God’s Work in the Age of Grace
My entire management plan, a plan that spans six thousand years, consists of three stages, or three ages: the Age of Law in the beginning; the Age of Grace (which is also the Age of Redemption); and the Age of Kingdom in the last days. My work in these three ages differs in content according to the nature of each age, but at each stage it accords with man’s needs—or, to be more precise, it is done according to the tricks that Satan employs in the war that I wage against it. The purpose of My work is to defeat Satan, to make manifest My wisdom and omnipotence, to expose all of Satan’s tricks, and thereby to save the entire human race, which lives under its domain. It is to show My wisdom and omnipotence while at the same time revealing the unbearable hideousness of Satan. Even more, it is to teach My creations to discriminate between good and evil, to know that I am the Ruler of all things, to see clearly that Satan is humanity’s foe, the lowest of the low, the evil one, and to tell, with absolute certainty, the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood, holiness and filth, and what is great and what is ignoble. This way, ignorant humanity will become able to bear witness to Me that it is not I who corrupt humanity, and only I—the Lord of creation—can save humanity, can bestow upon man things for their enjoyment; and they will come to know that I am the Ruler of all things and Satan is merely one of the beings that I created and that later turned against Me. My six-thousand-year management plan is divided into three stages so as to achieve the following effect: to enable My creations to become My witnesses, to comprehend My will, and to know that I am the truth. Thus, during the initial phase of work in My six-thousand-year management plan, I did the work of the law, which was the work in which Jehovah led His people. The second stage initiated the work of the Age of Grace in the villages of Judea. Jesus represents all the work of the Age of Grace; He was incarnated in the flesh and crucified on the cross, and He also inaugurated the Age of Grace. He was crucified in order to complete the work of redemption, to end the Age of Law and begin the Age of Grace, and so He was called the “Supreme Commander,” the “Sin Offering,” the “Redeemer.” Thus the work of Jesus differed in content from the work of Jehovah, although they were the same in principle. Jehovah began the Age of Law, established the home base, that is, the point of origin, of His work on earth, and issued the commandments; these were two of His accomplishments, which represent the Age of Law. The work Jesus did in the Age of Grace was not to issue commandments but to fulfill the Commandments, thereby ushering in the Age of Grace and concluding the Age of Law that had lasted two thousand years. He was the trailblazer, who came in order to begin the Age of Grace, yet the main part of His work lay in redemption. And so His accomplishments were also twofold: opening up a new age, and completing the work of redemption through His crucifixion. Then He departed. At this point, the Age of Law came to an end and mankind entered into the Age of Grace.
The work Jesus did was in accordance with the needs of man in that age. His task was to redeem humanity, to forgive them their sins, and so His disposition was wholly one of humility, patience, love, piety, forbearance, mercy, and lovingkindness. He blessed humanity richly and brought them grace in abundance, and all the things that they could possibly enjoy, He gave them for their enjoyment: peace and happiness, His tolerance and love, His mercy and lovingkindness. In those days, all that man encountered was an abundance of things to enjoy: Their hearts were at peace and reassured, their spirits were consoled, and they were sustained by the Savior Jesus. That they could obtain these things was a consequence of the age in which they lived. In the Age of Grace, man had already undergone Satan’s corruption, and so the work of redeeming all humanity required an abundance of grace, infinite forbearance and patience, and even more, an offering sufficient to atone for humanity’s sins, in order to arrive at its effect. What humanity saw in the Age of Grace was merely My offering of atonement for the sins of humanity, that is, Jesus. All they knew was that God could be merciful and forbearing, and all they saw was Jesus’ mercy and lovingkindness. This was entirely because they lived in the Age of Grace. And so, before they could be redeemed, they had to enjoy the many kinds of grace that Jesus bestowed on them; only this was beneficial to them. This way, they could be forgiven of their sins through their enjoyment of grace, and could also have the chance to be redeemed through enjoying Jesus’ forbearance and patience. Only through Jesus’ forbearance and patience did they win the right to receive forgiveness and enjoy the abundance of grace bestowed by Jesus—just as Jesus said, “I have come to redeem not the righteous but sinners, to allow sinners to be forgiven of their sins.” If Jesus had been incarnated with the disposition of judgment, curse, and intolerance of man’s offenses, then man would never have had the chance to be redeemed, and would then have remained forever sinful. Had this been so, the six-thousand-year management plan would have come to a stop in the Age of Law, and the Age of Law would have been prolonged for six thousand years. Man’s sins would only have grown more numerous and more grievous, and the creation of humanity would have been for naught. Men would only have been able to serve Jehovah under the law, but their sins would have exceeded those of the first created humans. The more Jesus loved mankind, forgiving them their sins and bringing unto them enough mercy and lovingkindness, the more mankind gained the capacity to be saved, to be called the lost lambs that Jesus bought back at a great price. Satan could not meddle in this work, because Jesus treated His followers as a loving mother treats the infant in her bosom. He did not grow angry at them or despise them, but was full of consolation; He never flew into a rage in their midst, but forbore with their sins and turned a blind eye to their foolishness and ignorance, to the point of saying, “Forgive others seventy times seven times.” So His heart transformed the hearts of others. It was in this way that the people received forgiveness of sins through His forbearance.
Though Jesus in His incarnation was utterly without emotion, He always comforted His disciples, provided for them, helped them, and sustained them. However much work He did or however much suffering He endured, He never made excessive demands of the people, but was always patient and forbearing of their sins, such that people in the Age of Grace affectionately called Him “the lovable Savior Jesus.” To the people of that time—to all people—what Jesus had and was, was mercy and lovingkindness. He never remembered people’s transgressions, and His treatment of them was not based on their transgressions. Because that was a different age, He often bestowed plentiful food and drink upon the people so that they could eat their fill. He treated all His followers with grace, healing the sick, driving out demons, raising the dead. In order that the people might believe in Him and see that all that He did was done earnestly and sincerely, He went so far as to resurrect a rotting corpse, showing them that in His hands even the dead could come back to life. In this way He endured silently and did His work of redemption in their midst. Even before He was nailed to the cross, Jesus had already taken upon Himself the sins of humanity and become a sin offering for mankind. Even before being crucified, He had already opened the way to the cross in order to redeem mankind. At last He was nailed to the cross, sacrificing Himself for the sake of the cross, and He bestowed all of His mercy, lovingkindness, and holiness upon mankind. To humanity He was always tolerant, never vengeful, but forgave them their sins, exhorted them to repent, and taught them to have patience, forbearance, and love, to follow in His footsteps and sacrifice themselves for the sake of the cross. His love for the brothers and sisters exceeded His love for Mary. The work that He did took as its principle healing the people and driving out demons, all for the sake of His redemption. No matter where He went, He treated all who followed Him with grace. He made the poor rich, the lame walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear; He even invited the lowliest, destitute ones, the sinners, to sit at the same table with Him, never shunning them but always being patient, even saying, “When a shepherd loses one sheep out of a hundred, he will leave behind the ninety-nine to seek the one lost sheep, and when he finds it he will rejoice greatly.” He loved His followers as a ewe loves her lambs. Though they were foolish and ignorant, and were sinners in His eyes, and furthermore were the humblest members of society, He considered these sinners—men whom others despised—as the apple of His eye. Since He favored them, He gave up His life for them, as a lamb was offered up on the altar. He went about in their midst as if He were their servant, letting them use Him and slaughter Him, submitting to them unconditionally. To His followers He was the lovable Savior Jesus, but to the Pharisees, who lectured the people from a high pedestal, He showed not mercy and lovingkindness, but loathing and resentment. He did not do much work among the Pharisees, only occasionally lecturing and rebuking them; He did not go about in their midst doing the work of redemption, nor performing signs and wonders. He bestowed all His mercy and lovingkindness upon His followers, enduring for the sake of these sinners till the very end, when He was nailed to the cross, and suffering every humiliation until He had fully redeemed all humanity. This was the sum total of His work.
Without Jesus’ redemption, mankind would forever have lived in sin, and become the children of sin, the descendants of demons. Going on in this way, the entire earth would have become a lodging place for Satan, a place for its habitation. But the work of redemption required showing mercy and lovingkindness toward mankind; only by this means could mankind receive forgiveness and at last win the right to be made complete and fully gained. Without this stage of work, the six-thousand-year management plan would not have been able to go forward. If Jesus had not been crucified, if He had only healed the people and exorcised their demons, then the people could not have been completely forgiven of their sins. In the three and a half years that Jesus spent doing His work on earth, He completed only half of His work of redemption; then, by being nailed to the cross and becoming the likeness of sinful flesh, by being handed over to the evil one, He completed the work of crucifixion and mastered mankind’s destiny. Only after He was delivered into Satan’s hands did He redeem mankind. For thirty-three and a half years He suffered on earth, being ridiculed, slandered, and forsaken, even to the point where He had no place to lay His head, no place of rest; then He was crucified, with His whole being—an immaculate and innocent body—nailed to the cross, and underwent all manner of suffering. Those in power mocked and scourged Him, and the soldiers even spat in His face; yet He remained silent and endured until the end, submitting unconditionally to the point of death, whereupon He redeemed all of humanity. Only then was He permitted to rest. The work that Jesus did represents only the Age of Grace; it does not represent the Age of Law, nor is it a substitute for the work of the last days. This is the essence of Jesus’ work in the Age of Grace, the second age that mankind has passed through—the Age of Redemption.
from “The Truth Concerning the Work in the Age of Redemption” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
When Jesus came, He also did part of God’s work, and spoke some words—but what was the main work He accomplished? What He mainly accomplished was the work of crucifixion. He became the likeness of sinful flesh to complete the work of crucifixion and redeem all mankind, and it was for the sake of all mankind’s sin that He served as a sin offering. This is the main work He accomplished. Ultimately, He provided the path of the cross to guide those who came later. When Jesus came, it was primarily to complete the work of redemption. He redeemed all mankind, and brought the gospel of the kingdom of heaven to man, and, furthermore, He brought the kingdom of heaven. As a result, those who came after all said, “We should walk the path of the cross, and sacrifice ourselves for the cross.” Of course, in the beginning Jesus also did some other work and spoke some words to make man repent and confess his sins. But His ministry was still the crucifixion, and the three and a half years He spent preaching the way were in preparation for the crucifixion that came after. The several times that Jesus prayed were also for the sake of the crucifixion. The life of a normal man that He led and the thirty-three and a half years that He lived on earth were primarily for the sake of completing the work of crucifixion, they were to give Him strength, and make Him able to undertake this work, as a result of which God entrusted the work of crucifixion to Him.
from “All Is Achieved by the Word of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins: Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin. At the time, Jesus did much work that was incomprehensible to His disciples, and said much that people did not understand. This is because, at the time, He did not give explanation. Thus, several years after He departed, Matthew created His genealogy, and others also did much work that was of the will of man. Jesus did not come to perfect and gain man, but to do one stage of work: bringing forth the gospel of the kingdom of heaven and completing the work of the crucifixion—and so once Jesus was crucified, His work came to a complete end.
from “The Vision of God’s Work (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The work that Jesus did was not supernatural; there was a process to it, and it all progressed according to the normal laws of things. By the last six months of His life, Jesus knew with certainty that He had come to do this work, and knew that He had come to be nailed to the cross. Before He was crucified, Jesus continually prayed to God the Father, just as He prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane. After He was baptized, Jesus performed His ministry for three and a half years, and His official work lasted two and a half years. During the first year, He was accused by Satan, and disturbed by man, and subjected to the temptation of man. He overcame many temptations at the same time as carrying out His work. In the last six months, when Jesus was soon to be crucified, from the mouth of Peter came the words that He was the Son of the living God, that He was Christ. Only then did His identity and work become known to all, only then were they revealed to the public. After that, Jesus told His disciples that He was to be crucified for the sake of man, and that three days later He would rise again; that He had come to carry out the work of redemption, and He was the Savior. Only in the last six months did He reveal His identity and the work that He intended to do. This was also the time of God, and the work should be carried out thus.
from “The Vision of God’s Work (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
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.
from “Concerning Appellations and Identity” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
During the time of Jesus, Jesus led the Jews and all those who followed Him according to the Holy Spirit’s work in Him at the time. He didn’t take the Bible as the basis of what He did, but spoke according to His work; He paid no heed to what the Bible said, nor did He search in the Bible for a path to lead His followers. Right from when He began to work, He spread the way of repentance—a word of which there was absolutely no mention in the prophecies of the Old Testament. Not only did He not act according to the Bible, but He also led a new path, and did new work. Never did He refer to the Bible when He preached. During the Age of Law, no one had ever been able to perform His miracles of healing the sick and casting out demons. His work, His teachings, His authority—no one had done this during the Age of Law. Jesus simply did His newer work, and even though many people condemned Him using the Bible—and even used the Old Testament to crucify Him—His work surpassed the Old Testament; if this were not so, why did people nail Him to the cross? Was it not because it said nothing in the Old Testament of His teaching, and His ability to heal the sick and cast out demons? His work was in order to lead a new path, it was not to deliberately pick a fight against the Bible, or to deliberately dispense with the Old Testament. He simply came to perform His ministry, to bring the new work to those who yearned for and sought Him. He didn’t come to explain the Old Testament or uphold its work. His work was not in order to allow the Age of Law to continue developing, for His work gave no consideration to whether it had the Bible as its base; Jesus simply came to do the work that He ought to do. Thus, He did not explain the prophecies of the Old Testament, nor did He work according to the words of the Old Testament Age of Law. …
The work done by Jesus during the time of the New Testament opened up new work: He did not work according to the work of the Old Testament, nor did He apply the words spoken by Jehovah of the Old Testament. He did His own work, and He did newer work, and work that was higher than the law. Thus, He said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Thus, in accordance with what He accomplished, much doctrine was broken with. He took the disciples to the grain fields to pick and eat the heads of grain, He did not keep the Sabbath, and said “the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” At the time, according to the rules of the Israelites, whosoever didn’t keep the Sabbath would be stoned to death. Jesus, however, neither entered the temple nor kept the Sabbath, and His work had not been done by Jehovah during the time of the Old Testament. Thus, the work done by Jesus exceeded the law of the Old Testament, it was higher than it, and was not in accordance with it.
from “Concerning the Bible (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
When Jesus came to do His work, it was under the direction of the Holy Spirit; He did what the Holy Spirit wanted, and it was not according to the Old Testament Age of Law or according to the work of Jehovah. Although the work that Jesus came to do was not to abide by the laws of Jehovah or the commandments of Jehovah, Their source was the one and the same. The work that Jesus did represented the name of Jesus, and it represented the Age of Grace; as for the work done by Jehovah, it represented Jehovah, and it represented the Age of Law. Their work was the work of one Spirit in two different ages. The work that Jesus did could only represent the Age of Grace, and the work that Jehovah did could only represent the Old Testament Age of Law. Jehovah only guided the people of Israel and of Egypt, and of all the nations beyond Israel. The work of Jesus in the New Testament Age of Grace was the work of God under the name of Jesus as He guided the age. … There could only be a new age when Jesus came to do new work, to launch a new age, to break through the work previously done in Israel, and to conduct His work not in accordance with the work done by Jehovah in Israel, or with His old rules, or in conformity to any regulations, but rather to do the new work that He should do. God Himself comes to open up an age, and God Himself comes to bring the age to an end. Man is incapable of doing the work of beginning an age and concluding the age. If Jesus did not bring the work of Jehovah to an end, then that would be proof that He was merely a man and incapable of representing God. Precisely because Jesus came and concluded the work of Jehovah, followed on from the work of Jehovah by beginning His own work, new work, it proves that this was a new age, and that Jesus was God Himself. They did two distinctly different stages of work. One stage was carried out in the temple, and the other was conducted outside of the temple. One stage was to lead the life of man according to the law, and the other was to offer up a sin offering. These two stages of work were markedly different; this divides the new age from the old, and it is absolutely correct to say that they are two different ages. The location of Their work was different, and the content of Their work was different, and the objective of Their work was different. As such, they can be divided into two ages: the New and the Old Testaments, which is to say, the new and the old ages. When Jesus came He did not go into the temple, which proves that the age of Jehovah had ended. He did not enter the temple because the work of Jehovah in the temple had finished, and did not need to be done again, and to do it again would be to repeat it. Only by leaving the temple, beginning a new work and opening up a new path outside of the temple, was He able to bring God’s work to its zenith. If He had not gone out of the temple to do His work, the work of God would have stagnated upon the foundations of the temple, and there would never have been any new changes. And so, when Jesus came He did not enter the temple, and did not do His work in the temple. He did His work outside of the temple, and, leading the disciples, went about His work freely. God’s departure from the temple to do His work meant that God had a new plan. His work was to be conducted outside of the temple, and it was to be new work that was unconstrained in the manner of its implementation. As soon as Jesus arrived, He brought the work of Jehovah during the age of the Old Testament to an end.
from “The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh