Concerning the Bible (4)
Many people believe that understanding and being able to interpret the Bible is the same as finding the true way—but in fact, are things really so simple? No one knows the reality of the Bible: that it is nothing more than a historical record of God’s work, and a testament to the previous two stages of God’s work, and offers you no understanding of the aims of God’s work. Everyone who has read the Bible knows that it documents the two stages of God’s work during the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. The Old Testament chronicles the history of Israel and Jehovah’s work from the time of creation until the end of the Age of Law. The New Testament records Jesus’ work on earth, which is in the Four Gospels, as well as the work of Paul; are they not historical records? Bringing up the things of the past today makes them history, and no matter how true or real they might be, they are still history—and history cannot address the present. For God does not look back on history! And so, if you only understand the Bible, and understand nothing of the work God intends to do today, and if you believe in God but do not seek the work of the Holy Spirit, then you do not understand what it means to seek God. If you read the Bible in order to study the history of Israel, to research the history of God’s creation of all the heavens and earth, then you do not believe in God. But today, since you believe in God, and pursue life, since you pursue the knowledge of God, and do not pursue dead letters and doctrines, or an understanding of history, you must seek God’s will of today, and must look for the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work. If you were an archeologist you could read the Bible—but you are not, you are one of those who believe in God, and you’d best seek God’s will of today. By reading the Bible, at most you’ll understand a little of the history of Israel, you’ll learn about the lives of Abraham, David, and Moses, you’ll find out about how they revered Jehovah, how Jehovah burned those who opposed Him, and how He spoke to the people of that age. You’ll only find out about God’s work in the past. The records of the Bible relate to how the early people of Israel revered God and lived under the guidance of Jehovah. Because the Israelites were God’s chosen people, in the Old Testament you can see all the people of Israel’s loyalty to Jehovah, how all those who obeyed Jehovah were cared for and blessed by Him, you can learn that when God worked in Israel He was full of mercy and love, as well as possessed of consuming flames, and that all the Israelites, from the lowly to the mighty, revered Jehovah, and so the whole country was blessed by God. Such is the history of Israel recorded in the Old Testament.
The Bible is a historical record of God’s work in Israel, and documents many of the foretellings of ancient prophets as well as some of the utterances of Jehovah in His work at that time. Thus, people all look upon this book as holy (for God is holy and great). Of course, this is all a result of their reverence for Jehovah and their adoration for God. People refer to this book in this way only because the creatures of God are so adoring of their Creator, and there are even those who call this book a heavenly book. In fact, it is merely a human record. It was not personally named by Jehovah, nor did Jehovah personally guide its creation. In other words, the author of this book is not God, but men. The Holy Bible is only the respectful title given to it by man. This title was not decided by Jehovah and Jesus after they had a discussion amongst each other; it is nothing more than a human idea. For this book was not written by Jehovah, much less by Jesus. Instead, it is the accounts of many ancient prophets, apostles, and seers, which were compiled by later generations into a book of ancient writings that, to people, seems especially holy, a book that they believe contains many unfathomable and profound mysteries that are waiting to be unlocked by future generations. As such, people are even more disposed to believe that this book is a heavenly book. With the addition of the Four Gospels and the Book of Revelation, people’s attitude toward it is particularly different from any other book, and thus no one dares to dissect this "heavenly book“—because it is too "sacred."
Why, as soon as they read the Bible, are people able to find a proper path to practice in it? Why are they able to gain much that was incomprehensible to them? Today, I am dissecting the Bible in this way and it does not mean that I hate it, or deny its value for reference. I am explaining and clarifying the inherent value and origins of the Bible to you to stop you being kept in the dark. For people have so many views about the Bible, and most of them are wrong; reading the Bible in this way not only prevents them from gaining what they ought to, but, more important, it hinders the work I intend to do. It is a tremendous nuisance for the work of the future, and offers only drawbacks, not advantages. Thus, what I am teaching you is simply the substance and inside story of the Bible. I’m not asking that you don’t read the Bible, or that you go around proclaiming that it is totally devoid of value, but that you have the correct knowledge and view of the Bible. Don’t be too one-sided! Although the Bible is a history book that was written by men, it also documents many of the principles by which the ancient saints and prophets served God, as well as the recent apostles’ experiences in serving God—all of which were really seen and known by these people, and can serve as reference for the people of this age in pursuing the true way. Thus, in reading the Bible people can also gain many ways of life that cannot be found in other books. These ways are the ways of life of the work of the Holy Spirit experienced by prophets and apostles in ages past, and many of the words are precious, and can provide what people need. Thus, people all like to read the Bible. Because there is so much hidden in the Bible, people’s views toward it are unlike those toward the writings of great spiritual figures. The Bible is a record and collection of the experiences and knowledge of people who served Jehovah and Jesus in the old and new age, and so later generations have been able to gain much enlightenment, illumination, and paths to practice from it. The reason why the Bible is higher than the writings of any great spiritual figure is because all of their writings are drawn from the Bible, their experiences all come from the Bible, and they all explain the Bible. And so, although people can gain provision from the books of any great spiritual figure, they still worship the Bible, for it seems so high and profound to them! Although the Bible brings together some of the books of the words of life, such as the Pauline epistles and Petrine epistles, and although people can be provided for and assisted by these books, these books are still out of date, they still belong to the old age, and no matter how good they are, they are only suitable for one period, and are not everlasting. For God’s work is always developing, and it can’t simply stop at the time of Paul and Peter, or always remain in the Age of Grace in which Jesus was crucified. And so, these books are only suitable for the Age of Grace, not for the Age of Kingdom of the last days. They can only provide for the believers of the Age of Grace, not for the saints of the Age of Kingdom, and no matter how good they are, they are still obsolete. It is the same with Jehovah’s work of creation or His work in Israel: No matter how great this work was, it was still outdated, and the time would still come when it passed. God’s work is also the same: It is great, but there will come a time when it ends; it cannot always remain amidst the work of the creation, nor among that of the crucifixion. No matter how convincing the work of the crucifixion, no matter how effective it was in defeating Satan, work is, after all, still work, and the ages are, after all, still ages; work cannot always stay on the same foundation, nor can times never change, because there was the creation and there must be the last days. This is inevitable! Thus, today the words of life in the New Testament—the epistles of the apostles, and the Four Gospels—have become historical books, they have become old almanacs, and how could the old almanacs take people into the new age? No matter how capable these almanacs are of providing people with life, no matter how able they are to lead people to the cross, are they not outdated? Are they not bereft of value? Thus, I say you should not blindly believe in these almanacs. They are too old, they cannot bring you into the new work, and they can only burden you. Not only can they not bring you into the new work, and into the new entry, but they take you into the old religious churches—and if so, are you not regressing in your belief in God?
What the Bible documents is God’s work in Israel, including some of what was done by the chosen people of Israel. Even though there was selection of the parts for inclusion or removal, though the Holy Spirit does not approve, still He lays no blame. The Bible is nothing more than a history of Israel and of the work of God. The people, matters, and things it records were all real, and nothing about them had symbolic meaning—apart from, of course, the prophecy of Isaiah, Daniel, and other prophets, or John’s book of visions. The early people of Israel were knowledgeable and cultured, and their ancient knowledge and culture was fairly advanced, and so what they wrote was higher than the people of today. As a result, that they could write these books should come as no surprise, for Jehovah had done so much work among them, and they had seen so much. David beheld the deeds of Jehovah with his own eyes, he personally savored them, and saw many of the signs and wonders, and so he wrote all those psalms in praise of the deeds of Jehovah. That they were able to write these books is because of their circumstances, not because they were divine. They praised Jehovah because they had seen Him. If you have seen nothing of Jehovah, and are unaware of His existence, how could you praise Him? If you have not beheld Jehovah, then you will not know to praise Him, nor to worship Him, much less will you be able to write songs extolling Him, and even if you were asked to invent some deeds of Jehovah you wouldn’t be able to do so. That, today, you can praise God and love God is also because you have seen Him, and have also experienced His work—and if your caliber improves, will you, too, not also be able to write poems in praise of God like David?
To understand the Bible, to understand history, but not to understand what the Holy Spirit is doing today—that’s wrong! You’ve done very well in studying history, you’ve done a terrific job, but you understand nothing of the work the Holy Spirit does today. Is this not foolishness? Other people ask you: “What is God doing today? What should you enter into today? How is your pursuit of life going? Do you understand God’s will?” You’ll have no answer for what they ask—so what do you know? You will say: I’m only aware that I must turn my back on the flesh and know myself. And if they then ask “What else are you aware of?” you will say you also know to obey all of God’s arrangements, and understand a little of the history of the Bible, and that’s all. Is that all you’ve gained from believing in God all these years? If that’s all you understand, then you lack so much. Thus, your stature today is fundamentally incapable of fulfilling My requirements of you, and your powers of differentiation and the truths you understand are too meager—which is to say, your belief is too superficial! You must be equipped with more truths, you need more knowledge, you must see more, and only then will you be able to spread the gospel, for this is what you ought to achieve!