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The aim and significance of each of the three stages of God’s work

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2. The aim and significance of each of the three stages of God’s work

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(1) The aim and significance of God’s work in the Age of Law

(1) The aim and significance of God’s work in the Age of Law

Relevant Words of God:

The work that Jehovah did upon the Israelites established among humanity God’s earthly place of origin, which was also the sacred place where He was present. He confined His work to the people of Israel. At first, He did not work outside of Israel, but instead, He chose a people He found suitable in order to restrict the scope of His work. Israel is the place where God created Adam and Eve, and out of the dust of that place Jehovah made man; this place became the base of His work on earth. The Israelites, who were the descendants of Noah and also the descendants of Adam, were the human foundation of Jehovah’s work on earth.

At this time, the significance, purpose, and steps of Jehovah’s work in Israel were to initiate His work on the whole earth, which, taking Israel as its center, gradually spread into the Gentile nations. This is the principle according to which He works throughout the universe—to establish a model and then broaden it until all people in the universe shall have received His gospel. The first Israelites were the descendants of Noah. These people were endowed only with the breath of Jehovah, and understood enough to take care of the basic necessities of life, but they did not know what kind of God Jehovah was, or His will for man, much less how they should revere the Lord of all creation. As for whether there were rules and laws to be obeyed,[a] and whether there was work that created beings should do for the Creator, Adam’s descendants knew nothing of these things. All they knew was that the husband should sweat and labor to provide for his family, and that the wife should submit to her husband and perpetuate the race of humans that Jehovah had created. In other words, this people, who had only Jehovah’s breath and His life, knew nothing of how to follow God’s laws or how to satisfy the Lord of all creation. They understood far too little. So even though there was nothing crooked or deceitful in their hearts and jealousy and contention seldom arose among them, nevertheless they had no knowledge or understanding of Jehovah, the Lord of all creation. These ancestors of man knew only to eat the things of Jehovah, and to enjoy the things of Jehovah, but they did not know to revere Jehovah; they did not know that Jehovah was the One they should worship on bended knees. So how could they be called His creatures? If this were so, would not the words, “Jehovah is the Lord of all creation” and “He created man in order that man might manifest Him, glorify Him, and represent Him” have been spoken in vain? How could people who had no reverence for Jehovah become a testimony to His glory? How could they become manifestations of His glory? Would not Jehovah’s words “I created man in My image” then become a weapon in the hands of Satan, the evil one? Would these words not then become a mark of humiliation to Jehovah’s creation of man? In order to complete that stage of work, Jehovah, after creating mankind, did not instruct or guide them from Adam to Noah. Rather, it was not until after the flood destroyed the world that He formally began to guide the Israelites, who were the descendants of Noah and also of Adam. His work and utterances in Israel gave guidance to all the people of Israel as they lived their lives throughout the land of Israel, thereby showing humanity that Jehovah was not only able to blow breath into man, so that he might have life from Him and rise up from the dust into a created human being, but that He could also incinerate mankind, and curse mankind, and use His rod to govern mankind. So, too, did they see that Jehovah could guide man’s life on earth, and speak and work among humanity according to the hours of the day and of the night. The work He did was only so that His creatures might know that man came from dust picked up by Him, and moreover that man had been made by Him. Not only this, but He first did His work in Israel so that other peoples and nations (who in fact were not separate from Israel, but rather had branched off from the Israelites, yet were still descended from Adam and Eve) might receive the gospel of Jehovah from Israel, so that all created beings in the universe might be able to revere Jehovah and hold Him to be great. Had Jehovah not begun His work in Israel, but instead, having created mankind, let them live carefree lives on the earth, then in that case, owing to man’s physical nature (nature means that man can never know the things he cannot see, which is to say that he would not know that it was Jehovah who created mankind, and even less why He did so), he would never know that it was Jehovah who created mankind or that He is the Lord of all creation. If Jehovah had created man and placed him on the earth, and simply dusted off His hands and left, rather than remaining among mankind to give them guidance for a period of time, then all humanity would have returned to nothingness; even heaven and earth and all the myriad things of His making, and all of humanity, would have returned to nothingness and moreover would have been trampled upon by Satan. In this way Jehovah’s wish that “On the earth, that is, in the midst of His creation, He should have a place to stand, a holy place” would have been shattered. And so, after creating mankind, that He was able to remain in their midst to guide them in their lives, and speak to them from within their midst—all of this was in order to realize His desire, and to achieve His plan. The work He did in Israel was meant only to execute the plan He had made before His creation of all things, and therefore His working first among the Israelites and His creation of all things were not at odds with each other, but were done both for the sake of His management, His work, and His glory, and were done in order to deepen the meaning of His creation of mankind. He guided the life of mankind on earth for two thousand years after Noah, during which He taught humanity to understand how to revere Jehovah, the Lord of all creation, how to conduct their lives, and how to go on living, and most of all, how to act as a witness for Jehovah, render Him obedience, and give Him reverence, even praising Him with music as did David and his priests.

from “The Work in the Age of Law” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

In the beginning, guiding man during the Old Testament Age of Law was like guiding the life of a child. Earliest mankind was newly born of Jehovah; they were the Israelites. They had no understanding of how to revere God or how to live on earth. Which is to say, Jehovah created mankind, that is, He created Adam and Eve, but He did not give them the faculties to understand how to revere Jehovah or follow the laws of Jehovah on earth. Without the direct guidance of Jehovah, no one could know this directly, for in the beginning man did not possess such faculties. Man only knew that Jehovah was God, but as for how to revere Him, what kind of conduct could be called revering Him, with what kind of mind one was to revere Him, or what to offer up in reverence of Him: man had absolutely no idea. Man only knew how to enjoy that which could be enjoyed among all the things created by Jehovah, but regarding what kind of life on earth was worthy of a creature of God, he had no inkling whatsoever. Without someone to instruct them, without someone to guide them personally, this mankind would never have led a life properly befitting humanity, but would only have been furtively held captive by Satan. Jehovah created mankind, that is to say, He created the ancestors of mankind, Eve and Adam, but He did not bestow upon them any further intellect or wisdom. Although they were already living on earth, they understood almost nothing. And so, Jehovah’s work in creating mankind was only half finished, and was far from complete. He had only formed a model of man from clay and given it His breath, but without bestowing unto man sufficient willingness to revere Him. In the beginning, man was not of a mind to revere Him, or to fear Him. Man only knew how to listen to His words but was ignorant of the basic knowledge for life on earth and of the proper rules of human life. And so, although Jehovah created man and woman and finished the project of seven days, He by no means completed the creation of man, for man was but a husk, and lacked the reality of being human. Man only knew that it was Jehovah who had created mankind, but he had no inkling of how to abide by the words or the laws of Jehovah. And so, after mankind came into being, the work of Jehovah was far from over. He still had to fully guide mankind to come before Him, so that they might be able to live together on earth and revere Him, and so that they might be able, with His guidance, to enter upon the right track of a normal human life on earth. Only in this way was the work that had been principally conducted under the name of Jehovah fully completed; that is, only in this way was Jehovah’s work of creating the world fully concluded. And so, having created mankind, He had to guide mankind’s life on earth for several thousand years, in order that mankind might be able to abide by His decrees and laws, and partake in all the activities of a normal human life on earth. Only then was Jehovah’s work fully complete. He undertook this work after creating mankind and continued it until the era of Jacob, at which time He made the twelve sons of Jacob into the twelve tribes of Israel. From that time onward, all the people of Israel became the human race that was officially led by Him on earth, and Israel became the particular location on earth where He did His work. Jehovah made these people the first group of people on whom He officially did His work on earth, and He made the entire land of Israel the point of origin for His work, using them as the beginning of even greater work, so that all people born from Him on earth would know how to revere Him and how to live on earth. And so, the deeds of the Israelites became an example to be followed by the people of Gentile nations, and that which was said among the people of Israel became words to be listened to by the people of Gentile nations. For they were the first to receive the laws and commandments of Jehovah, and so too were they the first to know how to revere the ways of Jehovah. They were the ancestors of the human race who knew the ways of Jehovah, as well as the representatives of the human race chosen by Jehovah.

from “The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

So, you’ve read these regulations and principles of the Age of Law, yes? Do the regulations encompass a broad range? First, they cover the Ten Commandments, after which are the regulations for how to build altars, and so on. These are followed by regulations for keeping the Sabbath and observing the three feasts, after which are the regulations for offerings. Did you see how many types of offerings there are? There are burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and so on. They are followed by regulations for priests’ offerings, including burnt offerings and grain offerings by priests, and other kinds of offerings. The eighth regulations are for the eating of offerings by priests. And then there are regulations for what should be observed during people’s lives. There are stipulations for many aspects of people’s lives, such as the regulations for what they may or may not eat, for the purification of women following childbirth, and for those who have been healed of leprosy. In these regulations, God goes so far as to speak about disease, and there are even rules for the slaughter of sheep and cattle, and so on. Sheep and cattle were created by God, and you should slaughter them however God tells you to; there is, without doubt, reason to God’s words, it is undoubtedly right to act as decreed by God, and surely of benefit to people! There are also feasts and rules to be observed, such as the Sabbath day, Passover, and more—God spoke of all of these. Let us look at the final ones: other regulations—burning the lamps, the Year of Jubilee, the redemption of the land, making vows, the offering of tithes, and so on. Do these encompass a broad range? The first thing to be talked of is the issue of people’s offerings, then there are regulations for theft and compensation, and the observation of the Sabbath day…; every one of life’s details is involved. Which is to say, when God began the official work of His management plan, He set down many regulations that were to be followed by man. These regulations were in order to allow man to lead the normal life of man on earth, a normal life of man that is inseparable from God and His guidance. God first told man how to make altars, how to set up the altars. After that, He told man how to make offerings, and established how man was to live—what he was to pay attention to in life, what he was to abide by, what he should and should not do. What God set out for man was all-embracing, and with these customs, regulations, and principles He standardized people’s behavior, guided their lives, guided their initiation to the laws of God, guided them to come before the altar of God, guided them in having a life among all the things God had made for man that was possessed of order, regularity, and moderation. God first used these simple regulations and principles to set limits for man, so that on earth man would have a normal life of worshiping God, would have the normal life of man; such is the specific content of the beginning of His six-thousand-year management plan. The regulations and rules cover a very broad content, they are the specifics of God’s guidance of mankind during the Age of Law, they had to be accepted and honored by the people who came before the Age of Law, they are a record of the work done by God during the Age of Law, and they are real proof of God’s leadership and guidance of all mankind.

from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Earliest mankind knew nothing, and so God had to begin teaching man from the most superficial and basic principles for survival and regulations necessary for living, imbuing these things in the heart of man bit by bit, and giving man a gradual understanding of God, a gradual appreciation and understanding of God’s leadership, and a basic concept of the relationship between man and God, through these regulations, and through these rules, which were of words. After achieving this effect, only then was God able to, little by little, do the work that He would do later, and thus these regulations and the work done by God during the Age of Law are the bedrock of His work of saving mankind, and the first stage of work in God’s management plan.

from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

During the Age of Law, Jehovah laid down many commandments for Moses to pass on to the Israelites who followed him out of Egypt. These commandments were given by Jehovah to the Israelites and bore no relation to the Egyptians; they were meant to restrain the Israelites, and He used the commandments to make demands of them. Whether they observed the Sabbath, whether they respected their parents, whether they worshiped idols, and so forth—these were the principles by which they were judged sinful or righteous. Among them, there were some who were struck by Jehovah’s fire, some who were stoned to death, and some who received Jehovah’s blessing, and this was determined according to whether or not they obeyed these commandments. Those who did not observe the Sabbath were stoned to death. Those priests who did not observe the Sabbath were struck by Jehovah’s fire. Those who did not show respect to their parents were also stoned to death. This was all commended by Jehovah. Jehovah established His commandments and laws so that, as He led them in their lives, the people would listen to and obey His word and not rebel against Him. He used these laws to keep the newborn human race under control, the better to lay the foundation for His future work. And so, based on the work that Jehovah did, the first age was called the Age of Law. Though Jehovah made many utterances and did much work, He only guided the people positively, teaching these ignorant people how to be human, how to live, how to understand Jehovah’s way. For the most part, the work He did was to cause the people to observe His way and follow His laws. The work was done on people who were shallowly corrupted; it did not extend as far as transforming their disposition or progress in life. He was only concerned with using laws to restrict and control the people. For the Israelites at that time, Jehovah was merely a God in the temple, a God in the heavens. He was a pillar of cloud, a pillar of fire. All Jehovah required them to do was obey what people today know as His laws and commandments—one could even say rules—because what Jehovah did was not meant to transform them, but to give them more things that man ought to have and to instruct them from His own mouth because, after being created, man had nothing that he ought to possess. And so, Jehovah gave to the people the things they ought to possess for their lives on earth, making the people that He had led surpass their ancestors, Adam and Eve, because what Jehovah gave them surpassed what He had given Adam and Eve in the beginning. Regardless, the work Jehovah did in Israel was only to guide humanity and make humanity recognize their Creator. He did not conquer them or transform them, but merely guided them. This is the sum of Jehovah’s work in the Age of Law. It is the background, the true story, the essence of His work in the whole land of Israel, and the beginning of His six thousand years of work—to keep mankind under the control of Jehovah’s hand. Out of this was born more work in His six-thousand-year management plan.

from “The Work in the Age of Law” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

During the Age of Law, the work of guiding mankind was done under the name of Jehovah, and the first stage of work was initiated on earth. At this stage, the work consisted of building the temple and the altar, and using the law to guide the people of Israel and to work in their midst. By guiding the people of Israel, He launched a base for His work on earth. From this base, He expanded His work beyond Israel, which is to say that, starting from Israel, He extended His work outward, so that later generations gradually came to know that Jehovah was God, and that it was Jehovah who created the heavens and earth and all things, and that it was Jehovah who made all creatures. He spread His work through the people of Israel outward beyond them. The land of Israel was the first holy place of Jehovah’s work on earth, and it was in the land of Israel that God first went to work on earth. That was the work of the Age of Law.

from “The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

(2) The aim 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 nailed to the cross, and He also began 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,” and the “Redeemer.” As a result, 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, establishing the base—the point of origin—for God’s work on earth, and issuing the commandments. These are the two pieces of work He carried out, and they represent the Age of Law. The work Jesus did in the Age of Grace was not to issue commandments, but to fulfill them, 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 work was also twofold: opening up a new age, and completing the work of redemption through His crucifixion, after which He departed. At that point, the Age of Law came to an end and mankind entered 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 brought to humanity abundant grace and blessings, and all the things that people could possibly enjoy, He gave to them for their enjoyment: peace and happiness, His tolerance and love, His mercy and lovingkindness. At the time, the abundance of things to enjoy that people were faced with—the sense of peace and security within their hearts, the feeling of reassurance within their spirits, and their dependence on Jesus the Savior—was all down to the age in which they lived. In the Age of Grace, man had already been corrupted by Satan, and so to achieve the work of redeeming all humanity required an abundance of grace, infinite forbearance and patience, and even more than that, an offering sufficient to atone for humanity’s sins, in order to have an effect. What humanity saw in the Age of Grace was merely My offering of atonement for the sins of humanity: Jesus. All they knew was that God could be merciful and forbearing, and all they saw was the mercy and lovingkindness of Jesus. 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 in order to benefit from it. 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, when He became flesh, Jesus had brought the disposition of judgment, curse, and intolerance of man’s offenses, then man would never have had the chance to be redeemed, and would 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 sufficient mercy and lovingkindness, the more mankind was entitled to be saved by Jesus, to be called the lost lambs that Jesus bought back at a great price. Satan could not meddle in this work, for Jesus treated His followers as a loving mother treats the infant at her bosom. He did not grow angry or disdainful toward them, but was full of comfort; He never flew into a rage among them, 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.” Thus were the hearts of others transformed by His heart, and only thus did people receive forgiveness of their sins through His forbearance.

from “The True Story Behind the Work of 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 supported them. However much work He did, or however much suffering He endured, He never made excessive demands of people, but was always patient and forbearing of their sins, such that the people of 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 never based on their transgressions. Because that was a different age, He often bestowed plentiful food upon 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 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 carried out His work of redemption among them. 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 opened the way to the cross in order to redeem mankind. Ultimately, 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. Toward humanity, He was always tolerant, never vengeful, forgiving them their sins, exhorting them to repent, and teaching 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 sick 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 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 did He perform 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 progeny of sin, the descendants of demons. Continuing thus, the whole world would have become the land where Satan dwells, the place of its habitation. The work of redemption, however, required showing mercy and lovingkindness toward mankind; only by such means could mankind receive forgiveness and ultimately win the right to be made complete and fully gained by God. Without this stage of work, the six-thousand-year management plan would not have been able to progress. If Jesus had not been crucified, if He had only healed the sick and exorcised demons, then 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 the destiny of mankind. 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, and He was later crucified, with His whole being—a holy and innocent body—nailed to the cross. He endured every kind of suffering there is. Those in power mocked and whipped 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 the Work of the Age of Redemption” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Then, during the Age of Grace, Jesus came to redeem the whole of fallen humankind (not only the Israelites). He showed mercy and lovingkindness to man. The Jesus that man saw in the Age of Grace was filled with lovingkindness and was always loving toward man, for He had come to save humanity from sin. He was able to forgive men their sins until His crucifixion completely redeemed humankind from sin. During this period, God appeared before man with mercy and lovingkindness; that is, He became a sin offering for man and was crucified for the sins of man, so that they might forever be forgiven. He was merciful, compassionate, patient, and loving. And all those who followed Jesus in the Age of Grace likewise sought to be patient and loving in all things. They were long-suffering, and never fought back even when beaten, cursed, or stoned.

from “The Two Incarnations Complete the Significance of the Incarnation” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

When Jesus came, He also did part of God’s work, and spoke some words—but what was the main work He accomplished? What He mainly accomplished was the work of crucifixion. He became the likeness of sinful flesh to complete the work of crucifixion and redeem all mankind, and it was for the sake of all mankind’s sin that He served as a sin offering. This is the main work He accomplished. Ultimately, He provided the path of the cross to guide those who came later. When Jesus came, it was primarily to complete the work of redemption. He redeemed all mankind, and brought the gospel of the kingdom of heaven to man, and, furthermore, He brought forth the path to the kingdom of heaven. As a result, those who came after all said, “We should walk the path of the cross, and sacrifice ourselves for the cross.” Of course, in the beginning Jesus also did some other work and spoke some words to make man repent and confess his sins. But His ministry was still the crucifixion, and the three and a half years He spent preaching the way were in preparation for the crucifixion that came after. The several times that Jesus prayed were also for the sake of the crucifixion. The life of a normal man that He led and the thirty-three and a half years that He lived on earth were primarily for the sake of completing the work of crucifixion, they were to give Him strength to undertake this work, as a result of which God entrusted the work of crucifixion to Him.

from “All Is Achieved by the Word of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

As for the work of the Age of Grace, Jesus was the God who saved man. What He had and was was grace, love, compassion, forbearance, patience, humility, care, and tolerance, and so much of the work that He did was for the sake of the redemption of man. As for His disposition, it was one of compassion and love, and because He was compassionate and loving, He had to be nailed to the cross for man, in order to show that God loved man as Himself, so much so that He offered up Himself in His entirety. Satan said, “Since You love man, You must then love him to the ultimate extreme: You must be nailed to the cross, to deliver man from the cross, from sin, and You shall offer up Yourself in exchange for all of mankind.” Satan made the following wager: “Since You are a loving and compassionate God, You must love man to the ultimate extreme: You should then offer Yourself up to the cross.” Jesus replied, “As long as it is for mankind, I am willing to lay down My all.” And then He went up onto the cross without the slightest self-regard, and redeemed the whole of mankind. During the Age of Grace, the name of God was Jesus, that is to say, God was a God who saved man, and He was a compassionate and loving God. God was with man. His love, His compassion, and His salvation accompanied each and every person. Only by accepting the name of Jesus and His presence was man able to gain peace and joy, to receive His blessing, His vast and numerous graces, and His salvation. Through the crucifixion of Jesus, all those who followed Him received salvation and were forgiven their sins. During the Age of Grace, Jesus was the name of God. In other words, the work of the Age of Grace was done principally under the name of Jesus. During the Age of Grace, God was called Jesus. He undertook a stage of new work beyond the Old Testament, and His work ended with the crucifixion. This was the entirety of His work.

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

(3) The aim and significance of God’s work in the Age of Kingdom

Relevant Words of God:

When Jesus came into the world of man, He brought the Age of Grace and ended the Age of Law. During the last days, God once more became flesh, and when He became flesh this time, He ended the Age of Grace and brought the Age of Kingdom. All those who accept the second incarnation of God will be led into the Age of Kingdom, and be able to personally accept the guidance of God. Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering, and did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to take on the sins of man as the sin offering, but also required God to do greater work to completely rid man of his disposition, which has been corrupted by Satan. And so, after man was forgiven his sins, God has returned to flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment, and this work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and shall gain the truth, the way, and the life.

from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh

The work of the last days is to speak words. Great changes can be effected in man by means of words. The changes now effected in these people upon their accepting these words are much greater than those effected in people upon their accepting the signs and wonders of the Age of Grace. For, in the Age of Grace, the demons were cast out from man with the laying on of hands and prayer, but the corrupt dispositions within man still remained. Man was healed of his sickness and forgiven his sins, but as for just how man was to be purged of the corrupt satanic dispositions within him, this work had yet to be done. Man was only saved and forgiven his sins for his faith, but the sinful nature of man was not extirpated and still remained within him. The sins of man were forgiven through the agency of the incarnate God, but this does not mean that man no longer has sin within him. The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem. The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within the corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation.

from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The work of the last days is to separate all according to their kind, and to conclude the management plan of God, for the time is near and the day of God has come. God brings all who enter His kingdom—all who are loyal to Him to the very end—into the age of God Himself. Yet prior to the arrival of the age of God Himself, God’s work is not to observe the deeds of man, or to inquire into the life of man, but to judge man’s disobedience, for God shall purify all those who come before His throne. All who have followed the footsteps of God to this day are those who come before the throne of God, and this being so, every single person who accepts God’s work in its final phase is the object of God’s purification. In other words, everyone who accepts God’s work in its final phase is the object of God’s judgment.

from “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

When God becomes flesh this time, His work is to express His disposition, primarily through chastisement and judgment. Using this as the foundation, He brings more truth to man, shows more ways of practice, and so achieves His objective of conquering man and saving man from his corrupt disposition. This is what lies behind the work of God in the Age of Kingdom.

from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh

In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the essence of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God

from “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons had already been planted within him and, after thousands of years of being corrupted by Satan, he has within him an established nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than a case of redemption in which man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within him has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before becoming worthy to serve God. By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt substance within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as through refinement, man can purge away his corruption and be made pure. Rather than deeming this stage of work to be that of salvation, it would be more apt to say it is the work of purification. In truth, this stage is that of conquest as well as the second stage in the work of salvation. It is through judgment and chastisement by the word that man arrives at being gained by God; and it is through the use of the word to refine, judge, and disclose that all of the impurities, notions, motives, and individual aspirations within man’s heart are completely revealed.

from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

God does the work of judgment and chastisement so that man may gain knowledge of Him, and for the sake of His testimony. Without His judgment of man’s corrupt disposition, man could not possibly know His righteous disposition, which brooks no offense, nor would he be able to turn his old knowledge of God into a new one. For the sake of His testimony, and for the sake of His management, He makes His entirety public, thus enabling man, through His public appearance, to arrive at knowledge of God, to be transformed in his disposition, and to bear resounding testimony to God. The transformation of the disposition of man is achieved through many different kinds of God’s work; without such changes in his disposition, man would be unable to bear testimony to God and to be after God’s heart. The transformation of man’s disposition signifies that man has freed himself from Satan’s bondage and from the influence of darkness, and has truly become a model and specimen of God’s work, a witness of God, and one who is after God’s heart. Today, God incarnate has come to do His work on earth, and He requires that man achieve knowledge of Him, obedience to Him, testimony to Him—to know His practical and normal work, to obey all of His words and work which do not accord with the conceptions of man, and to bear testimony to all the work He does to save man as well as all the deeds He accomplishes to conquer man. Those who bear testimony to God must have knowledge of God; only this kind of testimony is accurate and real, and only this kind of testimony can shame Satan. God uses those who have come to know Him through undergoing His judgment and chastisement, dealing and pruning, to bear testimony to Him. He uses those who have been corrupted by Satan to bear testimony to Him, and so too does He use those whose disposition has changed, and who have thus gained His blessings, to bear testimony to Him. He does not need man to praise Him in his mouth, nor does He need the praise and testimony of the ilk of Satan, who have not been saved by Him. Only those who know God are qualified to bear testimony to Him, and only those who have been transformed in their disposition are qualified to bear testimony to Him. God will not allow man intentionally to bring shame upon His name.

from “Only Those Who Know God Can Bear Testimony to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

During the Age of Kingdom, God incarnate speaks words to conquer all those who believe in Him. This is “the Word appearing in the flesh”; God has come during the last days to do this work, which is to say, He has come to accomplish the actual significance of the Word appearing in the flesh. He only speaks words, and rarely is there the advent of facts. This is the very substance of the Word appearing in the flesh, and when God incarnate speaks His words, this is the appearance of the Word in the flesh, and is the Word coming into the flesh. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh.” This (the work of the appearance of the Word in the flesh) is the work that God will accomplish in the last days, and is the final chapter of His entire management plan, and so God has to come to earth and manifest His words in the flesh. That which is done today, that which will be done in the future, that which will be accomplished by God, man’s final destination, those who will be saved, those who will be destroyed, and so on—this work that should be achieved in the end has all been clearly stated, and is all in order to accomplish the actual significance of the Word appearing in the flesh. The administrative decrees and constitution that were previously issued forth, those who will be destroyed, those who will enter into rest—these words must all be fulfilled. This is the work principally accomplished by God incarnate during the last days. He makes people understand where those predestined by God belong and where those not predestined by God belong, how His people and sons will be classified, what will happen to Israel, what will happen to Egypt—in the future, every one of these words will be accomplished. The steps of God’s work are accelerating. God uses the word as the means to reveal to man what is to be done in every age, what is to be done by God incarnate of the last days, and His ministry that is to be performed, and these words are all in order to accomplish the actual significance of the Word appearing in the flesh.

from “All Is Achieved by the Word of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

In the Age of Kingdom, God uses words to usher in the new age, to change the means by which He works, and to do the work of the entire age. This is the principle by which God works in the Age of Word. He became flesh to speak from different perspectives, so that man could truly see God, who is the Word appearing in the flesh, and could behold His wisdom and wondrousness. Such work is done in order better to achieve the goals of conquering man, perfecting man, and eliminating man, which is the true meaning of the use of words to work in the Age of Word. Through these words, people come to know the work of God, the disposition of God, the essence of man, and what man ought to enter into. Through words, the work God wishes to do in the Age of Word is brought to fruition in its entirety. Through these words, people are exposed, eliminated, and tried. People have seen God’s words, heard these words, and recognized the existence of these words. As a result, they have come to believe in the existence of God, in the omnipotence and wisdom of God, as well as in God’s love for man and His desire to save man. The word “words” may be simple and ordinary, but the words spoken from the mouth of the incarnate God shake the universe, they transform people’s hearts, transform their notions and old dispositions, and transform the way the whole world used to appear. Through the ages, only the God of today has worked in this way, and only He speaks thus and comes to save man thus. From this time forward, man lives under the guidance of God’s words, shepherded and supplied by His words. People live in the world of God’s words, amid the curses and the blessings of God’s words, and there are even more people who have come to live under the judgment and chastisement of His words. These words and this work are all for the sake of man’s salvation, for the sake of fulfilling God’s will, and for the sake of changing the original appearance of the world of old creation. God created the world using words, He leads people throughout the universe using words, and He conquers and saves them using words. Ultimately, He shall use words to bring the entire world of old to an end, thus completing the entirety of His management plan.

from “The Age of Kingdom Is the Age of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

In the last days, God principally uses the word to make man perfect. He does not use signs and wonders to oppress man, or convince man; this cannot make plain the power of God. If God only showed signs and wonders, then it would be impossible to make plain the reality of God, and thus impossible to make man perfect. God does not make man perfect by signs and wonders, but uses the word to water and shepherd man, after which is achieved the complete obedience of man and man’s knowledge of God. This is the aim of the work He does and the words He speaks. God does not use the method of showing signs and wonders to make man perfect—He uses words, and uses many different methods of work to make man perfect. Whether it be the refinement, dealing, pruning, or provision of words, God speaks from many different perspectives to make man perfect, and to give man a greater knowledge of the work, wisdom and wondrousness of God.

from “All Is Achieved by the Word of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

In this final stage of work, results are achieved through the agency of the word. Through the word, man comes to understand many mysteries and the work that God has done through generations past; through the word, man is enlightened by the Holy Spirit; through the word, man comes to understand the mysteries never before unraveled by past generations, as well as the work of prophets and apostles of times past, and the principles by which they worked; through the word, man also comes to understand the disposition of God Himself, as well as the rebelliousness and resistance of man, and comes to know his own substance. Through these steps of work and through all the words spoken, man comes to know the work of the Spirit, the work God’s incarnate flesh does, and even more, His entire disposition. Your knowledge of God’s work of management over six thousand years was also gained through the word. Was not the knowledge of your former notions and your success in putting them aside also attained through the word?

from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The greatest significance of the work of words is allowing people to put the truth into practice after having understood it, to achieve changes in their disposition, and to gain knowledge of themselves and of the work of God. Only doing the work by way of speaking words can make possible the communication between God and man, and only words can explain the truth. Working in this way is the best means of conquering man; apart from the utterance of words, no other method is capable of giving people a clearer understanding of the truth and the work of God. Thus, in His final stage of work, God speaks to man in order to unlock for them all the truths and mysteries that they do not yet understand, allowing them to gain from God the true way and the life, thereby meeting His will.

from “You Should Put Aside the Blessings of Status and Understand God’s Will to Bring Salvation to Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Man will be fully made complete in the Age of Kingdom. After the work of conquest, man will be subjected to refinement and tribulation. Those who can overcome and stand testimony during this tribulation are the ones who will ultimately be made complete; they are the overcomers. During this tribulation, man is required to accept this refinement, and this refinement is the last instance of God’s work. It is the last time that man will be refined prior to the conclusion of all the work of God’s management, and all those who follow God must accept this final test, must accept this last refinement.

from “God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

After the conquering work comes the work of rewarding good and punishing evil: People who obey completely, meaning the thoroughly conquered, will be placed in the next step of spreading the work to the entire universe; the unconquered will be placed in darkness and will meet with calamity. Thus, man will be classified according to kind, the evildoers grouped with evil, never again to see the sunlight, and the righteous grouped with good, to receive light and live forever in the light. The end is near for all things, man’s end has been clearly shown to his eyes, and all things will be classified according to kind. How then can people escape suffering this classifying?

from “The Inside Truth of the Conquering Work (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The last days have already arrived. All things in creation will be classed according to their kind, and divided into different categories based on their nature. This is the moment when God reveals humanity’s outcome and their destination. If people do not undergo chastisement and judgment, then there will be no way of exposing their disobedience and unrighteousness. Only through chastisement and judgment can the outcome of all creation be revealed. Man only shows his true colors when he is chastised and judged. Evil shall be put with evil, good with good, and all humanity shall be classified according to their kind. Through chastisement and judgment, the outcome of all creation will be revealed, so that the evil may be punished and the good rewarded, and all people become subject to the dominion of God. All this work must be achieved through righteous chastisement and judgment. Because man’s corruption has reached its peak and his disobedience become exceedingly severe, only God’s righteous disposition, one that is principally compounded of chastisement and judgment and is revealed during the last days, can fully transform and complete man. Only this disposition can expose evil and thus severely punish all the unrighteous.

from “The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The last days are when all things will be classified according to kind through conquering. Conquering is the work of the last days; in other words, judging each person’s sins is the work of the last days. Otherwise, how could people be classified? The classifying work being done among you is the start of such work in the entire universe. After this, people of all nationalities everywhere will also be subjected to the conquering work. This means every person in creation will be classified according to kind, coming before the seat of judgment to be judged. No person and no thing can escape suffering this chastisement and judgment, and no person and no thing can skirt this classifying by kind; everyone will be sorted into classes. That is because the end is near for all things and all the heavens and earth arrive at their conclusion. How can man escape the end of his existence?

from “The Inside Truth of the Conquering Work (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Do you understand now what is judgment and what is truth? If you do, then I exhort you to submit obediently to being judged, otherwise you shall never have the opportunity to be commended by God or to be brought by Him into His kingdom. Those who only accept judgment but can never be purified, that is, those who flee amidst the work of judgment, shall forever be detested and rejected by God. Their sins are more numerous, and more grievous, than those of the Pharisees, for they have betrayed God and are rebels against God. Such people who are not worthy even to do service shall receive more severe punishment, a punishment that is, moreover, everlasting. God shall not spare any traitor who once evinced loyalty with words but then betrayed Him. People such as these shall receive retribution through punishment of the spirit, soul, and body. Is this not precisely a revelation of the righteous disposition of God? Is this not God’s purpose in judging man, and revealing him? God consigns all who perform all kinds of wicked deeds during the time of judgment to a place infested with evil spirits, and lets these evil spirits destroy their fleshly bodies as they wish, and those people’s bodies emit the stench of corpses. Such is their fitting retribution. God writes down in their record books each and every one of the sins of those disloyal false believers, false apostles, and false workers; then, when the time is right, He casts them amidst the unclean spirits, letting these unclean spirits defile their entire bodies at will, so that they may never be reincarnated and never again see the light. Those hypocrites who do service for a time but are incapable of remaining loyal to the end are numbered by God among the wicked, so that they walk in the counsel of the wicked and become part of their disorderly rabble; in the end, God shall annihilate them. God casts aside and takes no notice of those who have never been loyal to Christ or have never contributed anything of their strength, and at the changing of the age He shall annihilate them all. They shall no longer exist on earth, much less gain passage into the kingdom of God. Those who have never been sincere to God, but are forced by circumstance into dealing with Him perfunctorily, are numbered among those who do service for His people. Only a small number of such people will survive, while the majority shall perish along with those who are not qualified even to do service. Ultimately, God shall bring into His kingdom all those who are of the same mind as God, the people and the sons of God, and those predestined by God to be priests. They will be the distillation of God’s work. As for those who cannot be classed in any of the categories set by God, they shall be numbered among the unbelievers—and you can surely imagine what their outcome shall be. I have already said to you all that I should say; the road that you select is your choice alone. What you should understand is this: The work of God never waits for any that cannot keep pace with Him, and the righteous disposition of God shows no mercy to any man.

from “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

When the nations and the peoples of the world all return before My throne, I will thereupon take all the bounty of heaven and confer it upon the human world, so that, thanks to Me, it will brim with matchless bounty. But so long as the old world continues to exist, I will hurl forth My rage upon its nations, openly promulgating My administrative decrees throughout the universe, and visit chastisement on whomever violates them:

As I turn My face to the universe to speak, all mankind hears My voice, and thereupon sees all the works I have wrought throughout the universe. Those who go contrary to My will, that is to say, who oppose Me with the deeds of man, will fall down under My chastisement. I will take the multitudinous stars in the heavens and make them anew, and thanks to Me the sun and the moon will be renewed—the skies will no longer be as they were; the myriad things on the earth will be renewed. All will become complete through My words. The many nations within the universe will be partitioned afresh and replaced by My nation, so that the nations upon the earth will disappear forever and become a nation that worships Me; all the nations of the earth will be destroyed, and will cease to exist. Of the human beings within the universe, all those belonging to the devil will be exterminated; all who worship Satan will be laid low by My burning fire—that is, except for those now within the stream, the rest will be turned to ashes. When I chastise the many peoples, those in the religious world will, to varying extents, return to My kingdom, conquered by My works, because they will have seen the advent of the Holy One riding on a white cloud. All of humanity will follow their own kind, and will receive chastisements varying with what they have done. Those who have stood against Me will all perish; as for those whose deeds on the earth have not involved Me, they will, because of how they have acquitted themselves, continue to exist on the earth under the governance of My sons and My people. I will reveal Myself to the myriad peoples and the myriad nations, sounding forth with My own voice upon the earth to proclaim the completion of My great work for all mankind to see with their own eyes.

from “Chapter 26” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh

His ultimate work of punishing evil and rewarding good is entirely done in order to utterly purify all of humanity, so that He may bring an entirely holy humanity into eternal rest. This stage of His work is His most crucial work. It is the final stage of the whole of His management work. If God did not destroy the wicked but rather let them remain, then the whole of humanity would still not be able to enter into rest, and God would not be able to bring all of humanity into a better realm. This kind of work would not be completely finished. When He finishes His work, the whole of humanity will be entirely holy. Only in this manner can God peacefully live in rest.

from “God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Since God created man, He shall make man worship Him; since He wishes to restore man’s original function, He shall restore it completely, and without any adulteration. Restoring His authority means making man worship Him and making man obey Him; it means that He shall make man live because of Him and make His enemies perish because of His authority; it means that He will make every last part of Him persist among humanity and without any resistance by man. The kingdom He wishes to establish is His own kingdom. The humanity He wishes for is one that worships Him, one that completely obeys Him and has His glory. If He does not save corrupt humanity, the meaning of His creation of man will come to nothing; He will have no more authority among man, and His kingdom will no longer be able to exist upon the earth. If He does not destroy those enemies who are disobedient to Him, He will be unable to obtain His complete glory, nor will He be able to establish His kingdom upon the earth. These are the symbols of the completion of His work and the symbols of the completion of His great accomplishment: to utterly destroy those among humanity who are disobedient to Him, and to bring those who have been made complete into rest.

from “God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

As My words are consummated, the kingdom is gradually formed on earth and man is gradually returned to normality, and thus there is established on earth the kingdom in My heart. In the kingdom, all the people of God recover the life of normal man. Gone is the frosty winter, replaced by a world of cities of spring, where it is spring all year round. No longer are people faced with the gloomy, miserable world of man, no longer do they endure the cold chill of the world of man. People do not fight with each other, countries do not go to war against each other, no longer is there carnage and the blood that flows from carnage; all lands are filled with happiness, and everywhere teems with warmth between men.

from “Chapter 20” of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Footnotes:

a. The original text does not contain the phrase “to be obeyed.”

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