Concerning the Bible (1)
How should the Bible be approached in the belief in God? This is a question of principle. Why are we communing this question? Because in the future you will spread the gospel and widen the work of the Age of Kingdom, and it’s not enough to merely be able to talk of God’s work today. To broaden His work, it is more important that you are able to resolve people’s old religious conceptions and old means of belief, and leave them utterly convinced—and getting to that point involves the Bible. For many years, people’s traditional means of belief (that of Christianity, one of the world’s three major religions) has been to read the Bible; departure from the Bible is not the belief in the Lord, departure from the Bible is heterodoxy and heresy, and even when people read other books, the foundation of these books must be the explanation of the Bible. Which is to say, if you say you believe in the Lord, then you must read the Bible, you must eat and drink the Bible, and outside the Bible you must not worship any book that does not involve the Bible. If you do, then you are betraying God. From the time when there was the Bible, people’s belief in the Lord has been the belief in the Bible. Instead of saying people believe in the Lord, it is better to say they believe in the Bible; rather than saying they have begun reading the Bible, it is better to say they have begun believing in the Bible; and rather than saying they have returned before the Lord, it would be better to say they have returned before the Bible. In this way, people worship the Bible as if it were God, as if it were their lifeblood and losing it would be the same as losing their life. People see the Bible as being as high as God, and there are even those who see it as higher than God. If people are without the work of the Holy Spirit, if they cannot feel God, they can carry on living—but as soon as they lose the Bible, or lose the famous chapters and sayings from the Bible, then it is as if they have lost their life. And so, as soon as people believe in the Lord they begin reading the Bible, and memorizing the Bible, and the more of the Bible they are able to memorize, the more this proves that they love the Lord and are of great faith. Those who have read the Bible and can speak of it to others are all good brothers and sisters. For all these years, people’s faith and loyalty to the Lord has been measured according to the extent of their understanding of the Bible. Most people simply don’t understand why they should believe in God, nor how to believe in God, and do nothing but search blindly for clues to decipher the chapters of the Bible. People have never pursued the direction of the work of the Holy Spirit; all along, they have done nothing but desperately study and investigate the Bible, and no one has ever found newer work of the Holy Spirit outside of the Bible, no one has ever departed from the Bible, nor have they ever dared to depart from the Bible. People have studied the Bible for all these years, they have come up with so many explanations, and put in so much work; they also have many differences of opinion about the Bible, which they debate endlessly, such that over two thousand different denominations have been formed today. They all want to find some special explanations, or more profound mysteries in the Bible, they want to explore it, and to find in it the background to Jehovah’s work in Israel, or the background to Jesus’ work in Judea, or more mysteries that no one else knows. People’s approach to the Bible is one of obsession and faith, and no one can be completely clear about the inside story or substance of the Bible. So, today people still have an indescribable sense of magicalness when it comes to the Bible; even more than that, they are obsessed with it, and have faith in it. Today, everyone wants to find the prophecies of the work of the last days in the Bible, they want to discover what work God does during the last days, and what signs there are for the last days. In this way, their worship of the Bible becomes more fervent, and the closer it gets to the last days, the more credence they give to the prophecies of the Bible, particularly those about the last days. With such blind belief in the Bible, with such trust in the Bible, they have no desire to seek the work of the Holy Spirit. In people’s conceptions, they think that only the Bible can bring the work of the Holy Spirit; only in the Bible can they find the footsteps of God; only in the Bible are hidden the mysteries of God’s work; only the Bible—not other books or people—can clarify everything of God and the entirety of His work; the Bible can bring the work of heaven to earth; and the Bible can both begin and conclude the ages. With these conceptions, people have no inclination to search for the work of the Holy Spirit. So, regardless of how much of a help the Bible was to people in the past, it has become an obstacle to God’s latest work. Without the Bible, people can search for the footsteps of God elsewhere, yet today, His footsteps have been contained by the Bible, and extending His latest work has become double difficult, and an uphill struggle. This is all because of the famous chapters and sayings from the Bible, as well as the various prophecies of the Bible. The Bible has become an idol in people’s minds, it has become a puzzle in their brains, and they are simply incapable of believing that God can work exclusive of the Bible, they are incapable of believing that people can find God outside of the Bible, much less are they able to believe that God could depart from the Bible during the final work and start anew. This is unthinkable to people; they can’t believe it, and neither can they imagine it. The Bible has become a great obstacle to people’s acceptance of God’s new work, and a difficulty to God’s broadening this new work. Thus, if you don’t understand the inside story of the Bible, you will be unable to successfully spread the gospel, nor will you be able to bear testimony to the new work. Although, today, you do not read the Bible, you are still extremely amiable toward it, which is to say, the Bible might not be in your hands, but many of your conceptions come from it. You don’t understand the origins of the Bible or the inside story about the previous two stages of God’s work. Although you do not eat and drink the Bible, you must understand the Bible, you must achieve the correct knowledge of the Bible, and only in this way will you be able to know what God’s 6,000-year management plan is all about. You will use these things to win people over, to make them acknowledge that this stream is the true way, to make them acknowledge that the path you walk today is the path of truth, that it is guided by the Holy Spirit, and has not been opened up by any human.
Prior to the Age of Grace people read the Bible, but at that time there was only the Old Testament; there was no New Testament. Since there was the Old Testament of the Bible, people began reading the holy scriptures. After Jehovah’s guidance of him had finished, Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, and Deuteronomy…. He recalled Jehovah’s work at the time, and wrote it down. The Bible is a book of history. Of course, it also contains some of the foretellings of prophets, and these foretellings are by no means history. The Bible includes several parts—there is not just prophecy, or only the work of Jehovah, nor are there only the Pauline epistles. You must know how many parts the Bible includes; the Old Testament contains Genesis, Exodus…, and there are also the books of prophecy that the prophets wrote. At the end, the Old Testament finishes with the Book of Malachi. It records the work of the Age of Law, which was led by Jehovah; from Genesis to the Book of Malachi, it is a comprehensive record of all the work of the Age of Law. Which is to say, the Old Testament records all that was experienced by the people who were guided by Jehovah in the Age of Law. During the Old Testament Age of Law, the great number of prophets raised up by Jehovah spoke prophecy for Him, they gave instructions to various tribes and nations, and foretold the work that Jehovah would do. These people who had been raised up had all been given the Spirit of prophecy by Jehovah: They were able to see the visions from Jehovah, and hear His voice, and thus they were inspired by Him and wrote prophecy. The work they did was the expression of the voice of Jehovah, it was the work of prophecy that they did on behalf of Jehovah, and Jehovah’s work at the time was simply to guide people using the Spirit; He did not become flesh, and people saw nothing of His face. Thus, He raised up many prophets to do His work, and gave them oracles that they passed on to every tribe and clan of Israel. Their work was to speak prophecy, and some of them wrote down Jehovah’s instructions to them to show to others. Jehovah raised these people up to speak prophecy, to foretell the work of the future or the work still to be done during that time, so that people could behold the wondrousness and wisdom of Jehovah. These books of prophecy were quite different from the other books of the Bible; they were words spoken or written by those who had been given the Spirit of prophecy—by those who had gained the visions or voice from Jehovah. Apart from the books of prophecy, everything else in the Old Testament is records made by people after Jehovah had finished His work. These books can’t stand in for the foretellings spoken by the prophets raised up by Jehovah, just as Genesis and Exodus can’t be compared to the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Daniel. The prophecies were spoken before the work had been carried out; the other books, meanwhile, were written after it had been finished, which was what people were capable of. The prophets of that time were inspired by Jehovah and spoke some prophecy, they spoke many words, and they prophesied the things of the Age of Grace, as well as the destruction of the world in the last days—the work that Jehovah planned to do. The remaining books all record the work done by Jehovah in Israel. Thus, when you read the Bible, you’re mainly reading about what Jehovah did in Israel; the Bible’s Old Testament primarily records Jehovah’s work of guiding Israel, His use of Moses to guide the Israelites out of Egypt, who rid them of the Pharaoh’s shackles, and took them out into the wild, after which they entered Canaan and everything following this was their life in Canaan. All apart from this is records of Jehovah’s work throughout Israel. Everything recorded in the Old Testament is Jehovah’s work in Israel, it is the work Jehovah did in the land in which He made Adam and Eve. From when God officially began to lead the people on earth after Noah, all that is recorded in the Old Testament is the work of Israel. And why is there not recorded any work beyond Israel? Because the land of Israel is the cradle of mankind. In the beginning, there were no other countries apart from Israel, and Jehovah did not work in any other places. In this way, what is recorded in the Bible is purely the work in Israel at that time. The words spoken by the prophets, by Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel … their words foretell His other work on earth, they foretell the work of Jehovah God Himself. All this came from God, it was the work of the Holy Spirit, and apart from these books of the prophets, everything else is a record of people’s experiences of Jehovah’s work at the time.
The work of creation happened before there was mankind, but the Book of Genesis only came after there was mankind; it was a book written by Moses during the Age of Law. It’s like the things that happen among you today: After they happen, you write them down to show to people in the future, and for the people of the future, what you recorded are things that happened in times past—they are nothing more than history. The things recorded in the Old Testament are Jehovah’s work in Israel, and that which is recorded in the New Testament is the work of Jesus during the Age of Grace; they document the work done by God in two different ages. The Old Testament documents the work of God during the Age of Law, and thus the Old Testament is a historical book, while the New Testament is the product of the work of the Age of Grace. When the new work began, it also became out of date—and thus, the New Testament is also a historical book. Of course, the New Testament is not as systematic as the Old Testament, nor does it record as many things. All of the many words spoken by Jehovah of the Old Testament are recorded in the Bible, whereas only some of the words of Jesus are recorded in the Four Gospels. Of course, Jesus also did a lot of work, but it wasn’t recorded in detail. That less is recorded in the New Testament is because of how much work Jesus did; the amount of His work during three-and-a-half years on earth and that of the apostles was far less than the work of Jehovah. And thus, there are less books in the New Testament than the Old Testament.
What kind of book is the Bible? The Old Testament is the work of God during the Age of Law. The Old Testament of the Bible records all the work of Jehovah during the Age of Law and His work of creation. All of it records the work done by Jehovah, and it ultimately ends the accounts of Jehovah’s work with the Book of Malachi. The Old Testament records two pieces of work done by God: One is the work of the creation, and one is decreeing of the law. Both were the work done by Jehovah. The Age of Law represents the work under the name of Jehovah God; it is the entirety of the work carried out primarily under the name of Jehovah. Thus, the Old Testament records the work of Jehovah, and the New Testament records the work of Jesus, work which was carried out primarily under the name of Jesus. The significance of Jesus’ name and the work He did are mostly recorded in the New Testament. During the Old Testament Age of Law, Jehovah built the temple and the altar in Israel, He guided the life of the Israelites on earth, proving that they were His chosen people, the first group of people that He selected on earth and who were after His own heart, the first group that He had personally led; which is to say, the twelve tribes of Israel were Jehovah’s first chosen ones, and so He always worked in them, right up until the work of Jehovah of the Age of Law was concluded. The second stage of work was the work of the Age of Grace of the New Testament, and it was carried out among the tribe of Judah, one of the twelve tribes of Israel. That the scope of the work was smaller was because Jesus was God become flesh. Jesus worked only throughout the land of Judea, and only did three-and-a-half years of work; thus, what is recorded in the New Testament is far from able to surpass the amount of work recorded in the Old Testament. The work of Jesus of the Age of Grace is primarily recorded in the Four Gospels. The path walked by the people of the Age of Grace was that of the most superficial changes in their life disposition, most of which is recorded in the epistles. The epistles show how the Holy Spirit worked at the time. (Of course, regardless of whether Paul was chastised or struck by misfortune, in the work he did he was instructed by the Holy Spirit, he was someone used by the Holy Spirit at the time; Peter, too, was used by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t do as much work as Paul. Though the work of Paul contained the impurities of man, from the epistles written by Paul it can be seen how the Holy Spirit worked at the time; the path Paul led was the right one, it was correct, and it was the path of the Holy Spirit.)
If you wish to see the work of the Age of Law, and to see how the Israelites followed the way of Jehovah, then you must read the Old Testament; if you wish to understand the work of the Age of Grace, then you must read the New Testament. But how do you see the work of the last days? You must accept the leadership of the God of today, and enter into the work of today, for this is the new work, and no one has previously recorded it in the Bible. Today, God has become flesh and selected other chosen ones in China. God works in these people, He continues on from His work on earth, continues on from the work of the Age of Grace. The work of today is a path that man has never walked, and a way that no one has ever seen. It is work that has never been done before—it is God’s latest work on earth. Thus, work that has never been done before is not history, because now is now, and has yet to become the past. People don’t know that God has done greater, newer work on earth, and outside of Israel, that it has already gone beyond the scope of Israel, and beyond the foretellings of the prophets, that it is new and marvelous work outside of the prophecies, and newer work beyond Israel, and work that people can neither perceive nor imagine. How could the Bible contain explicit records of such work? Who could have recorded every single bit of today’s work, without omission, in advance? Who could record this mightier, wiser work that defies convention in the moldy old book? The work of today is not history, and as such, if you wish to walk the new path of today, then you must depart from the Bible, you must go beyond the books of prophecy or history in the Bible. Only then will you be able to walk the new path properly, and only then will you be able to enter into the new realm and the new work. You must understand why, today, you are asked not to read the Bible, why there is another work that is separate from the Bible, why God does not look for newer, more detailed practice in the Bible, why there is instead mightier work outside of the Bible. This is all what you should understand. You must know the difference between the old and new work, and even though you do not read the Bible, you must be able to dissect it; if not, you will still worship the Bible, and it will be difficult for you to enter into the new work and undergo new changes. Since there is a higher way, why study that low, outdated way? Since there are newer utterances, and newer work, why live amid old historical records? The new utterances can provide for you, which proves that this is the new work; the old records can’t sate you, or satisfy your current needs, which proves that they are history, and not the work of the here and now. The highest way is the newest work, and with the new work, no matter how high the way of the past, it is still the history of people’s reflections, and no matter its value as reference, it is still the old way. Even though it is recorded in the “holy book,” the old way is history; even though there is no record of it in the “holy book,” the new way is of the here and now. This way can save you, and this way can change you, for this is the work of the Holy Spirit.
You must understand the Bible—this work is of the utmost necessity! Today, you need not read the Bible, for there is nothing new in it; it is all old. The Bible is a historical book, and if you had eaten and drunk the Old Testament during the Age of Grace—if you had put into practice what was required in the time of the Old Testament during the Age of Grace—Jesus would have rejected you, and condemned you; if you had applied the Old Testament to the work of Jesus, you would have been a Pharisee. If, today, you put the Old and New Testament together to eat and drink, and practice, then the God of today will condemn you; you will have fallen behind the Holy Spirit’s work of today! If you eat and drink the Old Testament and the New Testament, then you are outside the stream of the Holy Spirit! During the time of Jesus, Jesus led the Jews and all those who followed Him according to the Holy Spirit’s work in Him at the time. He didn’t take the Bible as the basis of what He did, but spoke according to His work; He paid no heed to what the Bible said, nor did He search in the Bible for a path to lead His followers. Right from when He began to work, He spread the way of repentance—a word of which there was absolutely no mention in the prophecies of the Old Testament. Not only did He not act according to the Bible, but He also led a new path, and did new work. Never did He refer to the Bible when He preached. During the Age of Law, no one had ever been able to perform His miracles of healing the sick and casting out demons. So, too, were His work, His teachings, and the authority and power of His words beyond any man during the Age of Law. Jesus simply did His newer work, and even though many people condemned Him using the Bible—and even used the Old Testament to crucify Him—His work surpassed the Old Testament; if this were not so, why did people nail Him to the cross? Was it not because it said nothing in the Old Testament of His teaching, and His ability to heal the sick and cast out demons? His work was in order to lead a new path, it was not to deliberately pick a fight against the Bible, or to deliberately dispense with the Old Testament. He simply came to perform His ministry, to bring the new work to those who yearned for and sought Him. He didn’t come to explain the Old Testament or uphold its work. His work was not in order to allow the Age of Law to continue developing, for His work gave no consideration to whether it had the Bible as its base; Jesus simply came to do the work that He ought to do. Thus, He did not explain the prophecies of the Old Testament, nor did He work according to the words of the Old Testament Age of Law. He ignored what the Old Testament said, He cared not whether it agreed with His work or not, and cared not what others knew of His work, or how they condemned it. He simply kept doing the work that He ought to do, even though many people used the foretellings of the prophets of the Old Testament to condemn Him. To people, it appeared as if His work had no basis, and there was much of it that was at odds with the records of the Old Testament. Is this not folly? Does doctrine need to be applied to the work of God? And must it be according to the foretellings of prophets? After all, which is greater: God or the Bible? Why must God’s work be according to the Bible? Could it be that God has no right to exceed the Bible? Can God not depart from the Bible and do other work? Why did Jesus and His disciples not keep the Sabbath? If He were to keep the Sabbath and practice according to the commandments of the Old Testament, why did Jesus not keep the Sabbath after He came, but instead washed feet, covered head, broke bread, and drank wine? Isn’t this all absent from the commandments of the Old Testament? If Jesus honored the Old Testament, why did He defy these doctrines? You should know which came first, God or the Bible! Being the Lord of the Sabbath, could He not also be the Lord of the Bible?
The work done by Jesus during the time of the New Testament opened up new work: He did not work according to the work of the Old Testament, nor did He apply the words spoken by Jehovah of the Old Testament. He did His own work, and He did newer work, and work that was higher than the law. Thus, He said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Thus, in accordance with what He accomplished, much doctrine was broken with. On the Sabbath when He took the disciples through the grain fields, they picked and ate the heads of grain; He did not keep the Sabbath, and said “the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” At the time, according to the rules of the Israelites, whosoever didn’t keep the Sabbath would be stoned to death. Jesus, however, neither entered the temple nor kept the Sabbath, and His work had not been done by Jehovah during the time of the Old Testament. Thus, the work done by Jesus exceeded the law of the Old Testament, it was higher than it, and was not in accordance with it. During the Age of Grace, Jesus did not work according to the law of the Old Testament, He had defied those doctrines. Today there are still people who adhere to the Bible, and the law of the Old Testament in particular—does this not deny the work of Jesus? Some people say, “The Bible is a holy book, and it must be read.” Some people say, “God’s work must be upheld forever, the Old Testament is God’s covenant with the Israelites, and cannot be dispensed with, and the Sabbath must always be kept!” Are they not ridiculous? Why didn’t Jesus keep the Sabbath? Was He sinning? Who can see through to such things? No matter how you read the Bible, it will be impossible to know the work of God using man’s powers of comprehension. Not only will you not gain a pure knowledge of God, but your conceptions will become ever more egregious, such that you begin to oppose God. If it were not for the incarnation of God today, people would be ruined by their own conceptions, and they would die amid God’s chastisement.