What Attitude Do You Hold Toward the Thirteen Epistles?
The New Testament of the Bible contains the thirteen epistles of Paul. These thirteen letters were all written by Paul to the churches that believed in Jesus Christ during the period of his work. That is, he was raised up to write these letters after Jesus ascended to heaven. His letters are testimonies of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven after His death, and are preaching the way for people to repent and bear the cross. Of course, these ways and testimonies were all for teaching the brothers and sisters in various places of Judea at that time, because at the time Paul was the Lord Jesus’ servant, and he had been raised up to bear witness to the Lord Jesus. Different people are raised up to perform His different work during each period of the Holy Spirit’s work, that is, to do the work of the apostles in order to continue the work God completes Himself. If the Holy Spirit did it directly and no people were raised up, then it would be difficult for the work to be carried out. As such, Paul became one who was struck down on the road to Damascus and then was raised up to be a witness of the Lord Jesus. He was the apostle outside of the twelve disciples of Jesus. Apart from spreading the gospel, he also undertook the work of shepherding the churches in various places, which is looking after the brothers and sisters of the churches, that is, leading the brothers and sisters in the Lord. His testimony is to make known the fact of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven, and to teach people to repent and confess and walk the way of the cross. He was one of the witnesses of Jesus Christ at the time.
Paul’s thirteen epistles were selected for use in the Bible. These thirteen letters were all written by Paul targeting the different situations of people in various places. He was moved by the Holy Spirit to write them and taught brothers and sisters in all places from the position of an apostle (standing from the perspective of the Lord Jesus’ servant). Therefore, Paul’s letters did not originate from prophecies or directly from visions, but came from the work he undertook. These letters are not strange, nor are they difficult to understand like prophecies. These words are just letters and are not prophecies or mysteries. They are merely ordinary instructional words. Even though many words are difficult to comprehend or are not easily understood by people, they are nothing more than Paul’s own understanding as well as the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Paul is just an apostle, a servant used by the Lord Jesus, not a prophet. He took the opportunity while walking to all sorts of places to write letters to the brothers and sisters of churches, or during the period he was ill, he wrote to churches that were particularly on his mind but he could not go to. Accordingly, his letters were kept by people at the time, and later, people collected, sorted, then placed them after the Four Gospels of the Bible. Of course, they selected and put all of the best letters he had written together. These letters are beneficial to the lives of the churches’ brothers and sisters and were particularly famous letters of the time. When Paul wrote these letters at the time, his purpose was not to write a spiritual work to allow brothers and sisters to find a path of practice within it, or a spiritual biography to express his own experiences. He did not intend to write a book to become an author; he was simply writing letters to brothers and sisters of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. He taught brothers and sisters in his position as a servant, to tell them of his burden, the will of the Lord Jesus, and what He has entrusted to people for the future. That was the work he performed. His words were quite edifying for the experience of future brothers and sisters. The truths he fellowshiped in these many letters were what people from the Age of Grace ought to practice, which is why later people arranged these letters into the New Testament. No matter what Paul’s outcome was later, he was someone who was used at the time, who supported brothers and sisters in the churches. His outcome was determined by his essence and his being struck down initially. He was able to speak those words at the time because he had the work of the Holy Spirit. It was because of the work of the Holy Spirit that he bore a burden toward the churches. That way, he was able to supply brothers and sisters. However, due to some special circumstances, he could not personally go to the churches to work, so he wrote letters to them to admonish brothers and sisters in the Lord. He initially persecuted the disciples of the Lord Jesus, but after Jesus ascended to heaven, that is, after he “received the light,” he stopped persecuting the Lord Jesus’ disciples and no longer persecuted those saints who preached the gospel for the sake of the Lord’s way. After he saw Jesus appear to him as a bright light he then accepted the Lord’s commission and became one who was used by the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel.
Paul’s work at the time was simply to support and supply brothers and sisters. He was not like some people who wanted to carve out a career or write some literary works, to open up some other paths, or to find some other paths outside of the Bible to lead people in the churches so they can attain new entry. He was someone who was used; he did this just to fulfill his duty. If he did not bear a burden toward the churches, then it would be considered a dereliction of duty. If something disruptive happened or there was an incident of betrayal in the church leading to an abnormal state of the people there, then that would have been regarded as him not performing his work properly. If a worker bears a burden toward the church and also works to the best of his abilities, then this proves that he is a worker who is qualified, a person qualified to be used. If he doesn’t feel a burden toward the church, his work also achieves no results, and most of the people he leads are weak or even fall, then such a worker has not fulfilled his duty. Likewise, Paul was no exception. That is why he had to look after the churches or frequently write letters to brothers and sisters. It was through this method that he achieved supplying the churches and looking over brothers and sisters—it was only this way that the churches could receive supply and shepherding from him. The words of the letters he wrote were very deep, but his letters were written to brothers and sisters under the premise of having the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, combined with his personal experiences and burden. He was merely a person used by the Holy Spirit. His personal experiences were mixed into the contents of all of his letters. The work he performed simply represents the work of an apostle, not the work directly performed by the Holy Spirit, and it is also different from the work of Christ. He was only fulfilling his duty, which is why he provided his burden as well as his personal experiences and insights to brothers and sisters in the Lord. He was merely carrying out the work of God’s commission by providing personal insight and understanding—it certainly was not God Himself working directly. As such, his work was mixed with human experience and the way man views and understands the church’s work. However, these views and knowledge of man cannot be said to be the work of evil spirits or work of flesh and blood. It can only be said to be the knowledge and experiences of a person enlightened by the Holy Spirit. What I mean by this is that Paul’s letters are not books from heaven. They are not holy and not uttered or expressed by the Holy Spirit—they are merely an expression of Paul’s burden toward the church. The purpose of My saying all this is to have you understand the difference between the work of God and man. God’s work represents God Himself, while man’s work represents man’s duty and experiences. One shouldn’t look upon God’s normal work as intended by man and His supernatural work as intended by God. Moreover, one shouldn’t regard man’s lofty preaching as utterances of God or as books of heaven. All of this is against ethics. When many people hear Me dissect Paul’s thirteen epistles, they think Paul’s letters cannot be read and that Paul is a hugely sinful man. There are even a lot of people who think My words are unfeeling, that My assessment of Paul’s letters is inaccurate, and that his letters cannot be regarded as expressions of man’s experiences and burden. They think they should be regarded as God’s words, they are as important as John’s Book of Revelation, they cannot be cut down or added to, and moreover cannot be casually explained. Aren’t these all people’s incorrect statements? Isn’t it all because people have no sense? Paul’s letters do benefit people a lot, and they already have a history of more than 2,000 years. But up till now, there are still a lot of people who cannot figure out what he wrote at the time. In man’s feelings, Paul’s letters are the greatest masterpieces throughout all of Christianity. No one can unravel them and no one can fully understand them. In fact, these letters are just like the biography of a spiritual person and cannot be compared to the words of Jesus or the great visions seen by John. By contrast, the visions seen by John were great visions from heaven, prophecies of God’s own work, which were unachievable by man, while Paul’s letters are merely descriptions of what a man saw and experienced. They are what man is capable of and are neither prophecies nor visions—just letters mailed to various places. But for the people at the time, Paul was a worker and thus his words had value, because he was someone who accepted what was entrusted to him. Hence, his letters were beneficial to those who sought Christ. Even though the words were not personally spoken by Jesus, they were, after all, essential for their time. Therefore, those who came after Paul placed these letters in the Bible, enabling them to be passed down until now. Do you understand what I mean? I am simply accurately explaining these letters, dissecting them, not denying their benefit and value as a reference to people. If after reading My words you not only deny Paul’s letters but determine that they are heresy or don’t have any value, then it can only be said that your receptive abilities are too poor and your knowledge and ability to see things are too poor—it certainly cannot be said that My words are too one-sided. Do you understand now? The important thing for you to understand is the actual situation of Paul’s work at the time and the background to his letters. If you have a correct view of these things, likewise, you will also have a correct view of Paul’s letters. At the same time, after you understand the essence of Paul’s letters, your assessment of the Bible will be correct, and you will understand why Paul’s letters have been so worshiped by later people for so many years, and why there are even many who treat him as God. Wouldn’t that be what you thought too if you didn’t understand?
One who is not God Himself cannot represent God Himself. Paul’s work can only be said to be partly what man saw and partly enlightened by the Holy Spirit. He wrote these words through what he saw as well as the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. This is not surprising. It is therefore unavoidable that his words are mixed with some human experiences, and later he used his personal experiences to provide for and support brothers and sisters at the time. The letters he wrote cannot be categorized as life study, and they don’t belong to the category of a biography or message, and moreover it is not truth practiced by the church or church administrative decrees. As someone with a burden, a person assigned to work by the Holy Spirit, this was something he had to do. If the Holy Spirit raises a person up and gives a burden to them but they do not take up the work of the church, manage the affairs of the church well, and resolve all of the church’s problems, then this proves they did not fulfill their duty properly. It is therefore not a very mysterious thing for an apostle to be able to write letters during the period of their work. This was part of his job, and he was obligated to do it. His purpose of writing these letters was not to write a life study or a spiritual biography, and moreover it was not to open up another way out for saints. It was for the sake of fulfilling his own function and being a loyal servant to God, so that he could give an account to God by completing what God had entrusted to him. He was responsible to himself and his brothers and sisters in his work, which is why he had to do his job well and take the affairs of the church to heart. This was part of his job.
If you have an understanding of Paul’s letters, you will also have a correct understanding and assessment of Peter’s and John’s letters. You will never again look upon these letters as books from heaven and holy and inviolable, much less will you regard Paul as God. After all, God’s work is different from man’s work, so how could God’s expressions and man’s expressions be the same? God has God’s particular disposition, while man has duties man ought to fulfill. God’s disposition is expressed in His work, while man’s duty is embodied in man’s experiences and expressed in man’s pursuits. Therefore, it is possible to know whether it is God’s or man’s expression through their work. It does not need to be explained by God Himself or need man to strive to bear witness, and moreover does not need God Himself to suppress any person. All of this is a natural revelation; it is not forced or something that man can interfere with. Man’s duty can be known through his experience and does not require him to do any extra experiential work. All of man’s essence can be revealed as he performs his duty, while God can express His inherent disposition as He performs His work. If it is man’s work then it cannot be covered up. If it is God’s work then God’s disposition is even more impossible to be covered up by anyone, and moreover cannot be controlled by man. A man cannot be said to be God, and moreover his work and words cannot be looked upon as holy or regarded as unchangeable. God can be said to be man because He clothed Himself in flesh, but His work cannot be considered to be man’s work or man’s duty. Moreover, God’s utterances and Paul’s letters cannot be equated, nor can God’s judgment and chastisement and man’s instructive words be spoken of as equals. There are, therefore, principles distinguishing God’s work from man’s work. They are differentiated according to their essence, not the scope of the work or the temporary efficiency of the work. Most people make mistakes of principle on this topic. This is because man looks at the exterior, which can be achieved by man, whereas God looks at the substance, which cannot be observed by mankind’s fleshly eyes. If you regard God’s words and work as the duty of an average man, and view man’s large-scale work as the work of God clothed in the flesh, as opposed to man fulfilling his duty, then aren’t you mistaken in principle? Man’s letters and biographies can be made easily, but it is on the foundation of the work of the Holy Spirit. However, God’s utterances and work cannot be easily accomplished by man or achieved by human wisdom and thinking. Moreover, it cannot be explained thoroughly from man’s exploration. If you don’t have any reaction to these matters of principle, then that proves your belief is not very true and refined. It can only be said that your belief is full of vagueness and it is also confused and unprincipled. Without even understanding the most basic essential issues of God and man, isn’t this kind of faith a faith without any perceptiveness? How could Paul possibly be the only person used throughout all the years of history? How could Paul possibly be the only person who worked for the church? How could he be the only one to have written to churches to support them? Regardless of the scale or influence of the work of these people or the results of their work, aren’t the principles and substance of such work all similar? Aren’t there things that are completely different about the work of these people and the work of God? Even though there are clear differences between each step of God’s work and many of the work methods are not completely the same, don’t they have just one substance and one source? Accordingly, if a person is still unclear about these things now, then they are too lacking in reason. If, after reading these words, a person still says Paul’s letters are holy and inviolable and are different from the biographies of any spiritual character, then this person has reason that is too abnormal, and such a person is undoubtedly a doctrine expert who is devoid of sense. Even if you worship Paul, you cannot use your warm feelings toward him to twist the truth of the facts or to refute the existence of truth. What’s more, what I have said in no way incinerates all Paul’s work and letters, or completely denies their value as a reference. No matter what, the meaning of what I have said is so that you have a correct understanding and a reasonable assessment of all things and people. This is normal reason. That is what righteous people who possess the truth ought to be equipped with.