3. What is the difference between church life in the Age of Grace and church life in the Age of Kingdom?
Bible Verses for Reference:
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mat 26:26-28).
“And I went to the angel, and said to him, Give me the little book. And he said to me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make your belly bitter, but it shall be in your mouth sweet as honey” (Rev 10:9).
Relevant Words of God:
When, in the Age of Grace, God returned to the third heaven, God’s work of redeeming all of mankind had actually already moved into its closing act. All that remained on earth were the cross that Jesus carried, the fine linen that Jesus was wrapped in, and the crown of thorns and scarlet robe that Jesus wore (these were objects the Jews used to mock Him). That is, the work of Jesus’ crucifixion had caused an uproar for a time and then had settled down. From then on, Jesus’ disciples began to carry His work forward, shepherding and watering in the churches everywhere. The content of their work was this: to have all people repent, admit their sins, and be baptized; the apostles all spreading the inside story of Jesus’ crucifixion and what actually happened, everyone not being able to help but fall down before Jesus to admit their sins, and furthermore the apostles spreading everywhere the words Jesus spoke and the laws and commandments He established. From that point began the building of churches in the Age of Grace. … That kind of work and those words have continued to this day, and that is why what is still shared in today’s religious churches is that sort of thing and is utterly unchanged.
from “Work and Entry (6)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
All the work done by man is performing his duty as one of creation and is done when moved or enlightened by the Holy Spirit. The guidance that such men provide is how to practice in man’s daily life and how man should act in harmony with the will of God. … was to lead the way. Be the way new or old, the work was done on the basis of not exceeding the principles of the Bible. Whether the local churches were restored or built, their work was to establish churches. The work they did carried on the work that Jesus and His apostles had not finished or further developed in the Age of Grace. What they did in their work was to restore what Jesus had asked in His work of the generations after Him, such as keeping their heads covered, baptism, breaking bread, or drinking wine. It could be said that their work was to keep merely to the Bible and seek paths only from within the Bible. They made no new progress at all. Therefore, one can see in their work only the discovery of new ways within the Bible, as well as better and more realistic practices. But one cannot find in their work the present will of God, much less find the new work that God will do in the last days. This is because the path they walked was still one of old; there was no progress and nothing new. They continued to keep the fact of “the crucifixion of Jesus,” the practice of “asking people to repent and confess their sins,” the saying that “he who endures to the end shall be saved,” and the saying that “man is the head of woman, and woman must obey her husband.” Moreover, they kept the traditional conception that “sisters cannot preach, and they can only obey.”
from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
What you talk of is obsolete! It is either ascending to the throne, or preparing the stature of becoming a king; either denying the self or subduing one’s body; either being patient or learning lessons from all things; either humility or love. Is this not singing the same old tune? It’s just a case of calling the same thing by a different name! Either covering one’s head and breaking bread, or laying hands and praying, and healing the sick and casting out demons. Could there be any new work? Could there be any prospect of development?
from “Concerning Appellations and Identity” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Pastors and leaders in the religious world, for example, rely on their gifts and positions to do their work. People who follow them for a long time will be infected by their gifts and be influenced by some of what they are. They focus on people’s gifts, abilities and knowledge, and they pay attention to some supernatural things and many profound unrealistic doctrines (of course, these profound doctrines are unattainable). They do not focus on changes to people’s disposition, but rather they focus on training people’s preaching and working abilities, improving people’s knowledge and rich religious doctrines. They do not focus on how much people’s disposition is changed or how much people understand the truth. They do not concern themselves with the substance of people, much less try to know people’s normal and abnormal states. They do not counter people’s notions or reveal their notions, much less mend their deficiencies or corruptions. Most of the people who follow them serve by their natural gifts, and what they express is knowledge and vague religious truth, which are out of touch with reality and are completely unable to confer people with life.
from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Whenever such religious people congregate, they ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She replies, “I feel indebted to God and that I am unable to fulfill His heart’s desire.” Another says, “I, too, am indebted to God and unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within their hearts. Such words are the most loathsome and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such men opposes God. Those who focus on reality communicate whatever is in their hearts and open their hearts in communication. There is not a single false exercise, no civilities or empty pleasantries. They are always straightforward and observe no earthly rules. There are those who have a penchant for outward display, even without any sense. When another sings, he begins to dance, not even realizing that the rice in his pot has already burned. Such manner of men are not godly or honorable, and are far too frivolous. These are all manifestations of the lack of reality! Some gather to commune about the matters of life in the spirit, and though they speak not of indebtedness to God, they retain a true love for Him within their hearts. Your indebtedness to God has nothing to do with others; you are indebted to God, not man. So what use is it for you to constantly speak of this to others? You must place importance on entering into reality, not outward zeal or display.
from “Believing in God Should Focus on Reality, Not Religious Rituals” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Most people place special emphasis on behavior in their belief in God, as a result of which there are changes occurring in their behavior. After believing in God, they stop contending with others, they stop fighting with people and insulting them, they stop smoking and drinking, they do not steal any public property—whether it be but a nail or a plank of wood—and they even go so far as to not take it to the courts when they suffer losses or are wronged. Without doubt, some changes do occur in their behavior. Because, after believing in God, accepting the true way makes them feel especially good, and because they have also tasted the grace of the work of the Holy Spirit, they are particularly fervent, and there is even nothing that they cannot forsake or do. Yet in the end—after having believed for three, five, ten, or thirty years—because there has been no change in their life disposition, they slide back into old ways, their arrogance and haughtiness grows, and they begin to fight for power and profit, they covet the money of the church, they do anything that serves their interests, they crave status and pleasures, they become parasites of the house of God. Most of the leaders, in particular, are abandoned. And what do these facts prove? Changes in nothing more than behavior are unsustainable. If there is no alteration in people’s life disposition, then sooner or later their wicked side will show itself.
from “The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Of principal importance in following God is that everything should be according to the words of God today: Whether you are pursuing entry into life or the fulfillment of God’s will, everything should be centered around the words of God today. If what you commune and pursue are not centered around the words of God today, then you are a stranger to the words of God, and totally bereft of the work of the Holy Spirit. What God wants are people who follow His footsteps. No matter how wonderful and pure what you understood before is, God does not want it, and if you are unable to put aside such things, then they will be a tremendous obstacle to your entry in the future. All those who are able to follow the present light of the Holy Spirit are blessed. … “Following the work of the Holy Spirit” means understanding the will of God today, being able to act in accordance with the present requirements of God, being able to obey and follow the God of today, and entering in accordance with the newest utterances of God. Only this is someone who follows the work of the Holy Spirit and is in the stream of the Holy Spirit. Such people are not only capable of receiving God’s praise and seeing God, but can also know God’s disposition from the latest work of God, and can know man’s conceptions and disobedience, and man’s nature and substance, from His latest work; furthermore, they are able to gradually achieve changes in their disposition during their service. Only people such as this are those who are able to gain God, and who have genuinely found the true way.
from “Know the Newest Work of God and Follow the Footsteps of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In “sharing and communing experiences,” sharing means speaking of every thought in your heart, your state, your experiences and knowledge of God’s words, as well as the corrupt disposition within you—and after that, others differentiate, and accept the positive and recognize that which is negative. Only this is sharing, and only this is truly communing. It does not simply mean having insights into the words of God or a part of a hymn, and communing as you please, and not saying anything related to your own actual life. Everyone talks about doctrinal and theoretical knowledge, and says nothing of knowledge drawn from actual experiences. They all avoid talking about such things, about their personal lives, about their life in the church with their brothers and sisters, and about their own inner world. In this way, how can there be true communication between people, how can there be real trust? There cannot! … If the brothers and sisters are to be able to confide in each other, help each other out, and provide for one another when they are together, then each person must speak of their own true experiences. If you don’t talk of your own true experiences, and only speak high-sounding words, and words that are doctrinal and superficial, then you are not honest, and you are incapable of being honest.
from “To Be Honest, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks
When you bear witness to God, you should mainly talk more about how God judges and chastises people, what trials He uses to refine humans and change humans’ disposition, how much you have endured, how much rebellion and corruption within you has been revealed, and in what ways you have resisted God. Then you can talk about how you were eventually conquered by God and how you should repay God. Put substance into this kind of language, put it in a simple way, and don’t talk about empty theories. Speak of substance, speak from the heart, that’s enough for you to experience. Don’t prepare empty theories with great apparent depth as embellishment. This would seem too arrogant and senseless. Speak more of truths from practical experiences in reality, of the words from your heart. Those are what benefit people the most and are most appropriate for people to be exposed to. You used to be the worst opponents of God, the most disobedient to God, but today you’ve been conquered, never forget that. Matters of this nature require diligent reflection. Think long on these things, lest you commit more shameless and senseless acts.
from “The Basic Sense Which Man Ought to Possess” in Records of Christ’s Talks
If one could truly enter into the reality of God’s words from the matters and the words required by Him, then he would be a person perfected by God. It could be said that the work and the words of God were completely effective for this person, that God’s words became his life, he obtained truth, and he could live according to God’s words. After this the nature of his flesh, that is, the foundation of his original existence, would shake and collapse. After one has the words of God as their life they become a new person. The words of God became his life; the vision of God’s work, His requirements of man, His revelation of man, and the standards for a true life that God requires man to achieve became his life—he lived according to these words and these truths, and this person became perfected by the words of God. He experienced rebirth and became a new man through His words.
from “How to Take the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks
After experiencing to a certain point, a person’s life views, significance of existence, and foundation of existence will completely transform. That is, you will be born again, and become a completely different person. This is incredible! This is a big transformation; it is a transformation that turns everything upside down. You will feel that fame, profit, position, wealth, pleasures, and glory of the world don’t matter and that you are able to effortlessly let go of them. This is a person in the likeness of a human being. Those who are ultimately made complete will be a group like this. They will live for truth, for God, and for righteousness. This is the likeness of a person.
from “Understanding Commonalities and Differences in Human Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks