1. How can one know the divine essence of Christ?
Bible Verses for Reference:
“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life” “The words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake” (Jhn 14:6, 10-11).
Relevant Words of God:
To study such a thing is not difficult, but requires each of us to know this truth: He who is God’s incarnation shall hold the substance of God, and He who is God’s incarnation shall hold the expression of God. Since God becomes flesh, He shall bring forth the work He must do, and since God becomes flesh, He shall express what He is, and shall be able to bring the truth to man, bestow life upon man, and show man the way. Flesh that does not contain the substance of God is surely not the incarnate God; of this there is no doubt. To investigate whether it is God’s incarnate flesh, man must determine this from the disposition He expresses and the words He speaks. Which is to say, whether or not it is God’s incarnate flesh, and whether or not it is the true way, must be judged from His substance. And so, in determining[a] whether it is the flesh of God incarnate, the key is to pay attention to His substance (His work, His words, His disposition, and many more), rather than external appearance. If man sees only His external appearance, and overlooks His substance, then that shows the ignorance and naivety of man.
from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
Knowing God must be done through reading God’s word and understanding God’s word. Some people say: “I haven’t seen God incarnate, so how can I know God?” God’s word is actually an expression of God’s disposition. From God’s word you can see God’s love for mankind, His salvation of mankind, and the way He saves them … because God’s word is expressed by God as opposed to God using man to write it out. It is personally expressed by God. It is God Himself expressing His own words and His inner voice. Why do we call them heartfelt words? Because they are issued from deep down, expressing His disposition, His will, His thoughts, His love for mankind, His salvation of mankind, and His expectations of mankind. Among God’s words are severe words, gentle and soft words, some considerate words, and there are some revelatory words that are inhumane. If you look only at the revelatory words, you feel that God is quite stern. If you look at only the gentle and soft side, God appears to not have much authority. You must therefore not understand out of context in this. You must look at it from every angle. Sometimes God speaks from a gentle and compassionate perspective, and people see God’s love for mankind; sometimes He speaks from a strict perspective, and people see God’s unoffendable disposition. Man is deplorably filthy and is not worthy of seeing God’s face, and is not worthy of coming before God. People’s coming before God now is purely out of God’s grace. God’s wisdom can be seen from the way God works and the meaning of His work. Even if people don’t come into contact with God, they will still be able to see these things in God’s word. When someone who has true understanding comes in contact with Christ, his understanding can match Him, but when someone who has only theoretical understanding comes in contact with God, it cannot match Him. This aspect of truth is the deepest profound mystery, difficult to fathom. Summarize the words that God says about the mystery of the incarnation, look at them from various angles, then discuss these things among yourselves. You may pray, and do a lot of pondering and discussion of these things. Perhaps the Holy Spirit enlightens you and lets you understand them. This is because you have no chance to come in contact with God, and you must rely on experience in this way to feel your way in a little bit at a time, to achieve true understanding of God.
from “Knowledge of the Incarnation” in Records of Christ’s Talks
During the last days, when God becomes flesh, He principally uses the word to accomplish all and make all plain. Only in His words can you see what He is; only in His words can you see that He is God Himself. When God incarnate comes to earth, He does no other work but the speaking of words—thus there is no need for facts; words suffice. That is because He has principally come to do this work, to allow man to behold His power and supremacy in His words, to allow man to see in His words how He humbly hides Himself, and to allow man to know His entirety in His words. All that He has and is are in His words, His wisdom and wondrousness are in His words. In this are you made to see the many methods with which God speaks His words.
from “All Is Achieved by the Word of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Man comes to know God by experiencing His work, and there is no other correct way to know God.
from “Knowing God’s Work Today” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The process by which people experience God’s words is the same as the process by which they know the appearance of God’s words in the flesh. The more people experience God’s words, the more they know the Spirit of God; through experiencing God’s words, people grasp the principles of the Spirit’s work and come to know the practical God Himself. In fact, when God makes people perfect and gains them, He is making them know the deeds of the practical God; He is using the work of the practical God to show people the actual significance of the incarnation, and to show them that the Spirit of God has actually appeared before man.
from “You Should Know That the Practical God Is God Himself” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Unbeknownst to us, this insignificant man has led us into step after step of God’s work. We undergo countless trials, are subjected to innumerable chastenings, and tested by death. We learn of God’s righteous and majestic disposition, enjoy, too, His love and compassion, come to appreciate God’s great power and wisdom, witness the loveliness of God, and behold God’s eager desire to save man. In the words of this ordinary person, we come to know the disposition and substance of God, come to understand God’s will, come to know the nature and substance of man, and see the way of salvation and perfection. His words cause us to die, and cause us to be reborn; His words bring us comfort, yet also leave us wracked with guilt and a sense of indebtedness; His words bring us joy and peace, but also great pain. Sometimes we are as lambs to the slaughter in His hands; sometimes we are like the apple of His eye, and enjoy His love and affection; sometimes we are like His enemy, turned to ashes by His wrath in His eyes. We are the mankind saved by Him, we are the maggots in His eyes, and we are the lost lambs that He thinks of finding day and night. He is merciful toward us, He despises us, He raises us up, He comforts and exhorts us, He guides us, He enlightens us, He chastens and disciplines us, and He even curses us. He worries for us night and day, He protects and cares for us night and day, He never leaves our side, and He devotes all His care to us and pays any price for us. Among the words of this small and ordinary flesh, we have enjoyed the entirety of God, and beheld the destination that God has bestowed upon us. Yet despite this, vanity still stalks within our hearts, and we are still unwilling to actively accept a person such as this as our God. Though He has given us so much manna, so much to enjoy, none of this can usurp the Lord’s place in our hearts. We honor this person’s special identity and status only with great reluctance. If He does not speak up to make us acknowledge that He is God, then we will never take it upon ourselves to acknowledge Him as the God that is soon to arrive yet has been working among us for so long.
The utterance of God continues, and He employs various methods and perspectives to admonish us what to do and express His heart’s voice. His words carry life power, and show us the way we should walk, and allow us to understand what the truth is. We start to be drawn to His words, we begin to focus on the tone and manner of His speaking, and subconsciously begin to take an interest in the heart’s voice of this unremarkable person. He makes painstaking efforts for us, loses sleep and appetite for us, weeps for us, sighs for us, groans in sickness for us, suffers humiliation for the sake of our destination and salvation, and His heart bleeds and sheds tears for our numbness and rebelliousness. Such being and possessions of His are beyond an ordinary person, and cannot be possessed or attained by any of the corrupted. He has tolerance and patience possessed by no ordinary person, and His love is not possessed by any created being. No one apart from Him can know all of our thoughts, or have such a grasp of our nature and substance, or judge the rebelliousness and corruption of mankind, or speak to us and work among us like this on behalf of the God of heaven. No one except for Him can possess the authority, wisdom, and dignity of God; the disposition of God and what He has and is are issued forth, in their entirety, from Him. No one apart from Him can show us the way and bring us light. No one apart from Him can reveal the mysteries God has not disclosed from creation until today. No one apart from Him can save us from Satan’s bondage and our corrupt disposition. He represents God, and expresses the heart’s voice of God, the exhortations of God, and the words of judgment of God toward all mankind. He has begun a new age, a new era, and brought a new heaven and earth, new work, and He has brought us hope, and ended the life we led in vagueness, and allowed us to fully behold the path of salvation. He has conquered our whole being, and gained our hearts. From that moment onward, our minds become conscious, and our spirits seem to be revived: This ordinary, insignificant person, who lives among us and has long been rejected by us—is He not the Lord Jesus, who is ever in our thoughts, and whom we long for night and day? It is He! It’s really Him! He is our God! He is the truth, the way, and the life! He has allowed us to live again, to see the light, and has stopped our hearts from wandering. We have returned to the home of God, we have returned before His throne, we are face-to-face with Him, we have witnessed His countenance, and have seen the road ahead. At the time, our hearts have been completely conquered by Him; we no longer doubt who He is, and no longer oppose His work and word, and we fall down, completely, before Him. We wish for nothing except to follow the footprints of God for the rest of our lives, and to be made perfect by Him, and to repay His grace, and repay His love for us, and to obey His orchestrations and arrangements, and to cooperate with His work, and to do everything we can to complete what He entrusts to us.
Being conquered by God is like a martial arts contest.
Each of God’s words strikes at our mortal spot, and leaves us sorrowful and afraid. He reveals our notions, reveals our imaginations, and reveals our corrupt disposition. Through all that we say and do, and every one of our thoughts and ideas, our nature and substance are revealed by His words, leaving us humiliated and trembling with fear. He tells us of all of our actions, our aims and intentions, and even the corrupt disposition that we have never discovered, making us feel we are thoroughly exposed, and even more feel completely convinced. He judges us for our opposition to Him, chastises us for our blasphemy and condemnation of Him, and makes us feel that in His eyes we are worthless, and we are the living Satan. Our hopes are dashed, we no longer dare to make any unreasonable demands and attempts upon Him, and even our dreams vanish overnight. This is a fact that none of us can imagine, and which none of us can accept. For a moment, our minds become unbalanced, and we do not know how to continue on the road ahead, do not know how to continue in our beliefs. It seems like our faith has gone back to square one, and that we have never met and been acquainted with the Lord Jesus. Everything before our eyes perplexes us, and makes us feel as if we have been cast adrift. We are dismayed, we are disappointed, and deep in our hearts there is insuppressible anger and disgrace. We try to vent, try to find a way out, and, what’s more, we attempt to continue waiting for our Savior Jesus, and pour our hearts out to Him. Though there are times when we are neither haughty nor humble on the outside, in our hearts we are afflicted with a sense of loss like never before. Though sometimes we may seem unusually calm on the outside, inside we endure rolling seas of torment. His judgment and chastisement have stripped us of all our hopes and dreams, have left us without our extravagant desires, and unwilling to believe that He is our Savior and capable of saving us. His judgment and chastisement have opened up a deep gulf between us and Him and no one is even willing to cross. His judgment and chastisement are the first time that we suffer such a great setback and such great humiliation. His judgment and chastisement have allowed us to truly appreciate God’s honor and intolerance of man’s offense, compared to which we are so lowly and impure. His judgment and chastisement have made us realize for the first time how arrogant and pompous we are, and how man will never be the equal of God, or on a par with God. His judgment and chastisement have made us yearn to no longer live in such a corrupt disposition, and have made us long to rid ourselves of such nature and substance as soon as possible, and no longer be detested by Him and disgusting to Him. His judgment and chastisement have made us happy to obey His words, and no longer willing to rebel against His orchestrations and arrangements. His judgment and chastisement have once more given us the desire to seek life, and have made us happy to accept Him as our Savior…. We have walked out of the work of conquest, stepped out of hell, stepped out of the valley of the shadow of death…. Almighty God has gained us, this group of people! He has triumphed over Satan, and defeated all of His enemies!
from “Beholding the Appearance of God in His Judgment and Chastisement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
You will not see God hold similar views on things that people have, and moreover you will not see Him use men’s viewpoints, their knowledge, their science or their philosophy or man’s imagination to handle things. Instead, everything God does and everything He reveals is connected to truth. That is, every word He has said and every action He has taken concerns the truth. This truth is not some baseless fantasy; this truth and these words are expressed by God due to God’s substance and His life. Because these words and the substance of everything God has done are truth, we can say that God’s substance is holy. In other words, everything God says and does brings vitality and light to people; it allows people to see positive things and the reality of those positive things and it points humanity toward the road of light so that they may walk the right path. These things are determined because of God’s substance and they are determined due to the substance of His holiness.
from “God Himself, the Unique V” in Continuation of The Word Appears in the Flesh
He, also living in a land of filth, has not been tainted with filth in the least. He lives in the same filthy world as you, but He possesses reason and insight; He detests filth. You yourself cannot see the filthy things in your own words and actions but He can—He can show them to you. Those old things of yours—your lack of cultivation, insight, and sense, your backward lifestyle—have all been uncovered through His exposure of them now. God has come to the earth to work this way, so that people have seen His holiness and His righteous disposition. He judges and chastises you and makes you understand yourself. Sometimes your demonic nature appears and He can show it to you. He knows mankind’s essence like the back of His hand. He lives the way you do, eats the same food as you, lives in the same kind of home as you, yet He knows much more than you do. But what He hates the most are mankind’s life philosophies and their deceit and crookedness. He hates these things and He is unwilling to acknowledge them. He particularly hates mankind’s fleshly interactions. Although He doesn’t entirely understand some of the general knowledge of human interactions, He is fully aware when people expose some of their corrupt disposition. In His work, He speaks and teaches people through these things in them, and through these He judges people and reveals His righteous and holy disposition. This is how people become foils for His work. It is only God incarnate who can reveal all kinds of mankind’s corrupt dispositions and all of Satan’s ugly faces. He does not punish you, He would just have you be a foil for God’s holiness, and then you cannot stand firm on your own because you are too filthy. He speaks through those things that people reveal and He exposes them so that people may know how holy God is. He will not let go of even the slightest filth in humans, not even the smallest filthy idea in their hearts or words and actions that are not in line with His will. Through His words, the filth in no man and no thing will remain—it will all be exposed. It is only then that you see that He truly is different from people. He is thoroughly disgusted by even the slightest filth in mankind. Sometimes people even don’t understand, and say: “Why are You always angry? God, why are You not considerate of mankind’s weaknesses? Why don’t You have a little forgiveness for mankind? Why are You so inconsiderate to man? You know how corrupt people are, so why do You still treat people this way?” He is disgusted by sin; He hates sin. He is particularly disgusted by any rebelliousness there may be in you. When you expose a rebellious disposition He is disgusted beyond measure. It is through these things that His disposition and being can be expressed. When you compare it to yourself, you will see that although He eats the same food, wears the same clothing, and has the same enjoyments as people, though He lives alongside and with mankind, He is not the same. Isn’t this the very meaning of being a foil? It is through these things in people that God’s great power is thrown into sharp relief; it is darkness that sets off the precious existence of the light.
from “How the Second Step of the Work of Conquering Bears Fruit” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
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. With regard to His work, man cannot tell what kind of person He is. Man is also unable to classify Him as a created person on the basis of His work. What He is also makes Him unable to be classified as a created person. Man can only consider Him a non-human, but does not know which category to put Him in, so man is forced to list Him in the category of God. It is not unreasonable for man to do this, because He has done a lot of work among people that man is unable to do.
from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. The original text reads “as for.”