The 6,000 years of work of God’s management are divided into three stages: the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom. These three stages of work are all for the sake of mankind’s salvation, which is to say, they are for the salvation of mankind that has been severely corrupted by Satan. At the same time, however, they are also so that God may do battle with Satan. Thus, just as the work of salvation is divided into three stages, so the battle with Satan is also divided into three stages, and these two aspects of God’s work are conducted simultaneously. The battle with Satan is actually for the sake of mankind’s salvation, and because the work of mankind’s salvation is not something that can be successfully completed in a single stage, the battle with Satan is also divided into phases and periods, and war is waged upon Satan in accordance with the needs of man and the extent of Satan’s corruption of him. Perhaps, in man’s imagination, he believes that in this battle God will take up arms against Satan, in the same way that two armies would fight each other. This is just what man’s intellect is capable of imagining; it is a supremely vague and unrealistic idea, yet it is what man believes. And because I say here that the means of man’s salvation is through battle with Satan, man imagines that this is how the battle is conducted. There are three stages to the work of man’s salvation, which is to say that the battle with Satan has been split into three stages in order to defeat Satan once and for all. Yet the inner truth of the entire work of the battle with Satan is that its effects are achieved through several steps of work: bestowing grace upon man, becoming man’s sin offering, forgiving the sins of man, conquering man, and making man perfect. As a matter of fact, the battle with Satan is not the taking up of arms against Satan, but the salvation of man, the working of the life of man, and the changing of man’s disposition so that he may bear testimony to God. This is how Satan is defeated. Satan is defeated through changing the corrupt disposition of man. When Satan has been defeated, that is, when man has been completely saved, then the humiliated Satan will be completely bound, and in this way, man will have been completely saved. Thus, the essence of man’s salvation is the war against Satan, and this war is primarily reflected in the salvation of man. The stage of the last days, in which man is to be conquered, is the last stage in the battle with Satan, and it is also the work of man’s complete salvation from the domain of Satan. The inner meaning of man’s conquest is the return of the embodiment of Satan—man who has been corrupted by Satan—to the Creator following his conquest, through which he will forsake Satan and completely return to God. In this way, man will have been completely saved. And so, the work of conquest is the last work in the battle against Satan and the final stage in God’s management for the sake of Satan’s defeat. Without this work, the full salvation of man would ultimately be impossible, the utter defeat of Satan would also be impossible, and mankind would never be able to enter the wonderful destination, or get free from Satan’s influence. Consequently, the work of salvation of man cannot be concluded before the battle with Satan is concluded, for the core of the work of God’s management is for the sake of mankind’s salvation. Earliest mankind was in the hands of God, but because of Satan’s temptation and corruption, man was bound up by Satan and fell into the hands of the evil one. Thus, Satan became the object to be defeated in the work of God’s management. Because Satan took possession of man, and because man is the capital which God uses to carry out all management, if man is to be saved, then he must be snatched back from the hands of Satan, which is to say that man must be taken back after having been held captive by Satan. Thus, Satan must be defeated through changes in man’s old disposition, changes which restore man’s original sense of reason. In this way, man, who has been taken captive, can be snatched back from the hands of Satan. If man is freed from the influence and bondage of Satan, then Satan will be shamed, man will ultimately be taken back, and Satan will be defeated. And because man has been freed from the dark influence of Satan, man will become the spoils of this entire battle, and Satan will become the object to be punished once the battle has finished, after which the entire work of mankind’s salvation will have been completed.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination
The work done by Jesus was merely a stage higher than the Old Testament; it was used to begin an age, and to lead that age. Why did He say, “I have not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill the law”? Yet in His work there was much that differed from the laws practiced and the commandments followed by the Israelites of the Old Testament, for He did not come to obey the law, but to fulfill it. The process of fulfilling it included many practical things: His work was more practical and real, and, furthermore, it was more alive, and was not blind adherence to rules. Did the Israelites not keep the Sabbath? When Jesus came, He did not observe the Sabbath, for He said that the Son of man was the Lord of the Sabbath, and when the Lord of the Sabbath arrived, He would do as He wished. He had come to fulfill the laws of the Old Testament and to change the laws. All that is done today is based upon the present, yet it still rests upon the foundation of the work of Jehovah in the Age of Law, and it does not transgress this scope. To watch your tongue, and not commit adultery, for example—are these not the laws of the Old Testament? Today, what is required of you is not only limited to the Ten Commandments, but consists of commandments and laws of a higher order than those that came before. Yet this does not mean that what came before has been abolished, for each stage of God’s work is carried out upon the foundation of the stage that came before. As for that which Jehovah introduced to Israel, such as requiring people to offer up sacrifices, honor their parents, not to worship idols, not to assault or curse others, not to commit adultery, not to smoke or drink, and not to eat dead things or drink blood—does this not form the foundation for your practice even today? It is upon the foundation of the past that the work has been carried out up until today. Though the laws of the past are no longer mentioned and new demands have been made of you, these laws, far from being abolished, have instead been elevated to higher status. To say that they have been abolished means that the previous age is outdated, whereas there are some commandments that you must honor for all eternity. The commandments of the past have already been put into practice, have already become the being of man, and there is no need to place special emphasis on such commandments as “Do not smoke,” and “Do not drink,” and so on. Upon this foundation, new commandments are laid down according to your needs today, according to your stature, and according to the work of today. Decreeing commandments for the new age does not mean abolishing the commandments of the old age, but lifting them higher upon this foundation, to make the actions of man more complete, and more in line with reality. If, today, you were only required to follow the commandments and abide by the laws of the Old Testament in the same way as the Israelites, and if you were even required to memorize the laws laid down by Jehovah, there would be no possibility that you could change. If you were only to abide by those few limited commandments or memorize innumerable laws, your old nature would remain deeply embedded, and there would be no way to uproot it. Thus you would become increasingly depraved, and not one of you would become obedient. This is to say that a few simple commandments or countless laws are incapable of helping you know the deeds of Jehovah. You are not the same as the Israelites: By following the laws and memorizing the commandments, they were able to witness the deeds of Jehovah and give their devotion to Him alone. But you are unable to achieve this, and a few commandments of the Old Testament age are not only incapable of making you give over your heart, or of protecting you, but will instead make you lax, and will make you fall down into Hades. For My work is the work of conquest, and it is aimed at your disobedience and your old nature. The kind words of Jehovah and Jesus fall far short of the severe words of judgment today. Without such severe words, it would be impossible to conquer you “experts,” who have been disobedient for thousands of years. The laws of the Old Testament lost their power on you long ago, and the judgment of today is far more formidable than the old laws. What is most suitable for you is judgment, and not the trifling restrictions of laws, for you are not the mankind of the very beginning, but a mankind that has been corrupt for thousands of years. What man must achieve now is in line with the real state of man today, according to the caliber and actual stature of present-day man, and it does not require that you follow rules. This is so that changes may be achieved in your old nature, and in order that you may cast aside your notions.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Vision of God's Work (1)
Even though the path that man walks today is also the path of the cross and the path of suffering, what man practices, and what he eats, drinks and enjoys today are greatly different from that which fell to man under the law and in the Age of Grace. What is asked of man this day is unlike that in the past and even more unlike that asked of man in the Age of Law. Now, what was asked of man under the law when God was doing His work in Israel? It was no more than that man should keep the Sabbath and the laws of Jehovah. No one was to labor on the Sabbath or transgress the laws of Jehovah. But it is not so now. On the Sabbath, man works, gathers, and prays as usual, and no restrictions are imposed on him. Those in the Age of Grace had to be baptized, and they were further asked to fast, break bread, drink wine, cover their heads and wash the feet of others for them. Now, these rules have been abolished, but greater demands are made of man, for the work of God grows ever deeper and the entry of man reaches ever higher. In the past, Jesus laid His hands upon man and prayed, but now that everything has been said, what is the use of the laying on of hands? Words alone can achieve results. When He laid His hands upon man in the past, it was to bless man and also to heal him of his diseases. This was how the Holy Spirit worked at that time, but it is not so now. Now the Holy Spirit uses words in order to work and achieve results. His words have been made clear to you, and you should put them into practice just as you have been told. His words are His will; they are the work He wishes to do. Through His words, you will understand His will and that which He asks you to attain, and you may just put His words into practice directly without any need for the laying on of hands. Some may say, “Lay Your hands upon me! Lay Your hands upon me that I may receive Your blessing and that I may partake of You.” All these are outdated practices from the past, now obsolete, for the age has changed. The Holy Spirit works in accordance with the age, neither at random nor in conformity to set rules. The age has changed, and a new age necessarily brings with it new work. This is true of every stage of work, and so His work is never repeated. In the Age of Grace, Jesus did a fair amount of that kind of work, such as healing sickness, casting out demons, laying His hands upon man to pray for him, and blessing man. However, to do so again would be meaningless in the present day. The Holy Spirit worked in that way at the time, for it was the Age of Grace, and there was sufficient grace for man to enjoy. No payment of any kind was asked of him, and so long as he had faith, he would receive grace. All were treated very graciously. Now the age has changed, and the work of God has progressed further; it is through chastisement and judgment that the rebelliousness of man and the unclean things within man will be purged away. That stage being the stage of redemption, it behooved God to work in that way, showing enough grace for man to enjoy, so that man might be redeemed from sin and, by means of grace, be forgiven his sins. This present stage is to expose the unrighteousness within man by means of chastisement, judgment, the smiting of words, as well as the discipline and revelation of words, so that humanity may afterward be saved. This is work more in-depth than redemption. The grace in the Age of Grace was sufficient for man’s enjoyment; now that man has already experienced this grace, he is no longer to enjoy it. This work is now past its time and is no longer to be done. Now man is to be saved through the judgment of the word. After man is judged, chastised, and refined, his disposition is thereby changed. Is this not all because of the words I have spoken? Each stage of work is done in line with the progress of the whole human race and with the age. The work is all significant, and it is all done for the sake of the final salvation, that mankind may have a good destination in the future, and that humanity may be classed according to kind in the end.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)
The work of today has pushed forward the work of the Age of Grace; that is, the work under the entire six-thousand-year management plan has moved forward. Though the Age of Grace has ended, there has been progress in God’s work. Why do I say time and again that this stage of work builds upon the Age of Grace and the Age of Law? Because the work of this day is a continuation of the work done in the Age of Grace, and an advance over that done in the Age of Law. The three stages are tightly interconnected, with each link in the chain closely tied to the next. Why do I also say that this stage of work builds on that done by Jesus? Supposing that this stage did not build on the work done by Jesus, another crucifixion would have to take place in this stage, and the redemptive work of the previous stage would have to be done all over again. This would be meaningless. And so it is not that the work is completely finished, but that the age has moved forward and the level of the work has been raised higher than before. It can be said that this stage of work is built on the foundation of the Age of Law and upon the rock of Jesus’ work. God’s work is built stage by stage, and this stage is not a new beginning. Only the combination of the three stages of work may be deemed the six-thousand-year management plan.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Two Incarnations Complete the Significance of the Incarnation
The entire management of God is divided into three stages, and in each stage, fitting requirements are made of man. Furthermore, as the ages pass and progress, God’s requirements of all mankind become ever higher. Thus, step-by-step, this work of God’s management reaches its climax, until man beholds the fact of the “appearance of the Word in the flesh,” and in this way the requirements of man become even higher, as do the requirements of man to bear testimony. The more man is capable of truly cooperating with God, the more he glorifies God. Man’s cooperation is the testimony that he is required to bear, and the testimony that he bears is the practice of man. Therefore, whether or not God’s work can have the due effect, and whether or not there can be true testimony, are inextricably linked to the cooperation and testimony of man. When the work is finished, which is to say, when all of God’s management has reached its end, man will be required to bear higher testimony, and when the work of God reaches its end, the practice and entry of man will reach their zenith. In the past, man was required to comply with the law and the commandments, and he was required to be patient and humble. Today, man is required to obey all of God’s arrangements and possess a supreme love of God, and he is ultimately required to still love God amid tribulation. These three stages are requirements that God makes of man, step-by-step, throughout His entire management. Each stage of God’s work goes deeper than the last, and in each stage the requirements of man are more profound than the last, and in this way, God’s entire management gradually takes shape. It is precisely because the requirements of man are ever higher that man’s disposition comes ever closer to the standards required by God, and only then does the whole of mankind begin to gradually depart from the influence of Satan until, when God’s work comes to a complete end, the whole of mankind will have been saved from the influence of Satan. When that time comes, the work of God will have reached its end, and man’s cooperation with God in order to achieve changes in his disposition will be no more, and the whole of mankind will live in the light of God, and from then on, there will be no rebelliousness or opposition to God. God will also make no demands of man, and there will be a more harmonious cooperation between man and God, one which will be the life of man and God together, the life that comes after the management of God has been completely concluded, and after man has been fully saved by God from the clutches of Satan.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Practice