Just as God said, “None can grasp the root of My words or the purpose behind them.” If it weren’t for the guidance of the Spirit of God, if it weren’t for the advent of His words, all would perish under His chastisement. Why does God test man for so long? And for as long as five months? This is the focal point of our fellowship as well as a central point in God’s wisdom. We can assume this: Were it not for this trial, and without God attacking, killing, and hacking away at the corrupt humanity, if the building of the church continued until today, then what would that accomplish? So in the first line of His speech, God gets straight to the point and explains the desired effect of these months’ work, and it is painfully accurate! It goes to show the wisdom of God’s deeds over this period of time: teaching the people to learn submission and sincere dedication through the trial, as well as how to better understand God through painful refinement. The more despair people experience, the more they are able to understand themselves. And to tell the truth, the more painful refinement they face, the more they can understand their own corruption, and in doing so they even learn that they are not worthy of being a service-doer for God, and rendering this kind of service is being elevated by Him. And so once this is achieved, once man has depleted himself, God utters the words of mercy, not hidden but in plain sight. It is clear that after several months, God’s new[a] approach of work starts today; this is plain for all to see. In the past, God often said “it is not easy to earn the right to be called My people,” so as He has fulfilled these words in the people who are referred to as service-doers, all may see God can be trusted without any error. All of what God says will come true to varying degrees, and His words are not in the least bit empty.
When all of man is distraught and aggrieved, these words from God hit home with all who find themselves hopeless, reviving them. In order to eliminate further doubt, God added that “although they are referred to as My people, this title is not at all inferior to being called My ‘sons.’” Here one can see that only God can protect His own authority, and when the people have read it they believe more strongly that this is not a way of working, but fact. Furthermore, so that people’s visions are not murky, in His new approach all people’s identities are made clear. From this, one can see the wisdom of God. This way people can better understand that God can see through the hearts of men; just like puppets, all they do and all they think are manipulated by God. This is absolute.
Back to the beginning, what God said first was that the first step of His work, “purifying the church,” has been completed. “The situation is not what it once was, and My work has entered a new starting point.” From this statement, one can see that God’s work has entered a new starting point, and soon after He pointed out the blueprints for the next step of His work to us—after finishing the building of the church, the life of the Age of Kingdom will begin. “For it is now no longer the era of church building, but rather the era in which the kingdom is successfully built.” In addition, He has expressed that as the people are still on the earth, their assemblies will continue to be referred to as the church, and in this way the unrealistic realization of the kingdom of people’s imaginations is avoided. Next, I’ll have fellowship on the issue of visions.
Now is the era of kingdom building and the end of church building; and yet, why is it all assemblies will still be called the church? Formerly the church was referred to as the precursor to the kingdom; without the church there could be no kingdom. The Age of Kingdom begins with God performing His ministry in the flesh, and the Age of Kingdom is brought about by God incarnate. What He brings is the Age of Kingdom, not the official descent of the kingdom. This is not difficult to imagine; the people spoken of are people of the Age of Kingdom, not the people of the kingdom itself. Thus, it makes sense that assemblies on earth would still be referred to as the church. In the past, He acted through His normal humanity, and was not witnessed as God Himself, so the Age of Kingdom hadn’t yet started among man; that is, as I have said, My Spirit had not yet officially begun to work in My incarnate flesh. Now that God Himself has been witnessed, the kingdom is realized among man. This signifies that I will begin to work through divinity, and so those who can appreciate My words and My deeds in divinity are known as My people of the Age of Kingdom, and so this is how the term “My people” arises. In this stage, I primarily work and speak through My divinity. Man cannot interfere, nor can he disrupt My plan. Once God’s word has reached a certain point, His name is witnessed, and His trials of mankind commence. This is the greatest example of God’s wisdom. This lays a firm foundation and sets down roots for the beginning of the next step as well as the end of the last step. Man had no way of knowing that; this is the meeting point of the first and second portions of the era of judgment. Without a few months of refinement of man, I was unable to work through My divinity. These months of refinement open the way for the next step of My work. The end of these few months’ work is a sign of going deeper into the next phase of work. If one truly understands the words of God, one may grasp that He is using these months to start the next step of His work so that it may be more fruitful. The obstruction of My humanity has created a barrier for the next step of My work, so through these months of painful refinement, both sides are edified and benefit from that. It is only now that man begins to treasure My form of address. And so with the turn of His pen, when God said He would no longer call man “service-doer,” but rather “His people,” all of them were overcome with joy. This was man’s Achilles’ heel. God had captured it.
In order to further convince all of mankind and to point out the impurities within some people’s devotion, God has gone further to point out mankind’s various ugly features, and in this way has fulfilled His words like the following: “How many truly love Me? Who is not acting out of consideration for their own futures? Who has never complained during their trials?” From these words, men can see their own disobedience, disloyalty and lack of filial piety, and thus see God’s mercy and love following all of those who seek Him every step of the way. This can be seen from these words: “When a portion of man is on the brink of retreat, when all who hope for Me to change My manner of speech lose hope, I utter the words of salvation, and bring all who truly love Me back to My kingdom, before My throne.” Here, the phrase “those who truly love Me,” and the rhetorical question “How many truly love Me?” aren’t in conflict. It indicates that those who are true have impurities. It is not as if God knows nothing. Since God can see the innermost hearts of men, the word “true” is used sarcastically in reference to the corrupt mankind, so that all of man can better see their indebtedness to God, take more blame, as well as understand the fact that the resentment in their hearts comes entirely from Satan. People are surprised when they see the word “devotion.” They think: “How many times have I railed against Heaven and earth? And how many times have I wanted to leave, but because I feared God’s administrative decrees I just got by and went along with the crowd, waiting for God to sort it out? If it turned out there was truly no hope, then I would gradually back out. Now God calls us His devoted people, so does this mean God really can see through the innermost hearts of men?” It wasn’t until the very end that God pointed out the inner states of various kinds of people in order to avoid this type of misunderstanding. This made mankind who was first suspicious in their hearts but happy in their words enter a state of conviction in heart, words, and eyes. In this way, man’s impression of God’s word has grown more profound, and accordingly man has grown more fearful, more reverent, and has gained a better understanding of God. Finally, to alleviate man’s fear of the future, God said: “But as the past is the past, and now is the present, there is no need to long for the past any longer, or to worry about the future.” This type of urgent, harmonious, yet terse manner of speaking has an even greater effect, allowing all who read His words to see the light once more in their despair, then see God’s wisdom and deeds, then gain the title of “God’s people,” after that eliminate the doubts in their hearts, and then learn to know themselves from their various internal states. These states appear in turn, both sorrow and grief, and happiness and joy. God has captured a lifelike outline of people in this chapter. It is vivid to the point of perfection, something man cannot achieve. It truly exposes the secrets deepest in the heart of man. Is this something that man could do?
Even more important is the passage below, in which God directly reveals to man His administrative decree. And this is the most important part: “Among men, those who go against reality and do not do things according to My guidance will not come to a good end, and will only bring trouble upon themselves. Of everything that occurs in the universe, there is nothing that I do not have the final say in.” Is this not the administrative decree of God? It goes to show that there are countless examples of those who act against this administrative decree. Furthermore, it warns everyone not to think of their own destiny. If one wishes to escape God’s orchestration, the consequences will be dire beyond imagining. Thus, it makes all those who experience enlightenment and illumination in these words better able to understand God’s administrative decree as well as understand that His majesty must not be offended, thereby becoming more experienced and staid, verdant like a weathered pine that defies the threat of the bitter cold, continuing to add to nature’s thriving green vitality. This statement makes most people feel dizzyingly bewildered, as if they have wandered into some sort of maze; this is because the content of God’s words changes relatively quickly, so nine out of ten people enter into a labyrinth when they attempt to understand their own corrupt dispositions. For the sake of working more smoothly, eliminating man’s doubts, and so that all may further believe in God’s faithfulness, He emphasizes at the end of that passage: “each and every one of those who truly love Me shall return before My throne.” Thus, all those who have undergone months of His work are alleviated of their sorrow in an instant; their hearts, which had felt as if they were suspended in midair, return home like a stone falling to solid ground; they no longer worry about their fate, and no longer believe that God will speak empty words. As men are self-righteous, there is not a single one who does not believe that they display the utmost of devotion toward God; this is why God deliberately emphasizes “truly”—it is to achieve greater outcomes. This is to pave the way and lay the foundation for the next step in His work.
a. The original text does not contain the word “new.”