Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God (Part Two)
The work of God Himself is the vision that man must know, for the work of God cannot be achieved by man, and is not possessed by man. The three stages of work are the entirety of God’s management, and there is no greater vision that should be known by man. If man does not know this mighty vision, then it is not easy to know God, and not easy to understand God’s will, and, furthermore, the path that man walks upon becomes increasingly arduous. Without visions, man would not have been able to come this far. It is the visions that have safeguarded man until today, and which have provided the greatest protection to man. In the future, your knowledge must become deeper, and you must come to know the entirety of His will and the substance of His wise work in the three stages of work. Only this is your true stature. The final stage of work does not stand alone, but is part of the whole formed together with the two previous stages, which is to say that it is impossible to complete the entire work of salvation by only doing one of the three stages of work. Even though the final stage of work is able to fully save man, this does not mean that it is only necessary to carry out this single stage on its own, and that the two previous stages of work are not required to save man from the influence of Satan. No single stage of the three stages can be held up as the only vision that must be known by all mankind, for the entirety of the work of salvation is the three stages of work, not a single stage among them. As long as the work of salvation has not been accomplished, the management of God will be unable to come to a complete end. God’s being, disposition, and wisdom are expressed in the entirety of the work of salvation, not revealed to man at the very beginning, but has been gradually expressed in the work of salvation. Each stage of the work of salvation expresses part of the disposition of God, and part of His being; not every stage of work can directly and completely express the entirety of God’s being. As such, the work of salvation can only be fully concluded once the three stages of work have been completed, and so man’s knowledge of the entirety of God is inseparable from the three stages of God’s work. What man gains from one stage of work is merely the disposition of God that is expressed in a single part of His work. It cannot represent the disposition and being that is expressed in the stages before or after. That is because the work of saving mankind cannot be finished straight away during one period, or in one location, but gradually becomes deeper according to man’s level of development at different times and places. It is work that is carried out in stages, and is not completed in a single stage. And so, God’s entire wisdom is crystallized in the three stages, rather than in one individual stage. His entire being and entire wisdom are laid forth in these three stages, and each stage contains His being, and is a record of the wisdom of His work. Man should know the entire disposition of God expressed in these three stages. All this of God’s being is of the utmost importance to all mankind, and if people do not have this knowledge when they worship God, then they are no different from those who worship Buddha. God’s work among man is not hidden from man, and should be known by all of those who worship God. Since God has carried out the three stages of the work of salvation among man, man should know the expression of what He has and is during these three stages of work. This is what must be done by man. What God hides from man is that which man is incapable of achieving, and that which man should not know, whereas that which God shows to man is that which man should know, and that which man should possess. Each of the three stages of work is carried out upon the foundation of the previous stage; it is not carried out independently, separate from the work of salvation. Though there are great differences in the age and type of work that is carried out, at its core is still the salvation of mankind, and each stage of the work of salvation is deeper than the last. Each stage of work continues on from the foundation of the last, which is not abolished. In this way, in His work that is always new and never old, God is constantly expressing an aspect of His disposition that has never before been expressed to man, and is always revealing to man His new work, and His new being, and even though the religious old guard does its utmost to resist this, and openly opposes it, God always does the new work that He intends to do. His work is always changing, and because of this, it is always encountering the opposition of man. So, too, is His disposition always changing, as are the age and recipients of His work. Furthermore, He is always doing work that has never been done before, even carrying out work that appears to man to be in contradiction to the work done before, to run counter to it. Man is only able to accept one kind of work, or one way of practice. It is difficult for man to accept work, or ways of practice, that are at odds with them, or higher than them—but the Holy Spirit is always doing new work, and so there appear group after group of religious experts that oppose the new work of God. These people have become “experts” precisely because man has no knowledge of how God is always new and never old, and has no knowledge of the principles of God’s work, and, what’s more, has no knowledge of the many ways in which God saves man. As such, man is utterly unable to tell if it is work that comes from the Holy Spirit, and if it is the work of God Himself. Many people cling to an attitude in which, if it corresponds with the words that came before, then they accept it, and if there are differences with the work of before, then they oppose and reject it. Today, do you all not abide by such principles? The three stages of the work of salvation have not had any great effect on you, and there are those who believe that the two previous stages of work are a burden that is simply unnecessary to know. They think that these stages should not be declared to the masses and should be retracted as soon as possible, so that people do not feel overwhelmed by the previous two stages of the three stages of work. Most believe that making the two previous stages of work known is a step too far, and is of no help to knowing God—that is what you think. Today, you all believe that it is right to act in this way, but the day will come when you realize the importance of My work: Know that I do not do any work that is of no significance. Since I am declaring the three stages of work to you, so they must be of benefit to you; since these three stages of work are at the heart of God’s entire management, so they must become the focus of everyone throughout the universe. One day, you will all realize the importance of this work. Know that you oppose God’s work, or use your own conceptions to measure the work of today, because you do not know the principles of God’s work, and because you do not take the work of the Holy Spirit seriously enough. Your opposition to God and obstruction of the work of the Holy Spirit is caused by your conceptions and inherent arrogance. It is not because God’s work is wrong, but because you are naturally too disobedient. After finding their belief in God, some people can’t even say with certainty where man came from, yet they dare to make public speeches appraising the rights and wrongs of the Holy Spirit’s work. And they even lecture the apostles who have the Holy Spirit’s new work, passing comment and speaking out of turn; their humanity is too low, and there is not the slightest sense in them. Will the day not come when such people are rejected by the work of the Holy Spirit, and burned by the fires of hell? They do not know the work of God, but instead criticize His work, and also try to instruct God how to work. How can such unreasonable people know God? Man comes to know God during the process of seeking and experiencing Him; it is not through criticizing Him at whim that he comes to know God through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The more accurate people’s knowledge of God, the less they oppose Him. In contrast, the less people know of God, the more likely they are to oppose Him. Your conceptions, your old nature, and your humanity, character and moral outlook are the “capital” with which you resist God, and the more corrupt, degraded and low you are, the more you are the enemy of God. Those who are possessed of grievous conceptions and have a self-conceited disposition are even more in enmity of God incarnate, and such people are the antichrists. If your conceptions are not rectified, then they will always be against God; you will never be compatible with God, and will always be apart from Him.
Only by putting aside your old conceptions can you gain new knowledge, yet old knowledge is not necessarily old conceptions. “Conceptions” refers to the things imagined by man that are at odds with reality. If the old knowledge was already outdated in the old age, and it stopped man from entering into the new work, then such knowledge is also a conception. If man is able to take the correct approach to such knowledge, and can come to know God from several different aspects, combining the old and the new, then the old knowledge becomes an aid to man, and becomes the basis by which man enters the new age. The lesson of knowing God requires you to master many principles: how to enter onto the path to knowing God, which truths you must understand in order to know God, and how to make your conceptions and old nature submit to all of the arrangements of God’s new work. If you use these principles as the foundation for entering into the lesson of knowing God, then your knowledge will become deeper and deeper. If you have a clear knowledge of the three stages of work—which is to say, of God’s entire plan of management—and if you can fully correlate the previous two stages of God’s work with the present stage, and can see that it is work done by one God, then you will have no firmer foundation. The three stages of work were done by one God; this is the greatest vision, and is the only path to knowing God. The three stages of work could only have been done by God Himself, and no man could do such work on His behalf—which is to say that only God Himself could have done His own work from the beginning until today. Though the three stages of God’s work have been carried out in different ages and locations, and though the work of each is different, it is all work done by one God. Of all the visions, this is the greatest vision that man should know, and if it can be completely understood by man, then he will be able to stand fast. Today, the biggest problem facing all of the religious sects is that they do not know the work of the Holy Spirit, and are unable to differentiate between the work of the Holy Spirit and work that is not of the Holy Spirit—and so they cannot tell whether this stage of work is, like the last two stages of work, also done by Jehovah God. Though people follow God, most are still unable to tell whether it is the right way. Man worries whether this way is the way personally led by God Himself, and whether God’s incarnation is a fact, and most people still have no clue about how to discern when it comes to such things. Those who follow God are unable to determine the way, and so the messages which are spoken only have a partial effect among these people, and are incapable of being fully effective, and so this then affects the life of such people. If man can see in the three stages of work that they were carried out by God Himself at different times, in different places, and in different people, then man will see that,[a] although the work is different, it is all done by one God. Since it is work done by one God, then it must be right, and without error, and though it is at odds with the conceptions of man, there is no denying that it is the work of one God. If man can say for sure that it is the work of one God, then the conceptions of man will become mere trifles, unworthy of mention. Because the visions of man are unclear, and man only knows Jehovah as God, and Jesus as the Lord, and is in two minds about the God incarnate of today, and so many people remain devoted to the work of Jehovah and Jesus, and are beset by conceptions about the work of today, most people are always doubtful, and do not take the work of today seriously. Man has no conceptions toward the last two stages of work, which were invisible. That is because man does not understand the reality of the last two stages of work, and did not personally witness them. It is because they cannot be seen that man imagines as he likes; regardless of what he comes up with, there are no facts to prove it, and no one to correct it. Man gives free reign to his natural instinct, throwing caution to the wind and letting his imagination run free, for there are no facts to verify it, and so man’s imaginings become “fact,” regardless of whether there is any proof to them. Thus man believes in his own imagined God in his mind, and does not seek the God of reality. If one person has one kind of belief, then among a hundred people there are a hundred kinds of belief. Man is possessed of such beliefs because he has not seen the reality of God’s work, because he has only heard it with his ears and has not beheld it with his eyes. Man has heard legends and stories—but rarely has he heard the knowledge of the facts of God’s work. It is through their own conceptions that people who have only been believers for a year believe in God, and the same is true for those who have believed in God their entire lives. Those who cannot see the facts will never be able to escape from a faith in which they have conceptions of God. Man believes that he has freed himself from the bonds of his old conceptions, and has entered new territory. Does man not know that the knowledge of those who cannot see the true face of God is nothing but conceptions and hearsay? Man thinks that his conceptions are right, and without error, and thinks that these conceptions come from God. Today, when man witnesses the work of God, he lets loose conceptions that have built up over many years. The imaginings and ideas of the past became an obstruction to the work of this stage, and it becomes difficult for man to let go of such conceptions and refute such ideas. The conceptions toward this step-by-step work of many of those who have followed God until today have become ever more grievous and these people have gradually formed a stubborn enmity to the God incarnate, and the source of this hatred is the conceptions and imaginings of man. It is precisely because facts do not allow man to give free rein to his imagination, and, moreover, cannot be easily refuted by man, and the conceptions and imaginings of man do not brook the existence of facts, and, furthermore, because man does not give thought to the correctness and veracity of facts, and merely single-mindedly lets loose his conceptions, and employs his own imagination, that the conceptions and imaginings of man have become the enemy of the work of today, work which is at odds with the conceptions of man. This can only be said to be the fault of the conceptions of man, and cannot be said to be a fault of the work of God. Man may imagine whatever he wishes, but he may not freely dispute any stage of God’s work or any bit of it; the fact of God’s work is inviolable by man. You may give free rein to your imagination, and may even compile fine stories about the work of Jehovah and Jesus, but you may not refute the fact of each stage of the work of Jehovah and Jesus; this is a principle, and is also an administrative decree, and you should understand the importance of these issues. Man believes that this stage of work is incompatible with the conceptions of man, and that this is not the case for the two previous stages of work. In his imagination, man believes that the work of the two previous stages is surely not the same as the work of today—but have you ever considered that the principles of God’s work are all the same, that His work is always practical, and that, regardless of the age, there will always be a deluge of people who resist and oppose the fact of His work? All those who today resist and oppose this stage of work would also undoubtedly have opposed God in times past, for such people will always be the enemies of God. The people who know the fact of God’s work will see the three stages of work as the work of one God, and will let go of their conceptions. These are people who know God, and such people are those who truly follow God. When the entire management of God is nearing its end, God classes all things according to kind. Man was made by the hands of the Creator, a nd in the end He must completely return man under His dominion; this is the conclusion of the three stages of work. The stage of work of the last days, and the previous two stages in Israel and Judea, are God’s plan of management in the entire universe. No one can deny this, and it is the fact of God’s work. Although people have not experienced or witnessed much of this work, the facts are still the facts, and this is undeniable by any man. People who believe in God in every land of the universe will all accept the three stages of work. If you only know one particular stage of work, and do not understand the other two stages of work, do not understand the work of God in times past, then you are unable to speak the whole truth of God’s entire plan of management, and your knowledge of God is one-sided, for in your belief in God you do not know Him, or understand Him, and so you are not fit to bear testimony to God. Regardless of whether your current knowledge of these things is profound or superficial, in the end, you must have knowledge, and must be thoroughly convinced, and all people will see the entirety of God’s work and submit under the dominion of God. At the end of this work, all denominations will become one, all creatures will return under the dominion of the Creator, all creatures will worship the one true God, and all cults will come to nothing, never to appear again.
Why this continual reference to the three stages of work? The passing of the ages, social development, and the changing face of nature all follow alterations in the three stages of work. Mankind changes in time with the work of God, and does not develop by itself. Mention of the three stages of God’s work is in order to bring all creatures, and people throughout each religion, under the dominion of one God. Regardless of what religion you belong to, ultimately you will all submit under the dominion of God. Only God Himself can carry out this work; it cannot be done by any religious head. There are several major religions in the world, and each has its own head, or leader, and the followers are spread across different countries and regions all over the world; every country, be it large or small, has different religions within it, and almost every country is the same. However, regardless of how many religions there are across the world, all people within the universe ultimately exist under the guidance of one God, and their existence is not guided by religious heads or leaders. Which is to say that mankind is not guided by a particular religious head or leader; instead the whole of mankind is led by the Creator, who created the heavens and earth, and all things, and also created mankind—and this is a fact. Although the world has several major religions, regardless of how great they are, they all exist under the dominion of the Creator, and none of them can exceed the scope of this dominion. The development of mankind, social progress, the development of natural sciences—each is inseparable from the arrangements of the Creator, and this work is not something that can be done by a particular religious head. Religious heads are merely the leaders of a particular religion, and cannot represent God, or the One who created the heavens and earth and all things. Religious heads can lead all those within the entire religion, but cannot command all creatures beneath the heavens—this is a universally acknowledged fact. Religious heads are mere leaders, and cannot stand equal to God (the Creator). All things are in the hands of the Creator, and in the end they will all return to the hands of the Creator. Mankind was originally made by God, and regardless of the religion, every person will return under the dominion of God—this is inevitable. Only God is the Most High among all things, and the highest ruler among all creatures must also return under His dominion. No matter how high the status of man, he cannot take mankind to a suitable destination, and no one is able to class all things according to kind. Jehovah Himself created mankind and classed each according to kind, and when the end time arrives He will still do His own work Himself, classing all things according to kind—and this cannot be done by any apart from God. The three stages of work carried out from the beginning until today were all carried out by God Himself, and were carried out by the one God. The fact of the three stages of work is the fact of God’s leadership of all mankind, a fact that no one can deny. At the end of the three stages of work, all things will be classed according to kind and return under the dominion of God, for throughout the entire universe there only exists this one God, and there are no other religions. He who is incapable of creating the world will be incapable of bringing it to an end, whereas He who created the world will surely bring it to an end, and so if one is unable to bring the age to an end and is merely to help man cultivate his mind, then he will surely not be God, and will surely not be the Lord of mankind. He will be incapable of doing such great work; there is only One who can carry out such work, and all that are unable to do this work are surely the enemies other than God. They are cults, and thus incompatible with God, and if they are incompatible with God, then they are the enemies of God. All work is done by this one true God, and the entire universe is commanded by this one God. Regardless of whether He is working in Israel or China, regardless of whether the work is carried out by the Spirit or the flesh, all is done by God Himself, and can be done by no one else. It is precisely because He is the God of all mankind that He works freely, unconstrained by any conditions—and this is the greatest of all visions. As a creature of God, if you wish to perform the duty of a creature of God and understand the will of God, you must understand the work of God, must understand God’s will for creatures, must understand His plan of management, and must understand all the significance of the work He does. Those who do not understand this are not qualified to be creatures of God! As a creature of God, if you do not understand where you came from, do not understand the history of mankind and all the work done by God, and, furthermore, do not understand how mankind has developed up to today, and do not understand who commands the whole of mankind, then you are incapable of performing your duty. God has led mankind up until today, and ever since He created man upon the earth He has never left him. The Holy Spirit never stops working, has never stopped leading mankind, and has never left mankind. But mankind does not realize that there is a God, much less does he know God, and is there anything more humiliating than this for all creatures of God? God personally leads man, but man does not understand the work of God. You are a creature of God, yet you do not understand your own history, and are unaware of who has led you on your journey, you are oblivious of the work done by God, and so you cannot know God. If you do not know now, then you will never be qualified to bear testimony to God! Today, the Creator personally leads all people once again, and causes all people to behold His wisdom, almightiness, salvation, and wonderfulness. Yet you still do not realize or understand—and so are you not the one who will not receive salvation? Those who belong to Satan do not understand the words of God, and those who belong to God can hear the voice of God. All those who realize and understand the words I speak are the ones who will be saved, and bear testimony to God; all those who do not understand the words that I speak cannot bear testimony to God, and are the ones who will be eliminated. Those who do not understand God’s will and do not realize the work of God are incapable of achieving the knowledge of God, and such people will not bear testimony to God. If you wish to bear testimony to God, then you must know God, and the knowledge of God is accomplished through the work of God. All in all, if you wish to know God, then you must know God’s work: Knowing God’s work is of the utmost importance. When the three stages of work come to an end, there will be made a group of those who bear testimony to God, a group of those who know God. These people will all know God and will be able to put the truth into practice. They will possess humanity and sense, and will all know the three stages of God’s work of salvation. This is the work that will be accomplished at the end, and these people are the crystallization of the work of 6,000 years of management, and are the most powerful testimony to the ultimate defeat of Satan. Those who can bear testimony to God will be able to receive God’s promise and blessing, and will be the group that remains at the very end, which possesses the authority of God and bears testimony to God. Perhaps those among you can all become a member of this group, or perhaps only half, or only a few—it depends on your will and your pursuit.
a. The original text omits “then man will see that.”