Forgiving Seventy Times Seven and the Lord’s Love
1. Forgive Seventy Times Seven
(Mat 18:21-22) Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
2. The Lord’s Love
(Mat 22:37-39) Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Of these two passages, one speaks of forgiveness and the other speaks of love. These two topics really highlight the work the Lord Jesus wanted to carry out in the Age of Grace.
When God became flesh, He brought along with that a stage of His work—He brought along the specific work and the disposition He wanted to express in this age. In that period, everything that the Son of man did revolved around the work that God wanted to carry out in this age. He would do no more and no less. Every single thing He said and every type of work that He carried out was all related to this age. Regardless of whether He expressed it in a human way with human language or through divine language—no matter which way, or from which perspective—His goal was to help people understand what He wanted to do, what His will was, and what His requirements of people were. He might use various means from different perspectives to help people understand and know His will, understand His work of saving mankind. So in the Age of Grace we see the Lord Jesus frequently using human language to express what He wanted to communicate with mankind. Even more, we see Him from the perspective of an ordinary guide speaking with people, supplying their needs, helping them with what they had requested. This way of working was not seen in the Age of Law that came before the Age of Grace. He became more intimate and more compassionate with mankind, as well as more able to achieve practical results in both form and manner. The expression to forgive people seventy times seven really clarifies this point. The purpose achieved by the number in this expression is to allow people to understand the Lord Jesus’ intention at the time that He said this. His intention was that people should forgive others—not once or twice, and not even seven times, but seventy times seven. What kind of idea is this “seventy times seven”? It is to get people to make forgiveness their own responsibility, something they must learn, and a way they must keep. Even though this was just an expression, it served as a crucial point. It helped people deeply appreciate what He meant and find the proper ways of practice and the principles and standards in practice. This expression helped people understand clearly and gave them an accurate concept that they should learn forgiveness—to forgive without conditions and without limitations, but with an attitude of tolerance and understanding for others. When the Lord Jesus said this, what was in His heart? Was He really thinking of seventy times seven? He wasn’t. Is there a number of times God will forgive man? There are many people who are very interested in the “number of times” mentioned, who really want to understand the origin and the meaning of this number. They want to understand why this number came out of the Lord Jesus’ mouth; they believe that there is a deeper implication to this number. In fact, this was just God’s expression in humanity. Any implication or meaning must be taken along with the Lord Jesus’ requirements for mankind. When God had not become flesh, people did not understand much of what He said because it came out of complete divinity. The perspective and context of what He said was invisible and unreachable to mankind; it was expressed from a spiritual realm that people could not see. For people who lived in the flesh, they could not pass through the spiritual realm. But after God became flesh, He spoke to mankind from the perspective of humanity, and He came out of and surpassed the scope of the spiritual realm. He could express His divine disposition, will, and attitude, through things humans could imagine and things they saw and encountered in their lives, and using methods that humans could accept, in a language they could understand, and knowledge they could grasp, to allow mankind to understand and to know God, to comprehend His intention and His required standards within the scope of their capacity, to the degree that they were able. This was the method and principle of God’s work in humanity. Even though God’s ways and His principles of working in the flesh were mostly achieved by or through humanity, it truly did achieve results that could not be achieved by working directly in divinity. God’s work in humanity was more concrete, authentic, and targeted, the methods were much more flexible, and in form it surpassed the Age of Law.
Below, let’s talk about loving the Lord and loving your neighbor as yourself. Is this something that’s directly expressed in divinity? Clearly not! These were all things that the Son of man said in humanity; only people would say something like “Love your neighbor as yourself. Loving others is the same as cherishing your own life,” and only people would speak in this manner. God has never spoken that way. At the very least, God does not have this type of language in His divinity because He doesn’t need this kind of tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself” to regulate His love for mankind, because God’s love for mankind is a natural revealing of what He has and is. When have you ever heard that God said anything like “I love mankind as I love Myself”? Because love is in God’s essence, and in what He has and is. God’s love for mankind and the way He treats people and His attitude are a natural expression and revealing of His disposition. He does not need to deliberately do this a certain way, or deliberately follow a certain method or a moral code to achieve loving His neighbor as Himself—He already possesses this type of essence. What do you see in this? When God worked in humanity, many of His methods, words, and truths were all expressed in a human way. But at the same time God’s disposition, what He has and is, and His will were expressed for people to know and understand them. What they knew and understood was exactly His essence and what He has and is, which represent the inherent identity and status of God Himself. That is to say, the Son of man in the flesh expressed the inherent disposition and essence of God Himself to the greatest extent possible and as accurately as possible. Not only was the Son of man’s humanity not a hindrance or a barrier to man’s communication and interaction with God in heaven, but it was actually the only channel and the only bridge for mankind to connect to the Lord of creation. At this point, don’t you feel that there are many similarities between the nature and methods of the work done by the Lord Jesus in the Age of Grace and the current stage of work? This current stage of work also uses a lot of human language to express God’s disposition, and it uses a lot of language and methods from mankind’s daily life and human knowledge to express God’s own will. Once God becomes flesh, no matter if He is speaking from a human perspective or a divine perspective, lots of His language and methods of expression are all through the medium of human language and methods. That is, when God becomes flesh, it is the best opportunity for you to see God’s omnipotence and His wisdom, and to know every real aspect of God. When God became flesh, while He was growing up, He came to understand, learn, and grasp some of mankind’s knowledge, common sense, language, and methods of expression in humanity. God incarnate possessed these things that came from the humans that He had created. They became tools of God in the flesh for expressing His disposition and His divinity, and allowed Him to make His work more pertinent, more authentic, and more accurate when He was working amidst mankind, from a human perspective and using human language. It made it more accessible and more easily understood for people, thus achieving the results that God wanted. Isn’t it more practical for God to work in the flesh this way? Isn’t it God’s wisdom? When God became flesh, when God’s flesh was able to take on the work that He wanted to carry out, it is when He would practically express His disposition and His work, and this was also the time that He could officially begin His ministry as the Son of man. This meant that there was no longer a gulf between God and man, that God would soon cease His work of communicating through messengers, and that God Himself could personally express all the words and work in the flesh that He wanted to. It also meant that the people God saves were closer to Him, and that His management work had entered new territory, and that all of mankind was about to be faced with a new era.
from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” in Continuation of The Word Appears in the Flesh