Chapter 6 Several Forms of Differentiation That You Should Possess in Your Belief in God
1. Differentiation Between the Work of God and That of Man
Relevant Words of God:
The work of God Himself involves the work of all of mankind, and it also represents the work of the entire era. That is to say, God’s own work represents the movement and trend of all of the work of the Holy Spirit, whereas the work of the apostles follows God’s own work and does not lead the era, nor does it represent the working trend of the Holy Spirit in the entire era. They only do the work man ought to do, which does not at all involve the management work. God’s own work is the project within the management work. Man’s work is only the duty of men being used and bears no relation to the management work. Due to different identities and representations of the work, despite the fact that they are both the work of the Holy Spirit, there are clear and substantive differences between God’s own work and the work of man. Moreover, the extent of the work done by the Holy Spirit on work objects with different identities varies. These are the principles and scope of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The work that God Himself does is entirely the work He intends to do in His own management plan and pertains to the great management. The work done by men (that is, men used by the Holy Spirit) consists of supplying their individual experience. It consists of finding out a new path of experience beyond that trodden by those who have gone before, and of guiding their brothers and sisters while under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. What these men supply is their individual experience or the spiritual writings of spiritual men. Although these men are used by the Holy Spirit, the work they do is unrelated to the great work of management in the six-thousand-year plan. They are merely men who have been raised up by the Holy Spirit in different periods to lead the people in the stream of the Holy Spirit, until the functions they can perform are at an end or until their lives come to an end. The work they do is only to prepare an appropriate path for God Himself or to continue a certain aspect of the management of God Himself on earth. In themselves, these men are unable to do the greater work in His management, nor can they open up new ways out, even less can any of them bring to a conclusion all of God’s work from the former age. Therefore, the work they do represents only a created being performing his function, and cannot represent God Himself performing His ministry. This is because the work they do is unlike that done by God Himself. The work of ushering in a new age is not something that can be done by man in God’s place. It cannot be done by any other than God Himself. All the work done by man consists of performing his duty as a created being and is done when moved or enlightened by the Holy Spirit. The guidance that these men provide consists entirely of showing man the path of practice in daily life and how he should act in harmony with the will of God. The work of man neither involves the management of God nor represents the work of the Spirit. As an example, the work of Witness Lee and Watchman Nee was to lead the way. Be the way new or old, the work was premised upon the principle of remaining within the Bible. Whether it was to restore the local church or build the local church, their work had to do with establishing churches. The work they did carried on the work that Jesus and His apostles had left unfinished or had not further developed in the Age of Grace. What they did in their work was to restore what Jesus had in His early work asked of the generations coming after Him, such as keeping their heads covered, receiving baptism, breaking bread, or drinking wine. It could be said that their work was to keep to the Bible and to seek paths within the Bible. They made no new advances of any kind. Therefore, one can see in their work only the discovery of new ways within the Bible, as well as better and more realistic practices. But one cannot find in their work the present will of God, much less find the new work that God in the last days plans to do. This is because the path they walked was still an old one; there was no renewal and no advancement. They continued to hold onto the fact of the crucifixion of Jesus, to observe the practice of asking people to repent and confess their sins, to adhere to the sayings that he who endures to the end shall be saved and that man is the head of woman, and woman must obey her husband, and even more to the traditional conception that sisters cannot preach, but only obey. If such manner of leadership had continued to be observed, the Holy Spirit would never have been able to carry out new work, to set men free from doctrine, or to lead them into a realm of freedom and beauty. Therefore, this stage of work, which changes the age, must be done and spoken by God Himself; otherwise no man can do so in His stead. Thus far, all the work of the Holy Spirit outside of this stream has come to a standstill, and those who were used by the Holy Spirit have lost their bearings. Therefore, since the work of the men used by the Holy Spirit is unlike the work done by God Himself, their identities and the subjects on behalf of whom they act are likewise different. This is because the work the Holy Spirit intends to do is different, and on this account those who alike do work are accorded different identities and statuses. The men used by the Holy Spirit may also do some work that is new and may also eliminate some work done in the former age, but what they do cannot express the disposition and the will of God in the new age. They work only to do away with the work of the former age, and not in order to do new work for the purpose of directly representing the disposition of God Himself. Thus, no matter how many outdated practices they abolish or how many new practices they introduce, they still represent man and created beings. Whereas, when God Himself carries out work, He does not openly declare the abolishment of the practices of the old age or directly declare the commencement of a new age. He is direct and straightforward in His work. He is forthright in performing the work He intends; that is, He directly expresses the work that He has brought about, directly does His work as originally intended, expressing His being and disposition. As man sees it, His disposition and so too His work differ from those in ages past. However, from the perspective of God Himself, this is merely a continuation and further development of His work. When God Himself works, He expresses His word and directly brings the new work. In contrast, when man works, it is through deliberation and study, or it is an extension of knowledge and systematization of practice founded on the work of others. That is to say, the essence of the work done by man is to follow an established order and to “walk old paths in new shoes.” This means that even the path walked by the men used by the Holy Spirit is built upon that opened up by God Himself. So, when all is said and done, man is still man, and God is still God.
Excerpted from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In the Age of Grace, Jesus also spoke many words and did much work. How was He different from Isaiah? How was He different from Daniel? Was He a prophet? Why is it said that He is Christ? What are the differences between them? They were all men who spoke words, and their words appeared more or less the same to man. They all spoke words and did work. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke prophecies, and similarly, so could Jesus. Why is this so? The distinction here is based on the nature of the work. To discern this matter, you must not consider the nature of the flesh, nor should you consider the depth or superficiality of their words. Always you must first consider their work and the effects their work achieves in man. The prophecies spoken by the prophets at the time did not supply the life of man, and the inspirations received by those such as Isaiah and Daniel were merely prophecies, and not the way of life. If not for the direct revelation of Jehovah, none could have done that work, which is not possible for mortals. Jesus, too, spoke many words, but such words were the way of life from which man could find a path to practice. That is to say, first, He could supply the life of man, for Jesus is life; second, He could reverse the deviations of man; third, His work could succeed that of Jehovah in order to carry on the age; fourth, He could grasp the needs within man and understand what man lacks; fifth, He could usher in a new age and conclude the old. That is why He is called God and Christ; not only is He different from Isaiah but also from all other prophets. Take Isaiah as a comparison for the work of the prophets. First, he could not supply the life of man; second, he could not usher in a new age. He was working under the leadership of Jehovah and not to usher in a new age. Third, the words he spoke were beyond him. He was receiving revelations directly from the Spirit of God, and others would not understand, even having listened to them. These few things alone are sufficient to prove that his words were no more than prophecies, no more than an aspect of work done in Jehovah’s stead. He could not, however, completely represent Jehovah. He was Jehovah’s servant, an instrument in Jehovah’s work. He was only doing work within the Age of Law and within the scope of the work of Jehovah; he did not work beyond the Age of Law. On the contrary, the work of Jesus differed. He surpassed the scope of Jehovah’s work; He worked as God incarnate and underwent crucifixion in order to redeem all mankind. That is to say, He carried out new work outside of the work done by Jehovah. This was the ushering in of a new age. In addition, He was able to speak of that which man could not achieve. His work was work within the management of God and involved the whole of mankind. He did not work in just a few men, nor was His work meant to lead a limited number of men. As for how God was incarnated as a man, how the Spirit gave revelations at that time, and how the Spirit descended upon a man to do work—these are matters that man cannot see or touch. It is utterly impossible for these truths to serve as proof that He is God incarnate. As such, distinction can only be made among the words and work of God, which are tangible to man. Only this is real. This is because matters of the Spirit are not visible to you and are known clearly only by God Himself, and not even God’s incarnate flesh knows all; you can only verify whether He is God from the work He has done. From His work, it can be seen that, first, He is able to open up a new age; second, He is able to supply the life of man and show man the way to follow. This is sufficient to establish that He is God Himself. At the very least, the work He does can fully represent the Spirit of God, and from such work it can be seen that the Spirit of God is within Him. As the work done by God incarnate was mainly to usher in a new age, lead new work, and open up a new realm, these alone are sufficient to establish that He is God Himself. This thus differentiates Him from Isaiah, Daniel, and the other great prophets.
Excerpted from “The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
You have to know how to differentiate God’s work from the work of man. What can you see from the work of man? There are a lot of elements of man’s experience in the work of man; what man expresses is what he is. God’s own work also expresses what He is, but what He is is different from what man is. What man is is representative of man’s experience and life (what man experiences or encounters in his life, or life philosophies that he has), and people living in different environments express different beings. Whether or not you have social experiences and how you actually live and experience in your family can be seen in what you express, whereas you cannot see from the work of God incarnate whether or not He has social experiences. He is well aware of the essence of man, He can reveal all kinds of practices pertaining to all kinds of people. He is even better at revealing human corrupt disposition and rebellious behavior. He does not live among the worldly people, but He is aware of the nature of the mortals and all the corruptions of the worldly people. This is what He is. Though He does not deal with the world, He knows the rules of dealing with the world, because He fully understands human nature. He knows about the Spirit’s work that man’s eyes cannot see and that man’s ears cannot hear, both of today and of the past. This includes wisdom that is not a life philosophy and wonder that people find hard to fathom. This is what He is, made open to people and also hidden from people. What He expresses is not what an extraordinary person is, but the inherent attributes and being of the Spirit. He does not travel around the world but knows everything of it. He contacts the “anthropoids” who have no knowledge or insight, but He expresses words that are higher than knowledge and above great men. He lives among a group of obtuse and numb people who do not have humanity and who do not understand the human conventions and lives, but He can ask mankind to live out normal humanity, at the same time revealing the base and low humanity of mankind. All of this are what He is, higher than what any flesh-and-blood person is. For Him, it is unnecessary to experience a complicated, cumbersome and sordid social life to do the work that He needs to do and thoroughly reveal the essence of corrupt mankind. The sordid social life does not edify His flesh. His work and words only reveal man’s disobedience and do not provide man with the experience and lessons for dealing with the world. He does not need to investigate society or man’s family when He supplies man with life. Exposing and judging man is not an expression of the experiences of His flesh; it is to reveal man’s unrighteousness after long knowing man’s disobedience and abhorring mankind’s corruption. The work He does is all to reveal His disposition to man and express His being. Only He can do this work, it is not something that a flesh-and-blood person could achieve.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The work that God does does not represent the experience of His flesh; the work that man does represents man’s experience. Everyone talks about his personal experience. God can directly express the truth, while man can only express the corresponding experience after experiencing the truth. God’s work has no rules and is not subject to time or geographical constraints. He can express what He is at anytime, anywhere. He works as He pleases. Man’s work has conditions and context; otherwise, he is unable to work and unable to express his knowledge of God or his experience of the truth. You just have to compare the differences between them to tell whether it is God’s own work or man’s work.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
God becomes flesh solely to lead the age and set in motion new work. It is necessary for you to understand this point. This is much different from the function of man, and the two cannot be mentioned in the same breath. Man needs to be cultivated and perfected over a long period before he can be used to carry out work, and the kind of humanity that is needed is of an especially high order. Not only must man be able to sustain his normal human power of reasoning, but he must further understand many of the principles and rules governing his conduct in relation to others, and he must moreover commit to studying even more about the wisdom and ethical knowledge of man. This is what man should be furnished with. However, this is not so for God become flesh, for His work neither represents man nor is the work of man; it is, rather, a direct expression of His being and a direct implementation of the work that He ought to do. (Naturally, His work is carried out at the appropriate time, and not casually and at random, and is begun when it is time to fulfill His ministry.) He does not take part in the life of man or the work of man, that is, His humanity is not furnished with any of these (although this does not affect His work). He only fulfills His ministry when it is time for Him to do so; whatever His status, He simply forges ahead with the work that He ought to do. Whatever man knows of Him and whatever man’s opinion of Him, His work is wholly unaffected.
Excerpted from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The work of man has a range and limitations. One person is only able to do work of a certain phase and cannot do the work of the entire era—otherwise, he would lead people into rules. The work of man can only be applicable to a particular time or phase. This is because man’s experience has a scope. One cannot compare the work of man with the work of God. Man’s ways of practice and his knowledge of the truth are all applicable to a particular scope. You cannot say that the path that man treads is completely the will of the Holy Spirit, because man can only be enlightened by the Holy Spirit and cannot be completely filled with the Holy Spirit. The things that man can experience are all within the scope of normal humanity and cannot exceed the range of thoughts in the normal human mind. All those with practical expression experience within this range. When they experience the truth, it is always an experience of normal human life under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, not experiencing in a way which deviates from normal human life. They experience the truth enlightened by the Holy Spirit on the foundation of living their human life. Moreover, this truth varies from person to person, and the depth of it is related to the state of the person. One can only say that the path they walk is the normal human life of a man pursuing the truth, and that it is the path walked by a normal person who has the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. You cannot say that the path they tread is the path taken by the Holy Spirit. In the normal human experience, because the people who pursue are not the same, the work of the Holy Spirit is also not the same. In addition, because the environments they experience and the ranges of their experience are not the same, because of the mixture of their mind and thoughts, their experience is mixed to different degrees. Each person understands a truth according to their individual different conditions. Their understanding of the real meaning of the truth is not complete and is only one or a few aspects of it. The scope by which the truth is experienced by man is always based on the different conditions of individuals and is therefore not the same. In this way, the knowledge expressed of the same truth by different people is not the same. That is to say, man’s experience always has limitations and cannot completely represent the will of the Holy Spirit, and the work of man cannot be perceived as the work of God, even if what is expressed by man corresponds very closely to God’s will, even if the experience of man is very close to the perfecting work to be performed by the Holy Spirit. Man can only be God’s servant, doing the work that God entrusts to him. Man can only express the knowledge under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and the truths gained from his personal experiences. Man is unqualified and does not have the conditions to be the outlet of the Holy Spirit. He is not entitled to say that man’s work is the work of God. Man has man’s working principles, and all men have different experiences and possess varying conditions. Man’s work includes all his experiences under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. These experiences can only represent man’s being and do not represent the being of God or the will of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the path walked by man cannot be said to be the path walked by the Holy Spirit because the work of man cannot represent the work of God and man’s work and man’s experience are not the complete will of the Holy Spirit. Man’s work is prone to falling into a rule, and the method of his work is easily confined to a limited scope and is unable to lead people into a free way. Most followers live within a limited scope, and their way of experiencing is also limited in its scope. Man’s experience is always limited; the method of his work is also limited to a few types and cannot be compared with the work of the Holy Spirit or the work of God Himself—this is because man’s experience, in the end, is limited. However God does His work, there are no rules to it; however it is done, it is not limited to one way. There are no rules whatsoever to God’s work, all His work is released freely. No matter how much time man spends following Him, they cannot sum up any laws of the ways of His working. Although His work is principled, it is always done in new ways and always has new developments, which is beyond man’s reach. During one period of time, God may have several different types of work and different ways of leading, allowing people to always have new entries and new changes. You cannot find out the laws of His work because He is always working in new ways. Only in this way do followers of God not fall into rules. The work of God Himself always avoids the notions of people and counters their notions. Only those who follow and pursue Him with a true heart can have their dispositions transformed and are able to live freely without being subject to any rules or restrained by any religious notions. The demands that the work of man makes of people are based on his own experience and what he himself can achieve. The standard of these requirements is limited within a certain scope, and the methods of practice are also very limited. Followers thus unconsciously live within this limited scope; as time passes, they become rules and rituals. If the work of one period is led by a person who has not undergone God’s personal perfecting and not received judgment, his followers will all become religionists and experts in resisting God. Therefore, if someone is a qualified leader, the person must have undergone judgment and accepted perfecting. Those who have not undergone judgment, even though they may have the work of the Holy Spirit, express only vague and unreal things. With time, they will lead people into vague and supernatural rules. The work that God performs does not accord with the flesh of man; it does not accord with man’s thoughts but counters man’s notions; it is not mixed with vague religious color. The results of His work cannot be achieved by a man who has not been perfected by Him and are beyond the reach of man’s thinking.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh