Chapter 19. The Meaning of God’s Experiencing the Pain of the World
God is incarnated to suffer on man’s behalf, and in so doing will bring about the wonderful destination that will follow for mankind. That stage of work completed by Jesus was only His becoming the likeness of sinful flesh and being crucified, His serving as a sin offering and redeeming all mankind, and this laid a foundation for mankind’s future entry into their wonderful destination. He took man’s sins upon Himself and became the likeness of sinful flesh and was crucified; He took man’s sins upon Himself and became the sin offering, after which mankind was redeemed. That is, it served as a testimony that man may be without sin and may finally come before God: It was a counter move in the war against Satan. During the last days, God is to complete His work and bring the old age to a close, and He will bring those of mankind who are left into their wonderful destination. So God has once again become flesh and, as well as conquering man, He has come to endure some suffering on man’s behalf. All of man’s suffering will be removed from them by means of this testimony, this deed, which is God bearing witness for Himself and using this testimony and this bearing witness to defeat Satan, humiliate the devil, and bring about mankind’s wonderful destination. Some people say: “The work of the incarnation is still done by God Himself. It isn’t this flesh that does it, it is done under the control of the Spirit within.” Is it correct to say this? It is not correct. It has been said before that God incarnate’s work of conquest is done in normal humanity, that what you can see is normal humanity, when actually it is God Himself that is doing the work, and that the work this flesh does is being done by God Himself. This is how it was explained and fellowshiped. People often think that this flesh is just a tool or a shell. If God within Him speaks or controls Him, then this flesh speaks or acts, and doesn’t do anything without God’s control. If He is controlled to say something then He says something, otherwise He remains silent. Is this the situation? No, it isn’t. The most powerful explanation now is this: One aspect of God becoming flesh in the last days is that He has come to do the work of conquest and to bring this age to its end; another aspect is that the flesh’s experiencing the pain of the world is God Himself coming to experience the pain of the world—God’s flesh and God Himself are as one. This flesh is not a tool as people think Him to be, nor is He just a shell; neither is He a physical thing that can be controlled, as people think. This flesh is the embodiment of God Himself. People actually understand it too simply. If it is just fellowshiped in that way, then people will easily separate the flesh from the Spirit. Now people should understand another aspect: God incarnate has come to experience the pain of the world; all the tribulations and illnesses the incarnation suffers are things that He shouldn’t suffer. Some people think that, since He is an ordinary and normal flesh, then this suffering is unavoidable. They think: “People will have a headache and slight fever, and He will also have this. This is something that cannot be avoided, as He is an ordinary and normal flesh. He is not transcendent. He is an ordinary person and He should suffer whatever people suffer. He must feel heat as people do and be bitten by the cold, as people are; He must catch colds as people do….” If you think this, then you are only seeing the ordinariness and normality of the flesh. This normal flesh is just like man with no difference at all. In actual fact, all that He suffers has meaning. People will normally become ill, or suffer something else, and this is that which people ought to suffer. Corrupted people should suffer this way, and this is a normal law. Why does God incarnate endure this suffering? Should Jesus have been crucified? Jesus was a righteous man. According to the laws of that time and all the things He did, He shouldn’t have been crucified. So why was He? He was crucified so that all mankind could be redeemed. Has all the pain and all the persecution that the current incarnation has gone through happened by chance? Or has God arranged it all on purpose? It is neither that God has arranged it on purpose, nor has it happened by chance. It is that it has developed in accordance with normal laws. Why do I say this? It is because God has placed Himself in amongst man so that He can do His work freely. In the doing of His work He is just like man and suffers the same as man. If He were to arrange some pain intentionally, then He would suffer for a few days, but ordinarily He would not be distressed. That is to say that God’s work of experiencing the pain of the world is not arranged on purpose, even less is it suffered unconsciously. It is that He has come to experience the pain of the world, to place Himself among man, to put Himself in the midst of man and endure the same pain as they do, to be treated equally, and not to be excepted from anything. Just as you have suffered persecution, does Christ not also suffer persecution? As you are hunted and pursued, is Christ not also hunted and pursued? People are afflicted by illnesses, so is His suffering then lessened? He is not excepted. Is this matter easy to understand? There are also some who think that God should endure this pain as He came to work in the nation of the great red dragon. Isn’t this also wrong? To God, there is no argument surrounding whether He should or shouldn’t suffer any pain; God said that He wished to experience the pain of the world and that, at the same time as suffering this pain, He would suffer it on man’s behalf. Then He would bring mankind into their wonderful destination, and Satan would be utterly convinced. To God, it is necessary for Him to endure this suffering. If He didn’t wish to suffer in this stage, if He just wanted to comprehend the pain of man and nothing more, then He could use a few apostles or the ones used by the Holy Spirit to take His place and report back to Him on their pain. Or He could use some special people to bear witness, cause them to endure the worst pain in the world and, if they could endure it, they could then bear this witness and Satan would be utterly convinced, and a future where mankind suffers no more would be brought about. Could God do this? Yes, He could do this. But the work of God Himself can only be done by Him. Though man could bear witness well, their witness would not resound with Satan, and it would say: “Now that You have become flesh, why do You not experience the pain of the world Yourself? …” That is to say, if God didn’t do this work Himself, then that kind of witness would not have sufficient power. The work of God must be done by He Himself; this is the only practical way. It can also be seen from this stage of God’s work that everything God does has meaning, that all the pain that is endured by the incarnation has meaning. You can see that nothing God does is done at random or at will, and that God doesn’t do anything that is of no use. The incarnation has come to do His work and to experience the pain of the world. It matters that God does this work, and it is very essential, both for mankind and for mankind’s future destination. It is all for the salvation of man, for the obtaining of man—these deeds are done and this effort is expended for man’s wonderful destination.
The aspect of truth which is the incarnation should be discussed from several perspectives:
1. The necessity of the ordinary and normal flesh.
2. The practical aspect of the work of the ordinary and normal flesh.
3. The meaning of God’s coming among man to experience the pain of the world, that is, its necessity.
Why does God want to experience the pain of the world? Would it be possible to not do things this way? There is another aspect of meaning here. The work of this ordinary and normal flesh can conquer man and can perfect man. In accordance with man’s essence and the laws that govern life, however, man continues to live in emptiness, pain, grief and sighs. The illnesses of man cannot yet be cast off. For example, you still live normally, you have already been perfected by God, your love for God has already reached a certain stage, you also have some experience of understanding God and your corrupt disposition has been resolved. I then say that you have now been perfected, that you are someone who loves God, and so you carry on living like this. You feel that your corrupt disposition has now been resolved, you think that to have experienced this love for God is very meaningful, you feel that living and loving God is great, and that you can be considered as having made some attainments. Suppose man had been saved to this extent, and then God left, and the work of the incarnation was finished. The illnesses of man, the emptiness of the world and the grief and troubles of man’s flesh would then still exist, so this would signify that the work of God’s salvation of man had not actually been completed. Someone has been perfected and they understand God, can love God and worship Him. Yet can they themselves resolve their own troubles and their own illnesses? Even with the truth, these problems cannot be resolved. No one would say: “I have the truth so, although my body is ill, still I am not distressed.” No one can resolve this pain. You can only say: “I feel now that there is much meaning to my life, but I am ill and still feel much pain.” Isn’t this right? Isn’t this feeling real? So if the incarnation only did the work of the conquering and perfecting of man, if the incarnation didn’t resolve all the pain of man’s flesh, instead only perfecting man, then all the pain and illnesses of man, all the sorrows and joys of the world and all the troubles that man faces while living on earth would be left unresolved. Even if you could live on earth for a thousand years, or ten thousand years, and never die, these troubles would still remain unresolved, and the matter of birth, death, illness and old age would still be left unresolved. Some people are absurd and ask, “God, can’t You resolve these problems?” What I am talking about now is this problem, that God has come to experience these things and, after He has experienced them, He will resolve them all utterly, from the roots up, so that mankind afterward will never again experience birth, death, illness and old age. Jesus tasted death; God’s current incarnation experiences the pain of birth and illness (He doesn’t need to experience old age, and man will afterward not grow old). He has experienced all this pain so that, in the end, it can all be removed from man. After He has suffered all on man’s behalf, He will then have a powerful testimony that will finally bring about the wonderful destination that will follow for mankind, which is the removal of birth, death, illness and old age. Isn’t this meaningful? So the incarnation experiences the suffering of the world, whether it be birth, illness, hardship or pain, and whichever of these aspects of suffering is endured, it is suffered on behalf of mankind. He serves as a symbol and an indication; He has suffered all and taken it all upon Himself so that mankind need not suffer ever again. The meaning is right here. After man has been perfected, they can worship God, love God, and do things in accordance with God’s will, in accordance with His word and in accordance with His requirements. He then resolves man’s troubles and pain. This is the meaning behind His suffering on behalf of man, which is that man on earth can not only worship God, but that they can also be without the affliction and enmeshment of illnesses, as well as without the birth, death, illness and old age of the world; they can be without the cycles of life and death. God’s current incarnation endures and experiences this pain and has already undertaken these things on behalf of man. Afterward, those who will be left will never again suffer these things—this is an indication. Some fallacious people ask, “Can You do all this on behalf of man on Your own?” It is sufficient for God incarnate to do this on behalf of man; are any more substitutes needed? God Himself can do anything and can take the place of anything, and He can represent all and can be a symbol for all, be a symbol for all things that are beautiful and good, and all things that are positive. Furthermore, He now experiences practically the pain of the world, so He is even more qualified to bear more powerful witness and to provide a more powerful testimony to remove from man all future suffering.
The incarnation doing the two stages of work in this way means that they have been done perfectly and they have formed a thread. Why do I say they have formed a thread? It is because the work that has been done in the two stages by the first incarnation and the current incarnation resolves all the suffering in the life of mankind and the pain of man’s own. Why is it necessary for the incarnation to do this Himself? Where did the pain of birth, death, illness and old age present throughout the life of man come from? Because of what did people first have these things? Man didn’t have these things when they were first created, did they? So where did these things come from? These things came after man was tempted by Satan and their flesh became degenerate, such as the pain of the flesh, the troubles and emptiness of the flesh and the extreme wretchedness of the world. Satan began to torment man after it had corrupted them. Man then became more and more degenerate, the illnesses of man were deepened, and their suffering became more and more severe. Man felt more and more the emptiness, the tragedy and the inability to go on living of the world, and they felt less and less hope for the world. So this suffering was brought on man by Satan, and it only came after man had been corrupted by Satan and became degenerate. So in order to bring mankind back from Satan’s hand and give them the wonderful destination, God must experience this suffering Himself. Even if man is now without sin, they still experience some painful things. Satan can still master and manipulate man and make them suffer torment and pain. So by the incarnation Himself coming to experience this pain, man is brought back from out of Satan’s grasp and they afterward needn’t suffer anything again. Isn’t this meaning profound? At the time, the incarnation that was Jesus abolished the law, fulfilled the law and brought about the Age of Grace. He brought mercy and love to mankind and was then crucified, thus forgiving all of man’s sins. He used His own precious blood to make man qualified to return before the throne of God. It could be said that the testimony and fact of the crucifixion was used to redeem man. Although man was forgiven of their sins, man has been deeply corrupted by Satan and they have sinful nature, they can still sin and resist God. This is a fact which no one can deny. Therefore, God has become flesh a second time to do the work of cleansing man from their sinful nature, which is to judge, chastise and cleanse man’s corrupt disposition. The first incarnation was to be crucified for man’s sin and redeem man. Man has already returned before God and the second incarnation of God has come to conquer man. Man has returned before God but they are still confused, they still don’t know what God is and ask where God is. God is standing right before them, yet they still don’t recognize Him. Man begins to become hostile to God, and God speaks and works; in the end, they prostrate themselves on the ground and see God. Man can see God but do they know Him? They still don’t know Him, so God still needs to speak some words, make man understand more of the truth and make them comprehend more of God’s disposition so that, in the end, man will know God. Man may have some understanding of God and be willing to live or die for God, yet Satan is still in control of and has mastery over the weaknesses in man, and it can still cause them to suffer. Evil spirits can still work to interfere with them, causing them to be in a confused state of mind, to take leave of their senses, to feel restless in their minds and suffer interference in all things. There are within man still some things of the mind or the soul that can be controlled by Satan and manipulated by it. So it is still possible for you to have illnesses, troubles and to feel suicidal, at times also feeling the desolation of the world, or that life has no meaning. That is to say, this suffering is still under Satan’s mastery—this is a fatal weakness of man. Satan is still able to use those things that it has corrupted and trampled on—they are things Satan can use against man. Following that, God incarnate began the second stage of work, suffering on man’s behalf whilst simultaneously doing the work of conquest. By the incarnation paying the price of suffering, the fatal weakness of man will be brought to an end and resolved. After the experiencing of pain in the world brings man back, Satan will no longer have anything it can use against man and man will completely turn to God. Only this can be called man wholly belonging to God. You can live for God and can truly worship Him, but you don’t necessarily wholly belong to God. Why is this? Evil spirits can still exploit opportunities to get to you, toy with you and they can still manipulate you. This is because man is so ignorant that, at times, they cannot understand the difference between the moving of the Holy Spirit and the interference of evil spirits. Isn’t this a fatal weakness? Evil spirits are opportunists. They can speak from within you or into your ear, or else they can throw your thoughts and mind into disarray, they push back the moving of the Holy Spirit so that you can’t feel it, after which they begin to interfere with you, making your thinking confused and your brain addled, and leaving you restless and unhinged. Such is the work of evil spirits. Now that God is doing His work, when mankind afterward has their wonderful destination they will not only be able to live for God, but they will no longer belong to Satan and there will no longer be anything that Satan can use against man. Man will belong to God, mind, spirit, flesh and soul. Your heart may now turn toward God, yet at times you can still be used by Satan against your will. So though man may have the truth and be able to completely obey and worship God, they cannot be completely free from the work of evil spirits, much less can they be without illness, because man’s flesh and soul have been trampled underfoot by Satan. Man’s soul is a sordid place and it has been lived in by Satan and been used by Satan. Satan can still take it from you and manipulate it so that your mind becomes muddled and you cannot clearly discern the truth. The incarnation’s experiencing of the world’s pain and His enduring this pain on man’s behalf is not a dispensable matter. It is absolutely essential. You understand this, don’t you?
You must understand that God’s two incarnations together have done the entire work to save man. With only the first incarnation, then mankind could not be wholly saved, because that incarnation only resolved the problem of absolving man’s sins, and could not resolve the problem of man’s corrupt disposition. If the second incarnation could only achieve the conquest of man and resolve man’s corrupt disposition, but could not resolve the problem of whether man belongs wholly to God, then only by the second incarnation also experiencing the pain of the world can those parts of man that have been corrupted by Satan be resolved. This resolves the problem of man’s suffering and torment from the root up—this incarnation resolves this problem utterly. These are the steps of the work of the two incarnations, and neither of them is dispensable. So you mustn’t belittle the suffering endured by the incarnation. At times He weeps, at times feels sad. At times, others see Him weak and extremely grieved. You mustn’t belittle this suffering, much less should you have any notions about it. If you do have any notions about it then you are being very ignorant and rebellious. You certainly mustn’t think that this pain is something that ought to be endured by God’s normal flesh, and that is even more wrong. If you say this then you are blaspheming against God. People must understand that the pain endured by the first or by the second incarnation is all necessary, which is not to say that it is essential for God Himself, but instead that it is essential for mankind. This must be done as man has been corrupted to such an extent; to not do it is not acceptable. Only by doing this can man be utterly saved by God. God does things in a way so that man can see with their very own eyes. All He does is made known and is not kept from anyone. He does not endure pain in secret, fearing that if people see then they will have notions about it. He doesn’t keep it from anyone, whether they are new to the church or a veteran of the church, whether they are old or young, or whether they can receive the truth or not. Because this is a testimony, and anyone can prove that the incarnation suffers so much pain during His time and has indeed undertaken the suffering of man. He doesn’t suffer secretly for a few days somewhere where no one can know, living in comfort and pleasure the majority of the time. It isn’t like this. The work and the suffering of Christ are not kept from anyone, fearing not that you may become weak, nor that you may have any notion, nor fearing that you may give up your faith. What does it show, that God doesn’t keep these things from anyone? He has no time to rest. The incarnation is incredibly busy. You may see Him now not saying anything or uttering His voice, but He is still working, not resting. Though He may not say anything, He can still feel distressed in His heart. Has man comprehended this? Even if man sees this, they won’t know what is going on. Some people know that Christ is an ordinary and normal flesh, but do you know what work this ordinary flesh is now doing? You don’t know. Your physical eyes can only see the surface and you cannot see any of the internal essence. So no matter how many years the incarnation works for, no matter how many years people think He has worked officially, in actual fact God hasn’t rested for a moment. Although He may not be speaking right now, He still suffers. Although He utters no word and may not be doing any work on a grand scale, yet His work hasn’t stopped. Some people judge whether or not He is God incarnate, whether or not He really is Christ by whether He will continue to say anything. They think that if He doesn’t say anything for two or three years then He is not God, and they will turn around and leave. The belief in God of this kind of person is like them sitting on the fence; this kind of person has no understanding of God whatsoever. There may still be some people who are now sitting on the fence and, seeing that God has not spoken for such a long time, they wonder whether the Spirit has left and whether the Spirit of God has risen up to heaven. Isn’t this a mistake? People shouldn’t pass judgment as they please, and shouldn’t think “Maybe this, maybe that, perhaps this, perhaps that.” This “perhaps” is a mistake, is an absurd word and is a conception of the devil Satan! God’s work hasn’t stopped for a second. He hasn’t rested but has worked all the way along, and it is all being done in the service of mankind.
The essence of Christ must be understood from all aspects. How can you know the essence of Christ? The key is to understand the work done by this flesh. If you only think that the Spirit does things in a certain way, but the flesh doesn’t, that the flesh is merely being controlled, then this is wrong. Why is it said that suffering pain, being crucified, conquering all mankind and experiencing the suffering of the world is all work done by Christ? It is because God became human and because these are things God does among man. The Spirit and the flesh work in tandem. It is not like what people imagine, that if the flesh will not speak then the Spirit must force Him to speak. This is not the case. Instead it is done very freely; the Spirit and the flesh do the same things. If the flesh sees something in a certain way, then the Spirit also sees it in that way. However it is said, it is all done in tandem. If you say that the flesh takes the lead, then this is also wrong. What does it mean, that the flesh takes the lead? There is a background to this, which is that God became human and all that man can see is what the flesh does, that the flesh has taken the lead during the time of the incarnation. But no matter how it is said, everything the flesh does is done in tandem with the Spirit. It is not possible that the Spirit sees something and causes the flesh to speak, but the flesh doesn’t speak and holds back. This is an impossibility. It is also impossible that the flesh wishes to speak but the Spirit doesn’t provide the words. If people think that, then they are wrong and they are being absurd. Can it be that the Spirit within prompts the flesh to speak, yet the flesh doesn’t speak? This just doesn’t happen. The Spirit and the flesh are as one. It is the Spirit materialized within the flesh. How could it be that the Spirit wished to speak but the flesh wouldn’t speak? Or if the flesh wished to speak but the Spirit didn’t provide the words? There can be no such argument. God incarnate is the materialization of the Spirit within the flesh. His flesh can speak at any time and in any place in the course of His work. As for the Holy Spirit working on man, the moment the Holy Spirit abandons someone, they can perceive it. God incarnate cannot have this kind of feeling. Man’s understanding is full of deviation and errors, thinking that God has worked up until this stage, and now has nothing to say, and that even if He wants to say something, He has nothing to say. Is this the situation? He can speak at any time. The Spirit and the flesh have never done anything that interrupts each other, whether in any work or in talking about any aspect of the truth. Whatever way you look at it, the Spirit is materialized within the flesh and God has become human; you absolutely cannot talk of something separating the flesh from the Spirit.
How can the work done by the incarnation be fellowshiped so that people understand? Firstly, don’t preach about how the ordinary and normal flesh suffers, but instead preach about the thread of the work of the two incarnations: The first time God was incarnated He was crucified to redeem all mankind and He took man’s sins upon Himself. The second incarnation has done two parts of work, the first being His resolving of man’s corrupt disposition, and the second being His settling of the destination that will follow for mankind. Once you preach about this, the thread will become clear. Then you can talk from different aspects. If people raise some questions, then fellowship with them. Through constant fellowship it will all become perfectly clear.