Humanity is struck dumb at God’s utterances as they realize that God has worked a great deed in the realm of the spirit, something of which man is incapable and that only God Himself can accomplish. For this reason, God once again puts forward words of leniency to humankind, which leave people’s hearts filled with contradictions, wondering: “God is a God without mercy or love, but rather a God dedicated to striking down humanity; so why should He show us clemency? Could it be that God has once again shifted into a method?” At the moment this notion, this thought takes shape inside their minds, they struggle against it with all their might. Nevertheless, after God’s work has progressed for another length of time, the Holy Spirit has undertaken a great working within the church, and every single human being has set to work to perform his function, then at that time all humanity has entered upon this method of God’s. This is because no one can see any imperfection in what God says and does, and as for what God will actually do next, no one can know or even guess at it. As God has said with His own mouth: “Of all the people living under heaven, is there anyone who is not within the palm of My hand? Is there anyone who does not act according to My direction?” But I offer you a bit of advice: In matters that you do not completely understand, do not, anyone of you, either speak or act. What I have just said is not to squelch your enthusiasm, but to encourage you to follow God’s direction in your actions. On no account should you, because of what I said about “imperfections,” lose heart or fall into doubt: My purpose is chiefly to remind you to pay attention to God’s words. When God says: “In matters within the spirit, you should be delicately sensitive; to My words, you should be carefully attentive. You should aim for the state in which you see My Spirit and My fleshly self, My words and My fleshly self, as one indivisible whole, so that all of humanity will be able to satisfy Me in My presence,” reading these words, humanity is, once again, dumbstruck. What they saw yesterday was a word of warning, was an instance of God’s clemency, but today the talk has turned suddenly to matters within the spirit—what in the world does this mean? Why does God keep changing His manner of speaking? And why is all this to be regarded as one indivisible whole? Could it be that God’s words lack reality? Ruminating upon these words, one realizes this: When God’s Spirit and flesh are separate, then that flesh is a physical body with the attributes of a physical body, in other words, what people call a walking corpse. The incarnate flesh originates in the Spirit: He is the incarnation of the Spirit, that is, the Word become flesh. In other words, God Himself lives within the flesh. From this one can see wherein lies the grave mistake of trying to separate the Spirit from the man. For this reason, even though He is called “man,” He does not belong to the human race, and has no human attributes: This is the man in which God clothes Himself, this is the man that God approves. Within the words is embodied God’s Spirit, and the words of God are directly revealed in the flesh. This makes it all the more clear that God lives in the flesh and is a more practical God, from which it is proven that God exists, thus bringing to an end the age of humanity’s rebellion against God. Then, having instructed humanity about the path leading to knowledge of God, God changes the subject again, and takes up another aspect of the problem.
“I have trodden the universe with My feet, stretching out My gaze over its entire expanse, and I have walked in the midst of all mankind, tasting the sweet, sour, bitter, and pungent flavors of human experience.” This statement, notwithstanding its simplicity, is far from easy to comprehend. Although the subject has changed, in essence it remains the same: It still enables humanity to know Him in His incarnate flesh. Why does God say that He has tasted the sweet, sour, bitter, and pungent flavors of human experience? Why does He say that He has walked in the midst of all mankind? God is Spirit, but He is also a man incarnate. The Spirit, not bound by the limitations of the man, can tread all over the universe, encompassing the cosmos in a sweeping glance. From this one can see that the Spirit of God fills the cosmic expanse and covers the earth from pole to pole; there is no place that has not been laid out by His hands, no place that does not bear the trace of His footsteps. Even though the Spirit, becoming flesh, is born as a man, He does not, on account of His existence as a Spirit, cease to need all the things that men need, but rather, like an ordinary man, eats food, wears clothes, sleeps, and resides in a dwelling place, doing everything that an ordinary man does. At the same time, the inner essence being different, He is not the same as what one usually speaks of as a man. Though He endures all of the sufferings of mankind, He does not on that account abandon the Spirit; though He enjoys blessing, He does not on that account forget the Spirit. The Spirit and the man are conjoined in silent rapport; the two cannot be sundered, and have never been sundered. Because the man is the incarnation of the Spirit, and comes from the Spirit, from the Spirit that has a form, so the Spirit that inheres in the flesh is not transcendent, that is, He cannot do extraordinary things, which is to say, this Spirit cannot leave the physical body, for if He did, God’s act in becoming flesh would lose all its meaning. Only when the Spirit is fully expressed in the physical body can humanity be made to know the practical God Himself, and only then is God’s will fulfilled. It is only after God presents the Spirit and the flesh separately to humanity that He points out man’s blindness and disobedience: “but man never truly recognized Me, nor did he notice Me as I walked abroad.” On the one hand, God says that, unbeknownst to the world, He hides Himself in a body of flesh, never doing anything supernatural for men to see; on the other, He complains against humanity for not knowing Him. There is, however, no contradiction in this. In fact, viewed in its details, it is not difficult to see that there are two sides to the way in which God achieves His aims. Now, if God were to perform supernatural signs and wonders, then, without having to undertake any great work, He would simply curse a man to death with His own mouth, the man would die on the spot, and in this way every human being would be convinced; but this would not achieve the aim of God in becoming flesh. If God were truly to do this, humanity would never be able, with their conscious minds, to believe in His existence, would never be able truly to believe, and moreover would mistake the devil for God. Even more importantly, humanity would never know God’s disposition: Is this not one aspect of the meaning of God’s being in the flesh? If humanity is incapable of knowing God, then it will always be a vague God, a supernatural God, who holds sway in the human realm: Would this not be a case of man’s notions taking possession of man? Or, to restate this more plainly, would not Satan, the devil, be holding sway? “Why do I say I take back My power? Why do I say that the incarnation has too many meanings?” The moment God becomes flesh, this is when He takes back His power; it is also when His divinity comes forth directly to do His work. Step by step, every human being comes to know the practical God, and because of this the place held by Satan in the human heart is completely suppressed while God’s place is augmented. Formerly, the God that existed in men’s minds was perceived as a satanic image, a God that was intangible, invisible, and yet one believed this God not only to exist but also to be capable of performing all manner of supernatural signs and wonders and revealing all manner of mysteries, such as the hideousness of the demon-possessed. This is sufficient to prove that the God in men’s minds is not an image of God but rather the image of a being other than God. God says that He wants to take up a place occupying 0.1 percent of the human heart, and that this is the highest standard that He demands of humanity. Not only is there a superficial side to this statement; there is also a realistic side. If it were not explained in this way, people would consider the demands that God makes of them as being too low, as though God understood too little about them. Is this not human psychology?
If one takes the above and puts it together with the example of Peter below, they will find that Peter was indeed the man who knew God best, because he was able to turn his back on the vague God and pursue knowledge of the practical God. Why did God make a special point of noting that his parents were devils who opposed God? From this it is proven that Peter was not pursuing the God in his own heart, and that his parents represent the vague God: This is God’s intent in raising the example of Peter’s parents. The great majority of people pay no particular regard to this fact, concentrating their attention instead on the prayers of Peter, to the point where some even keep Peter’s prayers constantly in their mouths and on their minds, but without ever thinking to contrast the vague God with Peter’s knowledge. Why did Peter turn against his parents and seek to know God? Why did he integrate the lessons learned from those who had failed in the past in order to spur himself on to greater effort? Why did he assimilate the faith and love of all those who had loved God throughout the ages? Peter understood that everything positive originates from God—it comes straight from God without undergoing any processing by Satan. From this one can see that the One he knew was the practical God and not a supernatural God. Why does God say that Peter paid special attention to assimilating the faith and the love of all those who loved God throughout the ages? From this one can see that the chief reason why men have failed throughout the ages is that they only possessed faith and love but did not know the practical God, and so their belief continued to be vague. Why does God only mention Job’s faith many times without once saying that he knew God, and moreover call him Peter’s inferior? From Job’s words, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees You,” one can see that Job possessed only faith but no knowledge. Reading the statement, “With the counterexample of his parents to serve as a foil, this enabled him all the more readily to recognize My love and mercy,” most people will be prompted to raise a host of questions: Why is it that Peter knows God only when set off against a counterexample, but not directly? Why is it that he knows only mercy and love, but other things are not mentioned? It is only when one recognizes the unreality of the vague God that one becomes able to pursue the knowledge of the practical God. The aim of this utterance is to lead people to eradicate the vague God from their hearts. If humanity had always known God’s true face, from the beginning of creation down to the present day, then they would not have become thoroughly familiar with Satan’s ways, as is known from the proverb, “One doesn’t notice level ground until one has crossed a mountain,” which makes sufficiently clear God’s meaning in speaking these words. Because He wishes to lead people to comprehend more deeply the truth of the example He has raised, God places deliberate emphasis on mercy and love, proving that the age in which Peter lived was the Age of Grace. Viewed from another perspective, this reveals all the more vividly the hideous countenance of the devil, who only entraps and corrupts humanity, and thereby sets off, in even starker contrast, God’s love and mercy.
God also outlines the facts about Peter’s trials and furthermore describes their actual circumstance, so that people might better discern the following: that God does not only have mercy and love, but He has also majesty and wrath, and that those who live in peace are not necessarily living in the midst of God’s blessing. Moreover, telling people about Peter’s experiences following his trials demonstrates even more clearly the veracity of these words of Job: “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” This is sufficient to show that Peter had arrived at an unprecedented knowledge of God, something that no one in any preceding age had ever attained: This was what Peter gained when he assimilated the faith and love of all those who had loved God throughout the ages and integrated the lessons of past failures in order to encourage himself. For this reason, anyone who attains real knowledge of God is called a “fruit,” and Peter is one among these. In Peter’s prayers to God one can see the real knowledge of God that he gained through his trials, but the one small flaw is that he was unable fully to fathom God’s will. This is why, building upon the foundation of the knowledge of God attained by Peter, God has set forth a demand of “occupying only 0.1 percent of the human heart.” Taking into consideration the fact that even Peter, the man who knew God best, was unable accurately to grasp God’s will, it can only be concluded that humanity is simply not equipped with an organ for knowing God, because Satan has already corrupted man to such an extent, and this leads all people to know the essence of humanity. These two preconditions—that humanity lacks an organ for knowing God and has moreover been permeated by Satan through and through—provide a setting to show off God’s great power, for God, merely through the expenditure of words and without even having to undertake any kind of work, has taken up a certain position in the human heart. Why is it that arriving at 0.1 percent means arriving at the fulfillment of God’s will? To explain this in terms of the fact that God did not endow man with the organ in question: If, in the absence of this organ, humanity were to arrive at a hundred percent of knowledge, then God’s every movement and action would become an open book to man, and, given man’s inherent nature, he would instantly rebel against God, rising up to oppose Him publicly (this is the way Satan fell). And so God never underestimates man. This is because He has already thoroughly dissected man, so that He knows everything with crystal clarity even down to how much water is mixed in with his blood: How much the more clearly He understands man’s apparent nature? God never commits errors, and moreover, in making His utterances, He chooses His words with considerable precision. For this reason, the fact that Peter was inaccurate in grasping at God’s will does not contradict the fact that he is also the one man who knew God best, and what is more the two are completely unrelated. It was not in order to focus people’s attention on Peter that God raised his example. Why was Peter able to attain knowledge of God if even someone like Job could not? Why would He say that a man is capable of achieving it and yet also say that it is due to God’s great power? Is it really the case that the innate endowment of humanity is good? People do not find it easy to grasp this point—no one would know its inner meaning unless I explained it. The aim of these words is to enable human beings to arrive at some form of perception, from which they will gain confidence to cooperate with God. Only in this way can God, supported by man’s efforts to cooperate with Him, take action: This is the actual situation in the realm of the spirit, something that humanity is completely unable to fathom. To do away with the position that Satan occupies in the human heart and thenceforth enable God to take possession, this is called repelling Satan’s attack; only when this is done can it be said that Christ has descended onto the earth, and only then can it be said that the kingdoms of the world have become Christ’s kingdom.
Here it is mentioned that Peter has been an exemplar and a model for mankind for thousands of years. This is not merely for the sake of expounding the fact that he is an exemplar and a model: These words are a reflection of the actual scene of a battle in the spiritual realm. All this time Satan has been working on man, in the vain hope of swallowing up humanity and thereby causing God to destroy the world and lose His witness. But God said: “I will first create a model so that I may take up the smallest position within the human heart. At this stage, humanity neither pleases nor fully knows Me; nevertheless, relying on My great power, man will become able to submit to Me wholly and cease to rebel against Me, and I will use this example to vanquish Satan, that is to say, I will use My position consisting of 0.1 percent to repress all the forces that Satan has been wielding over man.” And so, today, God has raised the example of Peter that he may serve the whole of mankind as a pattern to follow. Putting this together with the opening passage, one can see the veracity of what God said about the actual situation in the realm of the spirit: “Things are not now as they once were: I am going to do things that, since the beginning of creation, the world has never seen, I am going to speak words that, throughout the ages, men have never heard, because I ask that all humanity come to know Me in the flesh.” From this one can see, what God spoke about He has begun upon today. Human beings can only see things as they appear on the outside and not the actual situation within the realm of the spirit. For this reason, God said in a direct and straightforward manner: “These are steps in My management, about which humanity has not the faintest inkling. Even when I speak of them openly, man is still so befuddled in his mind that it is impossible to articulate them to him in every detail. Herein lies man’s abject lowliness, does it not?” There are unspoken words inside these words, explaining that a battle has taken place in the spiritual realm, as alluded to above.
Outlining Peter’s story still did not fully attain God’s will, so God made the following demand in relation to the events in Peter’s life: “Throughout the universe and the limitless expanses of the firmament, among all things in heaven and earth, the myriad things on earth, and the myriad things in heaven are each and every one consecrating their whole strength for the sake of My last stage of work. Surely you do not wish to remain spectators on the sidelines, driven hither and yon by Satan’s forces?” Witnessing Peter’s knowledge was profoundly enlightening for humanity, and so, in order to achieve even better fruits, God allows humanity to see the consequences of wanton unrestraint and ignorance of Him, and moreover tells humanity—one more time and with greater precision—about the actual circumstances of the battle in the realm of the spirit. It is only in this way that mankind can become more cautious in safeguarding themselves against being captured by Satan; further, it makes clear that, this time, if they fall, they will not receive salvation from God again as they did this time. Taken together, these several warnings, in deepening humanity’s impression of God’s words, have made people cherish His mercy more dearly and hold His words of warning more closely, thus truly arriving at God’s aim of saving mankind.