4. The Purpose and Significance of God’s Work in the Age of Grace
Bible Verses for Reference:
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (Jhn 3:17).
Relevant Words of God:
Jesus represents all the work of the Age of Grace; He was incarnated in the flesh and crucified on the cross, and He also inaugurated the Age of Grace. He was crucified in order to complete the work of redemption, to end the Age of Law and begin the Age of Grace, and so He was called the “Supreme Commander,” the “Sin Offering,” the “Redeemer.” Thus the work of Jesus differed in content from the work of Jehovah, although they were the same in principle. Jehovah began the Age of Law, established the home base, that is, the point of origin, of His work on earth, and issued the commandments; these were two of His accomplishments, which represent the Age of Law. The work Jesus did in the Age of Grace was not to issue commandments but to fulfill the Commandments, thereby ushering in the Age of Grace and concluding the Age of Law that had lasted two thousand years. He was the trailblazer, who came in order to begin the Age of Grace, yet the main part of His work lay in redemption. And so His accomplishments were also twofold: opening up a new age, and completing the work of redemption through His crucifixion. Then He departed. At this point, the Age of Law came to an end and mankind entered into the Age of Grace.
The work Jesus did was in accordance with the needs of man in that age. His task was to redeem humanity, to forgive them their sins, and so His disposition was wholly one of humility, patience, love, piety, forbearance, mercy, and lovingkindness. He blessed humanity richly and brought them grace in abundance, and all the things that they could possibly enjoy, He gave them for their enjoyment: peace and happiness, His tolerance and love, His mercy and lovingkindness. In those days, all that man encountered was an abundance of things to enjoy: Their hearts were at peace and reassured, their spirits were consoled, and they were sustained by the Savior Jesus. That they could obtain these things was a consequence of the age in which they lived. In the Age of Grace, man had already undergone Satan’s corruption, and so the work of redeeming all humanity required an abundance of grace, infinite forbearance and patience, and even more, an offering sufficient to atone for humanity’s sins, in order to arrive at its effect. What humanity saw in the Age of Grace was merely My offering of atonement for the sins of humanity, that is, Jesus. All they knew was that God could be merciful and forbearing, and all they saw was Jesus’ mercy and lovingkindness. This was entirely because they lived in the Age of Grace. And so, before they could be redeemed, they had to enjoy the many kinds of grace that Jesus bestowed on them; only this was beneficial to them. This way, they could be forgiven of their sins through their enjoyment of grace, and could also have the chance to be redeemed through enjoying Jesus’ forbearance and patience. Only through Jesus’ forbearance and patience did they win the right to receive forgiveness and enjoy the abundance of grace bestowed by Jesus—just as Jesus said, “I have come to redeem not the righteous but sinners, to allow sinners to be forgiven of their sins.” If Jesus had been incarnated with the disposition of judgment, curse, and intolerance of man’s offenses, then man would never have had the chance to be redeemed, and would then have remained forever sinful. Had this been so, the six-thousand-year management plan would have come to a stop in the Age of Law, and the Age of Law would have been prolonged for six thousand years. Man’s sins would only have grown more numerous and more grievous, and the creation of humanity would have been for naught. Men would only have been able to serve Jehovah under the law, but their sins would have exceeded those of the first created humans. The more Jesus loved mankind, forgiving them their sins and bringing unto them enough mercy and lovingkindness, the more mankind gained the capacity to be saved, to be called the lost lambs that Jesus bought back at a great price. Satan could not meddle in this work, because Jesus treated His followers as a loving mother treats the infant in her bosom. He did not grow angry at them or despise them, but was full of consolation; He never flew into a rage in their midst, but forbore with their sins and turned a blind eye to their foolishness and ignorance, to the point of saying, “Forgive others seventy times seven times.” So His heart transformed the hearts of others. It was in this way that the people received forgiveness of sins through His forbearance.
from “The True Story Behind Work in the Age of Redemption” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Though Jesus in His incarnation was utterly without emotion, He always comforted His disciples, provided for them, helped them, and sustained them. However much work He did or however much suffering He endured, He never made excessive demands of the people, but was always patient and forbearing of their sins, such that people in the Age of Grace affectionately called Him “the lovable Savior Jesus.” To the people of that time—to all people—what Jesus had and was, was mercy and lovingkindness. He never remembered people’s transgressions, and His treatment of them was not based on their transgressions. Because that was a different age, He often bestowed plentiful food and drink upon the people so that they could eat their fill. He treated all His followers with grace, healing the sick, driving out demons, raising the dead. In order that the people might believe in Him and see that all that He did was done earnestly and sincerely, He went so far as to resurrect a rotting corpse, showing them that in His hands even the dead could come back to life. In this way He endured silently and did His work of redemption in their midst. Even before He was nailed to the cross, Jesus had already taken upon Himself the sins of humanity and become a sin offering for mankind. Even before being crucified, He had already opened the way to the cross in order to redeem mankind. At last He was nailed to the cross, sacrificing Himself for the sake of the cross, and He bestowed all of His mercy, lovingkindness, and holiness upon mankind. To humanity He was always tolerant, never vengeful, but forgave them their sins, exhorted them to repent, and taught them to have patience, forbearance, and love, to follow in His footsteps and sacrifice themselves for the sake of the cross. His love for the brothers and sisters exceeded His love for Mary. The work that He did took as its principle healing the people and driving out demons, all for the sake of His redemption. No matter where He went, He treated all who followed Him with grace. He made the poor rich, the lame walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear; He even invited the lowliest, destitute ones, the sinners, to sit at the same table with Him, never shunning them but always being patient, even saying, “When a shepherd loses one sheep out of a hundred, he will leave behind the ninety-nine to seek the one lost sheep, and when he finds it he will rejoice greatly.” He loved His followers as a ewe loves her lambs. Though they were foolish and ignorant, and were sinners in His eyes, and furthermore were the humblest members of society, He considered these sinners—men whom others despised—as the apple of His eye. Since He favored them, He gave up His life for them, as a lamb was offered up on the altar. He went about in their midst as if He were their servant, letting them use Him and slaughter Him, submitting to them unconditionally. To His followers He was the lovable Savior Jesus, but to the Pharisees, who lectured the people from a high pedestal, He showed not mercy and lovingkindness, but loathing and resentment. He did not do much work among the Pharisees, only occasionally lecturing and rebuking them; He did not go about in their midst doing the work of redemption, nor performing signs and wonders. He bestowed all His mercy and lovingkindness upon His followers, enduring for the sake of these sinners till the very end, when He was nailed to the cross, and suffering every humiliation until He had fully redeemed all humanity. This was the sum total of His work.
Without Jesus’ redemption, mankind would forever have lived in sin, and become the children of sin, the descendants of demons. Going on in this way, the entire earth would have become a lodging place for Satan, a place for its habitation. But the work of redemption required showing mercy and lovingkindness toward mankind; only by this means could mankind receive forgiveness and at last win the right to be made complete and fully gained. Without this stage of work, the six-thousand-year management plan would not have been able to go forward. If Jesus had not been crucified, if He had only healed the people and exorcised their demons, then the people could not have been completely forgiven of their sins. In the three and a half years that Jesus spent doing His work on earth, He completed only half of His work of redemption; then, by being nailed to the cross and becoming the likeness of sinful flesh, by being handed over to the evil one, He completed the work of crucifixion and mastered mankind’s destiny. Only after He was delivered into Satan’s hands did He redeem mankind. For thirty-three and a half years He suffered on earth, being ridiculed, slandered, and forsaken, even to the point where He had no place to lay His head, no place of rest; then He was crucified, with His whole being—an immaculate and innocent body—nailed to the cross, and underwent all manner of suffering. Those in power mocked and scourged Him, and the soldiers even spat in His face; yet He remained silent and endured until the end, submitting unconditionally to the point of death, whereupon He redeemed all of humanity. Only then was He permitted to rest. The work that Jesus did represents only the Age of Grace; it does not represent the Age of Law, nor is it a substitute for the work of the last days. This is the essence of Jesus’ work in the Age of Grace, the second age that mankind has passed through—the Age of Redemption.
from “The True Story Behind Work in the Age of Redemption” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
“Jesus” is Emmanuel, and it means the sin offering that is full of love, full of compassion, and redeems man. He did the work of the Age of Grace, and represents the Age of Grace, and can only represent one part of the management plan. … Only Jesus is the Redeemer of mankind. He is the sin offering that redeemed mankind from sin. Which is to say, the name of Jesus came from the Age of Grace, and existed because of the work of redemption in the Age of Grace. The name of Jesus existed to allow the people of the Age of Grace to be reborn and saved, and is a particular name for the redemption of the whole of mankind. And so the name Jesus represents the work of redemption, and denotes the Age of Grace. … “Jesus” represents the Age of Grace, and is the name of the God of all those who were redeemed during the Age of Grace.
from “The Savior Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud’” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Jesus’ utterances and work at the time did not hold to doctrine, and He did not carry out His work according to the work of the law of the Old Testament. It was according to the work that should be done in the Age of Grace. He labored according to the work that He had brought forth, according to His own plan, and according to His ministry; He did not work according to the law of the Old Testament. Nothing that He did was according to the law of the Old Testament, and He did not come to work to fulfill the words of the prophets. Each stage of God’s work was not expressly in order to fulfill the predictions of the ancient prophets, and He did not come to abide by doctrine or deliberately realize the predictions of the ancient prophets. Yet His actions did not disrupt the predictions of the ancient prophets, nor did they disturb the work that He had previously done. The salient point of His work was not abiding by any doctrine, and doing the work that He Himself should do. He was not a prophet or a seer, but a doer, who actually came to do the work He was supposed to do, and came to open His new era and carry out His new work.
from “Concerning Appellations and Identity” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
There could only be a new age when Jesus came to do new work, to launch a new age, to break through the work previously done in Israel, and to conduct His work not in accordance with the work done by Jehovah in Israel, or with His old rules, or in conformity to any regulations, but rather to do the new work that He should do. God Himself comes to open up an age, and God Himself comes to bring the age to an end. Man is incapable of doing the work of beginning an age and concluding the age. If Jesus did not bring the work of Jehovah to an end, then that would be proof that He was merely a man and incapable of representing God. Precisely because Jesus came and concluded the work of Jehovah, followed on from the work of Jehovah by beginning His own work, new work, it proves that this was a new age, and that Jesus was God Himself.
from “The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins: Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin.
from “The Vision of God’s Work (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
To man, God’s crucifixion concluded the work of God’s incarnation, redeemed all of mankind, and allowed Him to seize the key to Hades. Everyone thinks God’s work has been fully accomplished. In actuality, to God, only a small part of His work has been accomplished. He has only redeemed mankind; He has not conquered mankind, let alone changed the ugliness of Satan in man. That is why God says, “Although My incarnate flesh went through the pain of death, that was not the whole goal of My incarnation. Jesus is My beloved Son and was nailed to the cross for Me, but He did not fully conclude My work. He only did a portion of it.” Thus God began the second round of plans to continue the work of the incarnation. God’s ultimate intention is to perfect and gain everyone rescued from Satan’s hands….
from “Work and Entry (6)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh