Concerning Appellations and Identity (Part One)
If you wish to be fit for use by God, you must know the work of God; you must know the work that He did previously (in the New and Old Testaments), and, moreover, you must know His work of today. Which is to say, you must know the three stages of God’s work over the 6,000 years. If you are asked to spread the gospel, then you will not be able to do so without knowing the work of God. People will ask you all about the Bible, and the Old Testament, and what Jesus said and did at that time. They will say, Has your God not told you all of this? If He (God) can’t tell you what’s really going on in the Bible, then He is not God; if He can, then we’re convinced. In the beginning, Jesus talked much of the Old Testament with His disciples. Everything they read was from the Old Testament; the New Testament was only written several decades after Jesus was crucified. To spread the gospel, you should principally grasp the inner truth of the Bible, and God’s work in Israel, which is to say the work done by Jehovah. And you also have to understand the work done by Jesus. These are the issues that all people are most concerned about, and they do not possess an understanding of[a] these two stages of work. When spreading the gospel, first put aside talk of the Holy Spirit’s work today. This stage of work is beyond their reach, because what you pursue is that which is most lofty of all: a knowledge of God, and a knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit, and nothing is more exalted than these two. If you first talk about that which is lofty, it will be too much for them, for none of them have experienced such work by the Holy Spirit; it has no precedent, and is not easy for man to accept. Their experiences are old things from the past, with some occasional work by the Holy Spirit. What they experience is not the Holy Spirit’s work today, or God’s will today. They still act according to the old practices, with no new light, or new things. In the age of Jesus, the Holy Spirit mainly did His work in Jesus, whilst those who served Jehovah wearing priestly robes in the temple did so with unwavering loyalty. They also had the work of the Holy Spirit, but were unable to sense God’s present will, and merely remained faithful to Jehovah in accordance with the old practices, without new guidance. Jesus came and brought new work. Those people in the temple did not have new guidance, nor did they have new work. Serving in the temple they could merely uphold the old practices; without leaving the temple, they could have no new entry. The new work was brought by Jesus, and Jesus did not go into the temple to do His work. He only did His work outside the temple, for the scope of God’s work had changed long ago. He did not work within the temple, and when man served Him there it could only keep things as they were, and could not bring about any new work. Likewise, religious people today still worship the Bible. If you spread the gospel to them, then they will argue with you about the Bible; and if, when they talk about the Bible, you are at a loss for words, have nothing to say, then they will think that you are foolish in your faith, that you don’t even know the Bible, the “Word of God,” and how can you say that you believe in God? Then they will look down on you, and will say, Since the One you believe in is God, why doesn’t He tell you all about the Old and New Testament? Since He has brought His glory from Israel to the East, why does He not know the work done in Israel? Why does He not know the work of Jesus? If you do not know, then that proves that you have not been told; since He is the second incarnation of Jesus, how could He not know these things? Jesus knew the work done by Jehovah; how could He not? When the time comes, they will all ask you such questions. Their heads are full of such things; how could they not ask? Those who are within this stream do not focus on the Bible, for you have kept abreast of the step-by-step work done by God today, you have witnessed this step-by-step work with your own eyes, you have clearly beheld the three stages of work, and so you have had to put down the Bible and cease to study it. But they cannot not study it, for they have no knowledge of this step-by-step work. Some people will ask, What is the difference between the work done by God incarnate and that of the prophets and apostles of times past? David was also called the Lord, and so too was Jesus; although the work they did was different, they were called the same thing. Why, say you, were their identities not the same? What John witnessed was a vision, one that also came from the Holy Spirit, and he was able to say the words that the Holy Spirit intended to say; why is the identity of John different from that of Jesus? The words spoken by Jesus were able to fully represent God, and fully represented the work of God. What John saw was a vision, and he was incapable of completely representing the work of God. Why is it that John, Peter, and Paul spoke many words—as did Jesus—yet they did not have the same identity as Jesus? It is chiefly because the work that they did was different. Jesus represented the Spirit of God, and was the Spirit of God working directly. He did the work of the new age, the work that no one had done before. He opened up a new way, He represented Jehovah, and He represented God Himself. Whereas with Peter, Paul, and David, regardless of what they were called, they only represented the identity of a creature of God, or were sent by Jesus or Jehovah. So no matter how much work they did, no matter how great the miracles they performed, they were still just creatures of God, and incapable of representing the Spirit of God. They worked in the name of God or after being sent by God; furthermore, they worked in the ages begun by Jesus or Jehovah, and the work they did was not separate. They were, after all, merely creatures of God. In the Old Testament, many prophets spoke predictions, or wrote books of prophecy. No one said that they were God, but as soon as Jesus appeared, before He had uttered any words, the Spirit of God bore testimony to Him as God. Why is that? At this point you should already know! Before, the apostles and prophets wrote various epistles, and made many prophecies. Later on, people chose some of them to put in the Bible, and some were lost. Since there are people who say that everything spoken by them came from the Holy Spirit, why is some of it considered good, and some of it considered bad? And why were some chosen, and others not? If they were indeed the words spoken by the Holy Spirit, would it be necessary for people to select them? Why are the accounts of the words spoken by Jesus and the work He did different in each of the Four Gospels? Is this not the fault of those who recorded them? Some people will ask, Since the epistles written by Paul and the other authors of the New Testament and the work that they did partly came from the will of man, and were mixed with the conceptions of man, then is there no human impurity in the words that You (God) speak today? Do they really contain none of the conceptions of man? This stage of the work done by God is completely different from that done by Paul and the many apostles and prophets. Not only is there a difference in identity, but, principally, there is a difference in the work that is carried out. After Paul was struck down and fell before the Lord, he was led by the Holy Spirit to work, and he became a sent one. And so he wrote epistles to the churches, and these epistles all followed the teachings of Jesus. Paul was sent by the Lord to work in the name of the Lord Jesus, but when God Himself came, He did not work in any name, and represented none but the Spirit of God in His work. God came to do His work directly: He was not perfected by man, and His work was not carried out upon the teachings of any man. In this stage of work God does not lead by talking of His personal experiences, but instead carries out His work directly, according to what He has. For example, He does the work of the service-doers, of the times of chastisement, the work of death, of loving God…. This is all work that has never been done before, and is work that is of the present age, rather than the experiences of man. In the words I have spoken, which are the experiences of man? Do they not all come directly from the Spirit, and are they not issued forth by the Spirit? It is just that your caliber is so poor that you are unable to see through to the truth! The practical way of life that I speak of is to guide the path, and has never been spoken by anyone before, nor has anyone ever experienced this path, or known of this reality. Before I uttered these words, no one had ever spoken them. No one had ever talked of such experiences, nor had they ever spoken of such details, and, furthermore, no one had ever pointed out such states to reveal these things. No one had ever led the path that I lead today, and if it were led by man, then it would not be a new way. Take Paul and Peter, for example, they did not have their own personal experiences prior to walking upon[b] the path led by Jesus. It was only after Jesus led the path that they experienced the words spoken by Jesus, and the path led by Him; from this they gained many experiences, and wrote the epistles. And so, the experiences of man are not the same as the work of God, and the work of God is not the same as the knowledge described by the conceptions and experiences of man. I have said, time and again, that today I am leading a new path, and doing new work, and My work and utterances are different from those of John and all the other prophets. Never do I first gain experiences and then speak them to you—that is not the case at all. If it was, would that not have delayed you long ago? In the past, the knowledge that many spoke of was also exalted, but all of their words were only spoken based upon those of the so-called spiritual figures. They did not guide the way, but came from their experiences, came from what they had seen, and from their knowledge. Some were their conceptions, and some were experience that they had summarized. Today, the nature of My work is totally different from theirs. I have not experienced being led by others, nor have I accepted being perfected by others. Furthermore, all that I have spoken and fellowshiped is unlike that of anyone else, and has never been spoken by anyone else. Today, regardless of who you are, your work is carried out upon the basis of the words I speak. Without these utterances and work, who would be capable of experiencing these things (the trial of service-doers, the times of chastisement…), and who would be able to speak of such knowledge? Are you really incapable of seeing this? No matter which step of work, as soon as My words are spoken, you begin to fellowship in accordance with My words, and work according to them, and it is not a way that any one of you has thought of. Having come this far, are you incapable of seeing such a clear and simple question? It is not a way that someone has thought up, nor is it based on that of any spiritual figure. It is a new path, and even many of the words once spoken by Jesus no longer apply. What I speak is the work of opening a new epoch, and it is work that stands alone; the work that I do, and the words that I speak, are all new. Is this not the new work of today? The work of Jesus was also like this. His work was also different from that of the people in the temple, and so too did it differ from the work of the Pharisees, and neither did it bear any resemblance to that done by all the people of Israel. After witnessing it, people couldn’t make up their minds: Was it really done by God? Jesus did not hold to the law of Jehovah; when He came to teach man, all that He spoke was new and different to that said by the ancient saints and prophets of the Old Testament, and because of this, people remained uncertain. This is what makes man so hard to deal with. Prior to accepting this new stage of work, the path that the majority of you walked was to practice and enter upon the foundation of that of those spiritual figures. But today, the work that I do is greatly different, and so you are unable to decide whether it is right or not. I care not what path you walked before, nor am I interested in whose food you ate, or whom you took as your “father.” Since I have come and brought new work to guide man, all who follow Me must act in accordance with what I say. No matter how powerful the “family” you hail from, you must follow Me, you must not act according to your former practices, your “foster father” should step down, and you should come before your God to seek your rightful share! The entirety of you is in My hands, and you should not devote too much blind belief to your foster father; he cannot completely control you. The work of today stands alone. All that I say today is obviously not based upon a foundation from the past; it is a new beginning, and if you say that it is created by the hand of man, then you are one for whom there is nothing that can cure your blindness! Isaiah, Ezekiel, Moses, David, Abraham, and Daniel were leaders or prophets among the chosen people of Israel. Why were they not called God? Why did the Holy Spirit not bear testimony to them? Why did the Holy Spirit bear testimony to Jesus as soon as He began His work and started to speak His words? And why did the Holy Spirit not bear testimony to others? They, men who were of flesh, were all called “Lord.” Regardless of what they were called, their work represents their being and substance, and their being and substance represent their identity. Their substance is not related to their appellations; it is represented by what they expressed, and what they lived out. In the Old Testament, there was nothing out of the ordinary in being called Lord, and a person might be called in any which way, but his substance and inherent identity were immutable. Among those false Christs, false prophets, and deceivers, are there not also those who are called God? And why are they not God? Because they are incapable of doing the work of God. At root they are men, deceivers of people, not God, and so they do not have the identity of God. Was David not also called Lord among the twelve tribes? Jesus was also called Lord; why was Jesus alone called God incarnate? Was Jeremiah not also known as the Son of man? And was Jesus not known as the Son of man? Why was Jesus crucified on behalf of God? Is it not because His substance was different? Is it not because the work that He did was different? Does a title matter? Although Jesus was also called the Son of man, He was the first incarnation of God, He had come to assume power, and accomplish the work of redemption. This proves that the identity and substance of Jesus were different from others who were also called the Son of man. Today, who of you dare to say that all the words spoken by those who were used by the Holy Spirit came from the Holy Spirit? Does anyone dare to say such things? If you do say such things, then why was Ezra’s book of prophecy discarded, and why was the same thing done to the books of those ancient saints and prophets? If they all came from the Holy Spirit, then why do you dare to make such capricious choices? Are you qualified to choose the work of the Holy Spirit? Many stories from Israel were also discarded. And if you believe that these writings of the past all came from the Holy Spirit, then why were some of the books discarded? If they all came from the Holy Spirit, they should all be kept, and sent to the brothers and sisters of the churches to read. They should not be chosen or discarded by human will; it is wrong to do that. Saying that the experiences of Paul and John were mixed with their personal seeings does not mean that their experiences and knowledge came from Satan, but only that they had things that came from their personal experiences and seeings. Their knowledge was according to the background of the actual experiences at the time, and who could confidently say that all of it came from the Holy Spirit? If the Four Gospels all came from the Holy Spirit, then why was it that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each said something different about the work of Jesus? If you don’t believe this, then look at the accounts in the Bible of how Peter denied Jesus three times: They are all different, and they each have their own characteristics. Many who are ignorant say, God incarnate was also a man, so could the words He spoke have completely come from the Holy Spirit? If the words of Paul and John were mixed with human will, then were the words that He spoke really not mixed with human will? People who say such things are blind, and ignorant! Carefully read the Four Gospels; read what they recorded about the things that Jesus did, and the words He spoke. Each account was, quite simply, different, and each had its own perspective. If what was written by the authors of these books all came from the Holy Spirit, then it should all be the same and consistent. Why then are there discrepancies? Is man not extremely foolish, to be unable to see this? If you are asked to bear testimony to God, what kind of testimony can you provide? Can such a way of knowing God bear testimony to Him? If others ask you, “If the records of John and Luke were mixed with human will, then are the words spoken by your God not mixed with human will?” would you be able to give a clear answer? After Luke and Matthew had heard the words of Jesus, and seen the work of Jesus, they spoke of their own knowledge, in the manner of reminiscences detailing some of the facts done by Jesus. Can you say that their knowledge was completely revealed by the Holy Spirit? Outside of the Bible, there were many spiritual figures with a higher knowledge than them; why have their words not been taken up by later generations? Were they not also used by the Holy Spirit? Know that in the work of today, I am not speaking of My own seeing based upon the foundation of Jesus’ work, nor am I speaking of My own knowledge against the background of Jesus’ work. What work did Jesus do at that time? And what work am I doing today? What I do and say have no precedent. The path that I walk today has never been trodden before, it was never walked by the people of ages and generations past. Today, it has been opened, and is this not the work of the Spirit? Even though it was the work of the Holy Spirit, the leaders of the past all carried out their work upon the foundation of others. But the work of God Himself is different, as was Jesus’ stage of work: He opened a new way. When He came He preached the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, and said that man should repent, and confess. After Jesus completed His work, Peter and Paul and others began to carry on the work of Jesus. After Jesus was nailed to the cross and ascended to heaven, they were sent by the Spirit to spread the way of the cross. Even though the words of Paul were exalted, they were also based upon the foundation laid by Jesus, such as patience, love, suffering, head-covering, baptism, or other doctrines to be followed. All this was upon the foundation of the words of Jesus. They were incapable of opening a new way, for they were all men used by God. Jesus’ utterances and work at the time did not hold to doctrine, and He did not carry out His work according to the work of the law of the Old Testament. It was according to the work that should be done in the Age of Grace. He labored according to the work that He had brought forth, according to His own plan, and according to His ministry; He did not work according to the law of the Old Testament. Nothing that He did was according to the law of the Old Testament, and He did not come to work to fulfill the words of the prophets. Each stage of God’s work was not expressly in order to fulfill the predictions of the ancient prophets, and He did not come to abide by doctrine or deliberately realize the predictions of the ancient prophets. Yet His actions did not disrupt the predictions of the ancient prophets, nor did they disturb the work that He had previously done. The salient point of His work was not abiding by any doctrine, and doing the work that He Himself should do. He was not a prophet or a seer, but a doer, who actually came to do the work He was supposed to do, and came to open His new era and carry out His new work. Of course, when Jesus came to do His work, He also fulfilled many of the words spoken by the ancient prophets in the Old Testament. So too has the work of today fulfilled the predictions of the ancient prophets of the Old Testament. It’s just that I don’t hold up that “yellowed old almanac,” that’s all. For there is more work that I must do, there are more words that I must speak to you, and this work and words are of far greater importance than explaining passages from the Bible, because work such as that has no great significance or value for you, and cannot help you, or change you. I intend to do new work not for the sake of fulfilling any passage from the Bible. If God only came to earth to fulfill the words of the ancient prophets of the Bible, then who is greater, God incarnate or those ancient prophets? After all, are the prophets in charge of God, or is God in charge of the prophets? How do you explain these words?
a. The original text omits “an understanding of.”
b. The original text omits “walking upon.”