On February 11, 1991, God made His first utterance in the church that had an extraordinary effect upon every single one of the people living in the stream of the Holy Spirit at that time. This utterance made mention of the following: “God’s dwelling place has appeared” and “The Head of the universe, Christ of the last days—He is the shining Sun.” With these deeply significant words, all of these people were brought into a new realm. All those who read this utterance felt an intimation of the new work, the great work that God was about to initiate. It was this beautiful, mellifluous, and concise utterance that brought all humanity into God’s new work and into a new age, and that laid the foundation and set the stage for God’s work in this incarnation. One could say that the utterance God made at this time is one that bridges the ages; that it is the first time since the beginning of the Age of Grace that God has publicly spoken to the human race; further, that it is the first time He has spoken after remaining hidden for two thousand years; and, what is more, that it is a lead-in, a crucial starting point, for the work God is about to undertake in the Age of Kingdom.
The first time God made an utterance, He did so in the form of praise from a third-person perspective, in language that was at once elegant and refined and plain and homespun, as well as a provision of life that was readily and easily grasped. With this, He took this little group of people, who knew only how to enjoy His grace while eagerly anticipating the Lord Jesus’ return, and brought them silently into another stage of work in God’s management plan. Under these circumstances, humanity did not know, and still less dared to imagine, what kind of work God was ultimately going to do, or what lay in store on the road ahead. Thereafter, God continued to make more utterances to bring mankind step by step into the new age. Astonishingly, God’s every utterance is different in content and moreover uses different forms of praise and modes of expression. These utterances, similar in tone but diverse in content, are invariably filled with God’s feelings of care and concern, and almost each one contains provisions of life with different content as well as words of reminder, exhortation, and comfort from God to man. In these utterances, passages like this appear repeatedly: “The one true God has become flesh, He is the Head of the universe who commands all things”; “The triumphant King sits upon His glorious throne”; “He holds the universe in His hands”; and so forth. A message is conveyed in these passages, or one could say that these passages transmit a message to the human race: God has already come into the human world, God is going to initiate an even greater work, God’s kingdom has already descended into a certain group of people, and God has already gained glory and defeated the multitudes of His enemies. Each of God’s utterances catches hold of the heart of every single human being. All humanity waits eagerly for God to give voice to even more new words, because every time God speaks, He shakes man’s heart to its roots, and what is more He has charge of and props up man’s every movement and every emotion, so that humanity begins to rely upon and even more to look up to God’s words…. In this way, unwittingly, a great many people had essentially forgotten the Bible, and gave even shorter shrift to old-fashioned sermons and the writings of spiritual persons, because they were unable to find in the writings of the past any basis for these words of God, nor were they able to discover anywhere God’s purpose in making these utterances. This being so, how much the more did it behoove humanity to admit that these utterances are God’s voice neither seen nor heard since the beginning of time, that they lie beyond the reach of any person who believes in God, and that they surpass all utterances made by any spiritual person living in ages past or by God in the past. Spurred on by each of these utterances, humanity entered unawares into the aura of the work of the Holy Spirit, into life on the front ranks of the new age. Spurred on by God’s words, humanity, filled with anticipation, tasted the sweetness of being led in person by God’s words. I believe this fleeting period to be a time that every human being will look back on with enduring remembrance, when in fact what humankind enjoyed during this period was no more than an aura of the work of the Holy Spirit, or one could call it the sweet taste of a sugar coating. This is because, from this point onward, still under the guidance of God’s words, still in the aura of the work of the Holy Spirit, humanity was unwittingly led into another phase of God’s words, which was the first step in the work wrought by God’s utterance in the Age of Kingdom—the trial of service-doers.
The words uttered before the trial of service-doers were mostly in the form of instruction, exhortation, reproof, and discipline, and in some places they made use of the old form of address employed in the Age of Grace—using “My sons” for those who followed God in order to make it easier for humanity to draw close to God, or so that humanity might regard their relationship with God to be close. In this way, whatever judgment God executed on mankind’s self-conceit, arrogance, and other corrupt dispositions, man would be able to deal with and accept it in his identity of “son,” without bearing antagonism toward the utterances of “God the Father,” on top of which the promise that “God the Father” made to His “sons” was never in doubt. During this period, all humanity enjoyed an existence as free from trouble as that of an infant, and this achieved God’s purpose, which is, when they entered into adulthood, He would begin to execute judgment on them. This also laid the foundation for the work of judging the human race that God formally launches in the Age of Kingdom. Because the work of God in this incarnation is chiefly to judge and conquer the whole human race, as soon as man planted his feet firmly on the ground, God forthwith entered into the mode of His work—into the work in which He judges man and chastises him. Manifestly, all the utterances before the trial of service-doers were made for the sake of getting through the transition, the true aim being other than what it appeared to be. God’s eager intention was that He might be able as soon as possible formally to launch His work in the Age of Kingdom. By no means did He wish to continue to coax mankind forward by feeding it tidbits coated in sugar; rather, He was eager to see the true countenance of every human being before His judgment seat, and even more eagerly He wished to see the real attitude that the whole of humanity would bear toward Him after losing His grace. He wished only to see results, not the process. But at that time there was no one who understood God’s eager intention, because the human heart was concerned only with its destination and with its future prospects. Small wonder that God’s judgment had been directed, time and time again, at the entire human race. It was only when humanity, under God’s guidance, started living the normal life of human beings that God’s attitude toward mankind changed.
1991 was an unusual year; let us call this year a “golden year.” God launched the new work of the Age of Kingdom and directed His utterance at the whole of the human race. At the same time, humanity enjoyed unprecedented warmth and, even more, experienced the pain that follows upon God’s unprecedented judgment of man. The human race tasted a sweetness hitherto unknown and felt, also hitherto unknown, judgment and abandonment, as if it had gained God, and again as if it had lost God. Suffering in possession and suffering in privation—these feelings are known only by those who personally experienced them; they are something that man has neither the ability nor the means to describe. Wounds of this kind are what God bestowed on every human being as a form of intangible experience and asset. The content of the utterances God made in this year actually falls into two major divisions: The first is the part where God descended into the world of men to invite humanity to come before His throne as guests; the second, the part where mankind, having eaten and drunk to its fill, was employed by God as service-doers. Of course it goes without saying that the first part is humanity’s dearest and most earnest wish, all the more so since human beings have long been habituated to making the enjoyment of God’s everything into the object of their belief in Him. This is why, as soon as God began to give voice to His utterance, humanity was all ready to enter the kingdom and waited there for God to bestow different rewards upon them. People in these circumstances simply did not pay the proper price by transforming their dispositions, seeking to satisfy God, showing consideration for God’s will, and so forth. At a superficial glance, human beings seemed to be constantly bustling about as they expended themselves and worked for God, while they were in fact calculating, in the secret recesses of their inmost hearts, the next step they should take to win blessings or reign as kings. One could say that, as the human heart was enjoying God, it was at the same time scheming against God. Humanity in this condition meets with God’s deepest abhorrence and detestation; God’s disposition does not tolerate any human being deceiving or using Him. But God’s wisdom is unreachable to any human being. It was in the midst of enduring all these sufferings that He spoke the first portion of His utterances. How much suffering God endured, and how much care and thought He expended at this time, no human being is capable of imagining. The aim of the first portion of these utterances is to expose all the different forms of ugliness that man shows when faced with position and profit, and to expose man’s greed and contemptibility. Even though, in speaking, God couches His words in the sincere and earnest tone of a loving mother, the wrath in His inmost heart blazes like the noonday sun that He directs against His enemies. God is unwilling under any circumstances to speak to a group of people who are lacking in the normal likeness of the human race, and so, whenever He speaks, He is repressing the wrath inside His heart while at the same time constraining Himself to give expression to His utterance. What is more, He is speaking to a human race devoid of the normal humanity, bereft of reason, corrupt to the extreme, with greed turned to second nature, and disobedient and rebellious against God to the bitter end. The depths to which the race of man has fallen can easily be imagined, and even more so God’s loathing and disgust for the race of man can easily be imagined, but the human race has difficulty imagining that the hurt they have inflicted on God is impossible to describe in words. But it was precisely against this background—where no one was able to discover how God’s heart is suffering, and moreover no one discovered how unreasonable and incorrigible the human race is—that every single person, without an ounce of shame or a single jot of scruple, took it for granted that they had a right as God’s sons to receive all the rewards He had prepared for man, even to the point of vying one with another, with no one wishing to fall behind and all being deeply afraid of losing out. You should know by now what kind of position the people at that time occupied in God’s eyes. How can a race of men like this attain God’s rewards? But that which man receives from God is at all times the most precious treasure, and conversely that which God receives from man is supreme pain. Ever since the beginning of the relationship between God and man, this is what man has always received from God and what he has always given God in return.
As much as God burned with anxiety, when He saw this race of human beings, corrupt to the very core, He had no choice but to throw it into the lake of fire so that it might be refined. This is the second portion of God’s utterance, in which God employed mankind as His service-doers. In this portion, God went from soft to harsh, and from few to many, in terms of both method and length, using the position of “God’s person” as bait to expose man’s corrupt nature while at the same time putting forward the different categories of[a] service-doers, people, and sons for humanity to choose from. Sure enough, just as God had predicted, no one chose to become a service-doer for God, and instead all strove to become God’s person. Even though, during this period, the severity with which God spoke was something that human beings never anticipated and still less heard of, nevertheless, being excessively concerned with status and, on top of this, being feverishly preoccupied with winning blessings, they had no time to form a notion about God’s tone of speaking and His mode of speaking, remaining hell-bent instead on their own status and what the future holds in store. In this way, mankind was brought, unawares, by God’s utterance into the labyrinth He had laid out for them. Enticed, willy-nilly, by the lure of the future and their destiny, human beings knew themselves inadequate to become God’s person, and yet were reluctant to act as His service-doers. Torn between these contradictory mentalities, they unconsciously accepted an unprecedented judgment and chastisement that God had meted out to humanity. Naturally, this form of judgment and refinement was something that humanity was by no means willing to accept. Nonetheless, only God has the wisdom, and only He has the power, to exact meek submission from this corrupt race of human beings, so that, willingly or unwillingly, they all yielded in the end. Mankind had no alternatives to choose from. Only God has the final say, and only God is able to use a method like this to bestow the truth and life on man and show him direction. This method is the inevitability of God’s work upon man, and it is also, beyond doubt or dispute, man’s indispensable necessity. God uses a method like this for speaking and working to convey this fact to humanity: In saving mankind, God does so out of His love and mercy and for the sake of His management; in receiving God’s salvation, the human race does so because it has fallen to the point where God cannot but speak personally. When man receives God’s salvation, this is the greatest grace, and is also a special favor, that is to say, if not for God giving voice to His utterance in person, the fate of the human race would be extinction. At the same time that He abominates the human race, God is still ready and willing to pay any price for man’s salvation. Meanwhile, as man harps upon his love for God and how he consecrates all to God, he is rebelling against God and extorting every kind of grace from God, and even, at the same time, hurting God and inflicting unspeakable pain upon His heart. Such is the sharp contrast between the selfless and the selfish in the relationship between God and man!
In working and speaking, God is not constrained to follow any particular method, but makes achieving results into His end. For this reason, in “the words of the Holy Spirit to the churches,” He has made it a point not to lay bare His own identity clearly, but only to disclose a few terms such as “Christ of the last days,” “the Head of the universe,” and so forth. This by no means affects either Christ’s ministry or humanity’s knowledge of God, especially since mankind in those early days was completely ignorant of the concepts of “Christ” and “the incarnation,” so that God had to humble Himself to be a person with a “special function” to express His utterance. This is an instance of God’s painstaking intention, because people at that time could only accept this form of address. Whatever form of address God uses, the results of His work are not affected, because in all that He does God purposes to enable man to change, to enable man to attain God’s salvation. No matter what He does, God always has man’s needs in mind. This is the intention behind God’s working and speaking. Even though God is so thoroughly attentive in considering all aspects of humanity, and is so consummately wise in all that He does, I could say this: If God did not bear witness to Himself, there would not be one among the race of created human beings who is capable of recognizing God Himself or of standing up to bear witness to God Himself. If God had kept on using “a person with a special function” as the form of address in His work, there would not have been one single human being who could regard God as God—this is mankind’s sorrow. That is to say, among the race of created human beings there is no one able to know God, no one to love God, to care about God, and draw near to God. Man’s faith is solely for the sake of winning blessings. God’s identity as a person with a special function has given a hint to every single human: Mankind finds it easy to take God for one among the race of created human beings; the greatest pain and humiliation that mankind inflicts on God is precisely that, when He openly appears or works, God is still rejected by man and even forgotten by him. God endures the greatest humiliation in order to save the human race; in giving everything, His purpose is to save mankind, to obtain mankind’s recognition. The price God has paid for all of this is something that everyone with a conscience should be able to appreciate. The human race has gained God’s speaking and working, and gained God’s salvation. At the same time, it has not occurred to anyone to ask this: And what is it that God has gained from mankind? From God’s each and every utterance, humanity has gained the truth, has succeeded in changing, has found direction in life; but what God has gained is no more than the words that are owed to Him and a few faint whispers of praise. Surely this is not the recompense that God demands of man?
Although many of God’s utterances have now been expressed, the great majority of people are still paused at the stage represented by “the words of the Holy Spirit to the churches” in their knowledge and understanding of God, from which they have not gone forward—this is truly a painful subject. This part of “the words of the Holy Spirit to the churches” is merely a key for opening up the human heart; to pause here is to fall far short of fulfilling God’s intention. God’s aim in speaking this portion of His utterances is only to bring humanity from the Age of Grace into the Age of Kingdom; by no means does He wish for humanity to remain at a standstill at this portion of His utterances or even take this portion of His utterances as a guideline, otherwise God’s future utterances would be neither necessary nor meaningful. If there be any who is as yet unable to enter into what God demands that man attain in this portion of His utterances, then that person’s entry remains an unknown. This portion of God’s utterances constitutes the most basic requirement that God makes of man in the Age of Kingdom, and it is the only way by which mankind will enter on the right track. If you are a person who understands nothing, then you had best begin by reading the words in this part!
a. The original text omits “the different categories of.”