IX. One Must Fellowship Clearly That Christ Is the Manifestation of God Himself
1. How can one know Christ’s divine essence?
Bible Verses for Reference:
“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me. If you had known Me, you should have known My Father also: and from now on you know Him, and have seen Him” (Jhn 14:6–7).
“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 14:10–11)
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 and understanding God’s word, practicing and experiencing God’s word. Some say: “I haven’t seen God incarnate, so how could I know God?” In fact, God’s word is an expression of God’s disposition. From God’s word you can see God’s love and salvation for mankind, and His method for saving them…. This is because God’s word is expressed by God Himself as opposed to using man to write it out. It is personally expressed by God—He is expressing His own words and His inner voice. Why is it said that they are 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 harsh words, gentle and considerate words, and there are some revelatory words that are not in line with human wishes. If you look only at the revelatory words, you will feel that God is quite stern. If you look only at the gentle words, you will feel that God does not have much authority. Therefore, you must not take this out of context, but 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 disposition that will tolerate no offense. Man is deplorably filthy and is not worthy of seeing God’s face or of coming before God. That people can now come before God is purely God’s grace. God’s wisdom can be seen from the way He works and the meaning of His work. People can still see these things in God’s word even without directly contacting Him. When someone who has true understanding of God comes into contact with Christ, he’ll be able to match this up to his existing understanding of God, but when someone who has only theoretical understanding encounters God, he cannot see the correlation. The truth of the incarnation is the most profound mystery; it is difficult to fathom. Summarize God’s words on the mystery of the incarnation, look at them from all angles, then pray together, ponder, and fellowship on this aspect of truth more. Then, the Holy Spirit will enlighten you and give you understanding. Since man has no chance to come in contact with God, he must rely on this kind of experience to feel his way through and enter in a little bit at a time in order to achieve true understanding of God.
from “How to Know God Incarnate” in Records of Christ’s Talks
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
Although the appearance of God incarnate is exactly the same as a human, He learns human knowledge and speaks human language, and sometimes He even expresses His ideas through mankind’s means or expressions, the way He sees humans, the essence of things, and the way corrupt people see mankind and the essence of things are absolutely not the same. His perspective and the height at which He stands is something unattainable for a corrupt person. This is because God is truth, the flesh that He wears also possesses the essence of God, and His thoughts and that which is expressed by His humanity are also the truth. For corrupt people, what He expresses in the flesh are provisions of the truth, and of life. These provisions are not just for one person, but for all of mankind. For any corrupt person, in his heart there are only those few people who are associated with him. There are only those several people who he cares about, who he is concerned about. When disaster is on the horizon he first thinks of his own children, spouse, or parents, and a more philanthropic person would at most think of some relative or a good friend; does he think of more? Not ever! Because humans are, after all, humans, and they can only look at everything from the perspective and from the height of a person. However, God incarnate is entirely different from a corrupt person. No matter how ordinary, how normal, how lowly God’s incarnate flesh is, or even how much people look down on Him, His thoughts and His attitude toward mankind are things that no man could possess, and no man could imitate. He will always observe mankind from the perspective of divinity, from the height of His position as the Creator. He will always see mankind through the essence and the mindset of God. He absolutely cannot see mankind from the height of an average person, and from the perspective of a corrupt person. When people look at mankind, they look with human vision, and they use things such as human knowledge and human rules and theories as a measure. This is within the scope of what people can see with their eyes; it’s within the scope that corrupt people can achieve. When God looks at mankind, He looks with divine vision, and He uses His essence and what He has and is as a measure. This scope includes things that people cannot see, and this is where God incarnate and corrupt humans are entirely different. This difference is determined by humans’ and God’s different essences, and it is these different essences that determine their identities and positions as well as the perspective and height from which they see things.
from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III” 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 the way for humanity 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 The Word Appears in the Flesh
Isn’t everything that’s being revealed in God’s current words about mankind’s corrupt disposition? God’s righteous disposition and holiness are shown through your ideas and your motives, and through what you reveal. 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 pay attention to 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: “God, why are You always angry? 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
God Himself has no elements of disobedience; His substance is good. He is the expression of all beauty and goodness, as well as all love. Even in the flesh, God does not do any that disobeys God the Father. Even at the expense of sacrificing His life, He would be whole-heartedly willing and make no other choice. God has no elements of self-rightness and self-importance, or those of conceit and arrogance; He has no elements of crookedness. All that disobeys God comes from Satan; Satan is the source of all ugliness and wickedness. The reason that man has qualities alike those of Satan is because man has been corrupted and worked on by Satan. Christ has not been corrupted by Satan, hence He has only the characteristics of God and none of those of Satan. No matter how arduous the work or weak the flesh, God, while He lives in the flesh, will never do anything that interrupts the work of God Himself, much less forsake the will of God the Father in disobedience. He would rather suffer pains of the flesh than go against the will of God the Father; it is just as Jesus said in prayer, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.” Man will choose, but Christ would not. Though He has the identity of God Himself, He still seeks the will of God the Father, and fulfills what is entrusted to Him by God the Father, from the perspective of the flesh. This is something that is unattainable to man.
from “The Substance of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Unbeknownst to us, this insignificant man has led us into one step after another of God’s work. We undergo countless trials, bear innumerable chastenings, and are tested by death. We learn of God’s righteous and majestic disposition, enjoy, too, His love and mercy, 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, to understand God’s will, to know the nature and substance of man, and see the way to salvation and perfection. His words cause us to “die,” and again they 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 infinite pain. Sometimes we are as lambs to the slaughter in His hands; sometimes we are like the apple of His eye, and enjoy His tender love; sometimes we are like His enemy, and under His gaze are turned to ashes by His wrath. We are the human race saved by Him, we are the maggots in His eyes, and we are the lost lambs that, day and night, He is bent on finding. 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. Night and day, He never ceases to worry about us, and protects and cares for us, night and day, never leaving our side, but spills His heart’s blood for our sake and pays any price for us. Within the utterances of this small and ordinary body of flesh, we have enjoyed the entirety of God and beheld the destination that God has bestowed upon us. Notwithstanding this, vanity still stirs up trouble within our hearts, and we are still unwilling to actively accept a person like this as our God. Though He has given us so much manna, so much to enjoy, none of this can take the Lord’s place in our hearts. We honor this person’s special identity and status only with great reluctance. As long as He does not open His mouth to ask us to acknowledge that He is God, we will never take it upon ourselves to acknowledge Him as the God that is soon to arrive and yet has long been working in our midst.
God continues His utterances, employing various methods and perspectives to admonish us about what we should do while at the same time giving voice to His heart. His words carry life power, show us the way we should walk, and enable us to understand what the truth is. We begin to be drawn by His words, we begin to focus on the tone and manner of His speaking, and subconsciously we begin to take an interest in the innermost feelings of this unremarkable person. He spits up His heart’s blood in working on our behalf, loses sleep and appetite on our account, weeps for us, sighs for us, groans in sickness for us, suffers humiliation for the sake of our destination and salvation, and our numbness and rebelliousness draw tears and blood from His heart. This way of being and of having belongs to no ordinary person, nor can it be possessed or attained by any corrupted human being. He shows tolerance and patience possessed by no ordinary person, and His love is not something with which any created being is endowed. No one apart from Him can know all of our thoughts, or have such a clear and complete 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 God in heaven. No one apart from Him is endowed with the authority, wisdom, and dignity of God; the disposition of God and what God has and is are brought forth, in their entirety, in Him. No one apart from Him can show us the way and bring us light. No one apart from Him can reveal the mysteries that God has not disclosed from creation until today. No one apart from Him can save us from Satan’s bondage and our own corrupt disposition. He represents God. He expresses the inmost heart of God, the exhortations of God, and God’s words of judgment toward all mankind. He has begun a new age, a new era, and ushered in a new heaven and earth and new work, and He has brought us hope, ending the life we led in vagueness and enabling our whole being to behold, in total clarity, the path to salvation. He has conquered our whole being, and gained our hearts. From that moment onward, our minds have 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 this not the Lord Jesus, who is ever in our thoughts, waking or dreaming, and for whom we long night and day? It is He! It really is He! He is our God! He is the truth, the way, and the life! He has enabled us to live again and 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 we have seen the road that lies ahead. At this time, our hearts are completely conquered by Him; we no longer doubt who He is, no longer oppose His work and His word, and we fall down prostrate before Him. We wish for nothing more than 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 one of our mortal spots, leaving us smarting and filled with dread. He exposes our notions, our imaginings, and our corrupt disposition. From all that we say and do, down to every one of our thoughts and ideas, our nature and substance are revealed in His words, putting us in a state of fear and trembling and with nowhere to hide our shame. One by one, He tells us about all of our actions, our aims and intentions, even the corrupt disposition that we ourselves have never discovered, making us feel exposed in all our wretched imperfection and, even more, completely won over. He judges us for opposing Him, chastises us for blaspheming and condemning Him, and makes us feel that, in His eyes, we have not one single redeeming feature, that we are the living Satan. Our hopes are dashed, we no longer dare to make any unreasonable demands or to entertain any hopes of Him, and even our dreams vanish overnight. This is a fact that none of us can imagine, and which none of us can accept. Within the space of a moment, we lose our inward equilibrium, and do not know how to continue on the road that lies ahead, or how to continue in our beliefs. It seems as if our faith has gone back to square one, and again as if we have never met the Lord Jesus or got to know Him. Everything before our eyes fills us with perplexity, and makes us vacillate indecisively. We are dismayed, we are disappointed, and deep in our hearts there is irrepressible rage and disgrace. We try to vent, to find a way out, and, what is more, to continue waiting for our Savior Jesus, that we may pour our hearts out to Him. Though there are times when we appear on the outside to be on an even keel, neither haughty nor humble, in our hearts we are afflicted with a sense of loss we have never felt before. Though sometimes we may seem unusually calm on the outside, our minds are roiling with torment like a stormy sea. His judgment and chastisement have stripped us of all our hopes and dreams, putting an end to our extravagant desires and leaving us unwilling to believe that He is our Savior and capable of saving us. His judgment and chastisement have opened up a gulf between us and Him so deep that no one is even willing to try and cross. His judgment and chastisement are the first time that we have suffered such a great setback, such great humiliation in our lives. His judgment and chastisement have caused us to truly appreciate God’s honor and intolerance of man’s offense, compared to which we are exceedingly base, exceedingly 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 live no more in such a corrupt disposition, to rid ourselves of this nature and substance as soon as possible, and to cease being vile and detestable to Him. His judgment and chastisement have made us happy to obey His words, no longer rebelling against His orchestrations and arrangements. His judgment and chastisement have once more given us the desire to seek life, and made us happy to accept Him as our Savior…. We have stepped out of the work of conquest, out of hell, 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 the multitudes of His enemies!
from “Beholding the Appearance of God in His Judgment and Chastisement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. The original text reads “as for.”