Chapter 17. Knowledge of the Incarnation
Knowing God must be done through reading God’s word and understanding God’s word. Some people say: “I haven’t seen God incarnate, so how can I know God?” God’s word is actually an expression of God’s disposition. From God’s word you can see God’s love for mankind, His salvation of mankind, and the way He saves them … because God’s word is expressed by God as opposed to God using man to write it out. It is personally expressed by God. It is God Himself expressing His own words and His inner voice. Why do we call them heartfelt words? Because they are issued from deep down, expressing His disposition, His will, His thoughts, His love for mankind, His salvation of mankind, and His expectations of mankind. Among God’s words are severe words, gentle and soft words, some considerate words, and there are some revelatory words that are inhumane. If you look only at the revelatory words, you feel that God is quite stern. If you look at only the gentle and soft side, God appears to not have much authority. You must therefore not understand out of context in this. You must look at it from every angle. Sometimes God speaks from a gentle and compassionate perspective, and people see God’s love for mankind; sometimes He speaks from a strict perspective, and people see God’s unoffendable disposition. Man is deplorably filthy and is not worthy of seeing God’s face, and is not worthy of coming before God. People’s coming before God now is purely out of God’s grace. God’s wisdom can be seen from the way God works and the meaning of His work. Even if people don’t come into contact with God, they will still be able to see these things in God’s word. When someone who has true understanding comes in contact with Christ, his understanding can match Him, but when someone who has only theoretical understanding comes in contact with God, it cannot match Him. This aspect of truth is the deepest profound mystery, difficult to fathom. Summarize the words that God says about the mystery of the incarnation, look at them from various angles, then discuss these things among yourselves. You may pray, and do a lot of pondering and discussion of these things. Perhaps the Holy Spirit enlightens you and lets you understand them. This is because you have no chance to come in contact with God, and you must rely on experience in this way to feel your way in a little bit at a time, to achieve true understanding of God.
The truths about knowing Christ and knowing God Himself are the deepest. If people lay stress on seeking this aspect of truth, however, inside they will become bright and steadfast, and they will have a path to walk. This aspect of truth is very similar to the heart of man. If a person has no truth in this aspect, he will lack strength. The more knowledge of this aspect of truth a person has, the more strength he has. Now there are some people who say: In the final analysis, what is the incarnation? Can these sayings prove that He is God incarnate? Can these words prove that He is God Himself? Had He not said these words would He still be God Himself? Or if He had said only some of the words, would He still be God? What determines that He is God? Is it determined simply by these words? These are key questions. Some people identify these words incorrectly as instruction of the Holy Spirit, that He finished giving instructions and left, that the Holy Spirit ceased working, that this flesh is no more than an ordinary and normal flesh, that this flesh cannot be called God, rather He can be called the Son of man, and can’t be called God. Some people misunderstand it in this way. Where, then, is the origin of this misunderstanding? It is that people have not understood thoroughly the incarnation, and have not unearthed it deeply. People understand the incarnation too superficially, and have only a smattering of knowledge. If saying so many words amounts to His being God, then does saying only a few words, rather than many, also mean that He is God? In fact His saying a few words is also an expression of the divinity. Is He God? The work that God does has great significance. It has conquered human hearts and gained a group of people. Had the work not been finished, would it have been possible to know Him as God Himself? Previously there were people who, when the work was half done, thought like this: As I see it, this work should change. Who can say what the incarnation really is! Is this having an attitude of distrust toward the incarnation of God? That you can be suspicious of God’s incarnate flesh shows that you don’t believe in the incarnation, don’t believe that He is God, don’t believe that He has the substance of God, and don’t believe that the words He said are issued from God. Even more do you not believe that the words He spoke are the revelation of His own disposition, and the expression of His substance. Some people spoke in this way: As I see it, God’s way of working should change. It is uncertain what the incarnation really is, and perhaps there should be another explanation of it. There are some people who wait and see, to see whether there is any tone to words spoken by God incarnate who is sitting there, whether He speaks truth, and if He has said anything new. If I had an X-ray machine I would look and see if there is any truth in His stomach. If there is no truth, and if He is a person, then I will hurriedly run away, and not believe. I would look and see if the Spirit of God is working in Him, whether the Spirit of God is helping Him, and instructing Him in His speech. Some people are suspicious in this way, and are always worrying about this problem in their hearts. For what reason does this situation exist? It is for no other reason than a superficial insight into the incarnation. They do not know it fully, and have not reached a high level in their understanding. For now, they only acknowledge that this person has the Spirit of God. To say, however, that within Him is the substance of God, the disposition of God, and to say that He has what God is and has, has all of God, and to say that He is none other than God, is difficult for some people to understand fully. The words do not appear to match up with the person in a number of things. What people see and what they believe is not the substance of God. In other words, what people see is only those words and actual work. People only think that God did part of the work, that God incarnate can only do this bit of work. Not a single person believes that though the incarnation now expresses this bit of work, He has all of the essence of the divinity. No one thinks this way. Now some people say: “Knowing God incarnate is too difficult. If it were the Spirit of God working directly we would understand easily. We would be able to directly see God’s power and God’s authority in the work of the Spirit. Then it would be easy to know God.” Is this saying tenable? Now I ask you a question like this: “Is it easier to know God incarnate or is it easier to know the Spirit? If God incarnate did as much work as Jehovah, which would be easier to understand?” You could say They are both hard to understand. If there were a path, They would both be easy to understand. If there were no spiritual understanding, both would be difficult to understand. Did people also not comprehend the work and words of the incarnation at the beginning? Did they all misunderstand it? People did not know what God was doing; none of it matched people’s conceptions! Did all people come up with conceptions? This illustrates that people do not know easily God incarnate. It is equally as difficult as knowing the Spirit, because the work of the incarnation is the expression of the Spirit, only that people are able to see and touch the incarnation. What is the inner meaning of the incarnation, however, and what is the purpose of His work, what it signifies, what aspects of His disposition it represents, and why He is revealed in this way, people probably do not understand, right? That you don’t understand proves that you do not know. The Spirit came to do work, say a set of words, and then left. All people do is to obey and carry them out, but do people know what it really is? Can people know the disposition of Jehovah from these words? Some people say that the Spirit is easy to know, that the Spirit came to do work carrying the true image of God. How is He difficult to know? Indeed you know His outer image, but can you know the essence of God? Now God incarnate is an ordinary and normal person whom you feel is easy to get in touch with. However, when His essence and His disposition are expressed, do people know those things easily? Do people easily accept those words He said that don’t conform to their conceptions? Now people all say that knowing God incarnate is difficult. If later God was transfigured, then it would be so easy to know God. The people who say this put all of the responsibility on God incarnate. Is that really the way it is? Even if the Spirit arrived you would similarly not understand Him. The Spirit left right after He finished speaking to people, and did not explain that much to them, and did not associate and live with them in a normal way. People did not have the opportunity to know God in a more practical way. The benefit of the work of God incarnate to people is immense. The truths that it brings people are more practical. It helps people see the practical God Himself. Knowing the essence of the incarnation and the essence of the Spirit is equally difficult, however. These are similarly hard to know.
What does it mean to know God? It means that man knows God’s gamut of emotions, this is what knowing God is. You say that you have seen God, yet you do not understand God’s gamut of emotions, do not understand His disposition, and do not know His righteousness either. You have no understanding of His mercifulness, and do not know what He loathes. This cannot be called knowledge of God. Therefore, some people are able to follow God, but they do not necessarily believe in God. This is the distinction. If you know Him, you understand Him, if you are able to comprehend and grasp some of what His will is, and you know His heart, then you can truly believe in Him, can truly submit to Him, truly love Him, and truly worship Him. If you do not understand these things, then you are only following along, a person who only runs along and follows the crowd. That cannot be called true submission, and cannot be called true worship. How can true worship be produced? There are none who see God and truly know God who do not worship Him, who do not revere Him. As soon as they see God they are afraid. At present people are in the time of the work of God incarnate. The more that people have understanding of the disposition of God incarnate and of what He has and is, the more people treasure them, and the more they revere God. Often, less understanding means more recklessness, such that God is treated as human. People will fear and tremble if they really know God and really see Him. Why did John say, “the One who is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry”? Though his understanding in his heart was not very deep, yet he knew that God is awesome. How many people are able to revere God now? Without knowing the disposition of God, how can one revere Him? If people do not know the essence of Christ, and do not understand the disposition of God, they are even less able to truly worship God. If people see only the ordinary and normal outward appearance of Christ and do not know His essence, it is easy for people to treat Christ as an ordinary man. They can adopt a disrespectful attitude toward Him, can cheat Him, resist Him, disobey Him, cast judgment on Him, and be opinionated. They can take His word as insignificant, can treat His flesh as they please, can harbor conceptions, and can blaspheme. To solve these issues one must know the essence of Christ, the divinity of Christ. This is the main aspect of knowing God; it is what all people who believe in the practical God must enter and achieve.