end; it is not that He will separate them into categories upon the completion of His work and then immediately set about the task of punishing evil and rewarding good. The entire purpose behind God’s ultimate work of punishing evil and rewarding good is to thoroughly purify all humans so that He may bring a purely holy humanity into eternal rest. This stage of His work is the most crucial; it is the final stage of the whole of His work of management. If God did not destroy the wicked, but instead allowed them to remain, then every human would still be unable to enter into rest, and God would not be able to bring all of humanity into a better realm. Such work would not be complete. When His work is finished, the whole of humanity will be entirely holy; only in this way will God be able to live in rest peacefully.

Excerpted from “God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Because God created humans, He will make them worship Him; because He wishes to restore humanity’s original function, He will restore it completely and without any adulteration. Restoring His authority means making humans worship Him and submit to Him; it means that God will make humans live because of Him and cause His enemies to perish as a result of His authority. It means that God will cause everything about Him to persist among humans without resistance from anybody. The kingdom God wishes to establish is His own kingdom. The humanity He desires is one that will worship Him, one that will submit to Him completely and manifest His glory. If God does not save corrupt humanity, then the meaning behind His creation of humanity will be lost; He will have no more authority among humans, and His kingdom will no longer be able to exist upon the earth. If God does not destroy those enemies who are disobedient to Him, He will be unable to obtain His complete glory, nor will He be able to establish His kingdom upon the earth. These will be marks of the completion of His work and of His great accomplishment: to utterly destroy those among humanity who are disobedient to Him, and to bring into rest those who have been made complete.

Excerpted from “God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

As My words are consummated, the kingdom is gradually formed on earth and man is gradually returned to normality, and thus there is established on earth the kingdom in My heart. In the kingdom, all the people of God recover the life of normal man. Gone is the frosty winter, replaced by a world of cities of spring, where spring lasts all year. No longer are people faced with the gloomy, miserable world of man, and no longer do they endure the cold chill of the world of man. People do not fight with each other, countries do not go to war against each other, no longer is there carnage and the blood that flows from carnage; all lands are filled with happiness, and everywhere teems with warmth between men. I move throughout the world, I enjoy from atop My throne, and I live among the stars. The angels offer unto Me new songs and new dances. No longer does their own fragility cause tears to run down their faces. No longer do I hear, before Me, the sound of the angels weeping, and no longer does anyone complain of hardship to Me. Today, you all live before Me; tomorrow, you will all exist in My kingdom. Is this not the greatest blessing that I bestow upon man?

Excerpted from “Chapter 20” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh

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Next: 3. The relationship between all the three stages of God’s work

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3. The nature and consequences of the problem of acknowledging God alone without acknowledging the truth

Those who wish to gain life without relying on the truth spoken by Christ are the most ridiculous people on earth, and those who do not accept the way of life brought by Christ are lost in fantasy. And so I say that the people who do not accept Christ of the last days shall forever be despised by God. Christ is man’s gateway to the kingdom during the last days, which none may bypass. None may be perfected by God except through Christ

2. What truth reality is, and what Biblical knowledge and doctrine are

Those who only care about the words of the Bible, who are unconcerned about the truth or seeking My footsteps—they are against Me, for they limit Me according to the Bible, and constrain Me within the Bible, and so are blasphemous in the extreme toward Me. How could such people come before Me? They pay no heed to My deeds, or My will, or the truth, but instead obsess over words, words that kill. How could such people be compatible with Me?

2. The aim and significance of God incarnating in China to do work in the last days

During the last days, God is incarnate in the Gentile nation of the great red dragon; He has accomplished the work of God as the God of all creation; He has completed the whole of His management work, and He will end the central part of His work in the nation of the great red dragon. ...the Chinese are able to represent the whole of mankind in accepting the personal conquest of the incarnate God. ...and nothing reveals the thoroughness and success of the work of conquest more than the work of conquest among Chinese people.

5. The consequences and outcome of not accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days

Do you understand now what is judgment and what is truth? If you have understood, then I exhort you to submit obediently to being judged, otherwise you shall never have the opportunity to be commended by God or to be brought by Him into His kingdom. ...He will not repeat the work of judgment again for the sake of your “merit,”...The entire religious world will immediately be left desolate, and neglected by all; they lack reality, and they will realize that their belief in God is vague and abstract.

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