Supplementary Sermon and Fellowship Extracts
Question 6: In the Age of Grace, God became flesh to serve as a sin offering for mankind, redeeming them from sin. In the last days God has again become flesh to express the truth and to do His work of judgment in order to thoroughly purify and save man. So why does God need to incarnate twice to do the work of saving mankind? And what is the true significance of God incarnating twice?
About why God must be incarnated twice to do the work of saving mankind, we should first be clear: With regard to the salvation of mankind, God’s two incarnations have a deep and profound meaning. Because the work of salvation, no matter if we’re talking about the redemption or the judgment and purification and salvation of the last days, cannot be performed by man. It requires God to be incarnated and perform the work Himself. In the Age of Grace, God was incarnated as the Lord Jesus, that is, God’s Spirit clothed Himself in a holy and sinless flesh, and was nailed to the cross to serve as a sin offering, redeeming man from his sinfulness. We all understand this. But as for the return of the Lord Jesus in the last days, why is He incarnated in the flesh as the Son of man to appear and work? Many have a hard time understanding this. If Almighty God had not explained this aspect of the truth and unveiled this mystery, no one would have understood this truth.
In the Age of Grace God was incarnated the first time merely to do the work of redemption, using the crucifixion as a sin offering to redeem us humans from our sinfulness, to relieve us from the curses and condemnation of the law. We had only to confess our sins and repent and our sins would be forgiven. We could then enjoy the bountiful grace and truth which God bestowed upon us. This is the work of redemption which the Lord Jesus did, and is the true meaning of being saved by faith in the Lord. Though the Lord Jesus pardoned us of our sins, we have yet to wrest ourselves from the fetters of sinfulness, for we are still possessed of our sinful nature and satanic disposition. Though we have admitted our sins to the Lord and have gained His pardon, we have no knowledge of our sinful nature, and have even less knowledge of our corrupt disposition, a condition much more serious than sinfulness. We are only capable of recognizing that sin within ourselves which consists of lawlessness, and that which results in the accusation of our conscience. But we fail to recognize the deeper sins, the sin of resistance to God. For instance, we have no knowledge of the root of our resistance to God, or how our satanic disposition is made manifest, how the satanic nature came to be, what Satan’s poisons exist within our nature, where man’s satanic philosophy and satanic logic and rules arise from. So why is it that we have no knowledge of these satanic things? Given that man has been pardoned of his sins by the Lord Jesus, why can’t he wrest himself from the fetters of sinfulness, and why does he even continue to commit the same sins? Is he truly purified once he has been pardoned of his sins? This is a truly practical issue that no one in the Age of Grace seems to understand. Though in our belief in the Lord, we are pardoned of our sins, we still unknowingly commit sins, resisting and betraying God. We believers all have first-hand knowledge of this. For instance, even after putting faith in the Lord, we continue to lie, to be vain, to despise the truth and uphold evil. We are still arrogant, treacherous, selfish and greedy; we are helplessly caught up in the corrupt satanic disposition. We work tirelessly for the Lord, but we do so in the hopes of being rewarded and entering into the kingdom of heaven. When we enjoy the Lord’s grace we are happy and resolute in our faith in the Lord; but as soon as we are faced with disaster, or there is some tragedy in the family, we misunderstand, blame and even deny and betray the Lord. As soon as God’s work is not in line with our conceptions and illusions, we act like hypocritical Pharisees, resisting and condemning God. We have first-hand experience of this. What does all this prove? This goes to show that though we accepted the Lord Jesus’ salvation and were forgiven our sins, this does not mean that we have thoroughly rid ourselves of sin and are now purified, even less does it mean that we have become of God and have been gained by God. So, when the Lord Jesus comes again to do the work of judgment in the last days, many from the religious world come to judge, condemn and blaspheme God, publicly announcing Him as their adversary and nailing Him once again to the cross. Could those that publicly condemn and resist God be raptured into the kingdom of heaven just on the basis of their sins being pardoned? Could God allow these evil forces that resist God within the kingdom of heaven? Would God rapture these antichrists, these haters of truth, into the kingdom of heaven? As we can see, though we are pardoned of our sins through our faith in the Lord, we have not fully rid ourselves of sinfulness, rid ourselves of the satanic influences, and have even less so been gained by God and become of God. So, if we wish to rid ourselves of sin and achieve purification, to be fully gained by God, we must be thoroughly purified and saved by the work of God’s second incarnation.
We have far too simple a view of God’s work of salvation, as if as soon as our sins were pardoned there were no other issues, and all that was left was just to wait to be raptured by the Lord into the kingdom of heaven. How naive and childish we corrupt humans are! How ridiculous man’s conceptions and illusions! Was sin the only problem to afflict man after being corrupted by Satan? What is the root of man’s sin? What is sin? Why does God detest it? To this day, no one has a proper understanding. Man has been corrupted thoroughly by Satan, to what degree is their corruption? No one is clear. The reality of man’s thorough corruption was made evident during the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. The fact that humans could crucify the merciful Lord Jesus, who had expressed so much truth, truly showed that man had become the descendant of Satan, the ilk of Satan, and had entirely lost their humanity, they did not even possess the slightest modicum of rationality or conscience. Who among man still possesses normal humanity? Doesn’t man’s resistance and animosity toward God indicate that man has come to the point where it’s either them or Him, where they become irreconcilable with God? Can this problem really be solved by having their sins be pardoned? Who can guarantee that by having our sins pardoned, we won’t resist God or take Him as our enemy? No one can guarantee it! Our sins may be pardoned, but can God pardon our nature, a nature which is resistant to God? Can God pardon our satanic disposition that fills us? How does God resolve these things belonging to Satan? Without a doubt, God uses judgment and chastisement. And for those who never repent, God will destroy them with disasters. It’s fair to say, without God’s righteous judgment and chastisement, corrupt man would not be conquered, much less would they sink to the ground in deep regret. This is the main reason why God must be incarnated to do the work of judgment. There are many who question and have conceptions regarding God being incarnated to do the work of judgment in the last days. Why is this so? This is because we fail to see the reality of man’s absolute corruption. So, as a result, we don’t have the slightest understanding of the meaning of God’s work of judgment in the last days. We fail to seek and investigate the true way. In this way, how could we possibly accept and obey God’s work?
Incarnation refers to God’s Spirit becoming clothed in flesh and turning into an ordinary and normal person to do the work of God Himself. The incarnate God must have normal humanity, must work and speak within normal humanity. Even when He performs miracles, they must be performed within normal humanity. In outward appearance, God incarnate appears normal. He seems to do His work like a normal, average human. If He didn’t have normal humanity and work in His normal humanity, He would not be the incarnation of God. The incarnation means that God’s Spirit is realized in the flesh. Within normal humanity, He expresses the truth and does the work of God Himself, redeeming and saving mankind. This is the significance of the incarnation. Now what is the significance of God’s two incarnations? What is meant primarily is that God’s two incarnations have completed the significance of incarnation, accomplished the work of the Word appearing in the flesh and completed God’s management plan to save mankind. This is the significance of God’s two incarnations. We should all be clear the purpose of God’s first incarnation was to do the work of redemption and to pave the way for the work of judgment in the last days. So, God’s first incarnation did not complete the significance of the incarnation. The purpose of God’s second incarnation is to do the work of judgment in the last days and thoroughly save mankind from the domain of Satan, to relieve mankind of their satanic disposition, free them from the influence of Satan so that they may return to God and be gained by Him. Almighty God, Christ of the last days, has expressed the entirety of the truth to purify and save mankind, completed all the work of God in the flesh, and expressed all the words that God must express in His incarnate flesh. Only in so doing has He completed the work of the Word appearing in the flesh. … God’s two incarnations complete all the work of God in the flesh, that is, God’s work of complete salvation of man. So, in the future, God will not be incarnated again. There will be no third or fourth time. Because God’s work in the flesh has already been fully accomplished. This is what is meant by the statement that God has been incarnated twice to complete the significance of the incarnation.
God has been incarnated twice to complete the significance of the incarnation. For those who have yet to experience God’s work of judgment in the last days, this is difficult to understand. Those who only experienced the work of redemption in the Age of Grace know that the Lord Jesus is the incarnate God. But few understand that the Lord Jesus’ work was limited to redemption alone and He did not accomplish the work of the Word appearing in the flesh. Which is to say, the Lord Jesus did not express the entirety of the truth of the incarnate God’s complete salvation of mankind. So the Lord Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (Jhn 16:12–13). Now the Lord Jesus has returned to the flesh as the Son of man. He is Almighty God, Christ of the last days. He is here doing the work of judgment beginning with God’s house, here expressing the entirety of truth which will purify and save mankind, the truth contained in The Word Appears in the Flesh. God’s incarnation speaks for the first time in God’s identity to the entire universe, proclaiming His word. He proclaims the details of God’s management plan to save mankind, He expresses God’s will, His demands toward all of mankind and man’s destination.
Let’s see how Almighty God explains this: “It is fair to say that this was the first time since the creation that God had addressed all mankind. Never before had God spoken to created mankind in such detail and so systematically. Of course, this was also the first time He had spoken so much, and for so long, to all mankind. It was totally unprecedented. What’s more, these utterances were the first text expressed by God among mankind in which He exposed people, guided them, judged them, and spoke heart-to-heart to them and so, too, were they the first utterances in which God let people know His footsteps, the place in which He lies, God’s disposition, what God has and is, God’s thoughts, and His concern for mankind. It can be said that these were the first utterances that God had spoken to mankind from the third heaven since the creation, and the first time that God had used His inherent identity to appear and express the voice of His heart to mankind amid words” (Introduction to God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“This is because I bring the end of mankind to the world, and from this point on, I lay bare My entire disposition before mankind, so that all who know Me and all those who do not may feast their eyes and see that I have indeed come to the human world, have come onto the earth where all things multiply. This is My plan, and My sole ‘confession’ since My creation of mankind. May you give your undivided attention to My every move, for My rod once again presses close to mankind, to all those who oppose Me” (“Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
With regard to God’s two incarnations to complete the significance of the incarnation, there are those that just don’t get it, because they lack experience. When they hear of it, they just don’t understand. Now let’s go into the details of the work performed during God’s two incarnations. During God’s first incarnation, He performed the work of redemption, manifesting many miracles: He fed five thousand with just five loaves of bread and two fish. He calmed the wind and the waves with just a word. He resurrected Lazarus. Also, the Lord Jesus fasted and was tempted in the wilderness for forty days. He walked on the sea. And so on. Because the Lord Jesus’ flesh performed miracles, and He was transfigured atop the mountain, in the eyes of us humans, though the Lord Jesus was incarnated in the flesh, He still possessed supernatural elements. He was different than the average man, miracles followed wherever He appeared. Also, the Lord Jesus did only one stage of the work, the work of redemption. He only expressed the truth of the work of redemption, mainly manifesting God’s disposition of compassion and love. He did not express all the truths of the work of judgment and salvation, and He did not express to man God’s righteous, holy and unoffendable disposition. So it cannot be said that the first incarnation completed the meaning of the incarnation. Just as Almighty God says, “The stage of work which Jesus performed only fulfilled the substance of ‘the Word was with God’: The truth of God was with God, and the Spirit of God was with the flesh and was inseparable from that flesh. That is, the flesh of God incarnate was with the Spirit of God, which is greater proof that Jesus incarnate was the first incarnation of God” (“Practice (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s incarnation in the last days is different from the first incarnation. In the second incarnation, God has not performed miracles, He is not at all supernatural. In outward appearance He looks like a normal and ordinary human, doing His work and speaking His word practically and realistically among men. He has expressed the truth to judge, purify, and perfect man. Almighty God has revealed all of the mysteries of God’s management plan, and manifested God’s inherent righteous and holy disposition, all that God is and has, God’s will, and His demands of man. Also, He has judged and exposed man’s satanic nature and corrupt dispositions which resist God, and in so doing, conquered, perfected, exposed, and eliminated man, each unto his own kind. All of the truth with which God endows man in the last days is expressed within the normal humanity of His flesh, there is nothing supernatural about it. All that we see is a normal and ordinary man speaking His word and doing His work, but the word which Christ speaks is all the truth. It has authority and power, it can purify and save man. From the word of Christ, which judges and exposes the truth and substance of man’s corruption, we see how God penetrates to the very core of man in His observation of him, how God has a thorough understanding of man. We also come to know God’s righteous, holy, and unoffendable disposition. From Christ’s admonishment and exhortation, we perceive God’s compassion and concern for man. From the many ways in which Christ speaks and works, we come to appreciate God’s almightiness and wisdom, the earnest intentions with which God works to save mankind, and God’s true love and salvation of man. From the way in which Christ treats all people, matters, and things, we come to understand how God’s pleasure, anger, sorrow, and happiness are all the realities of positive things, and how they are all the expression of God’s disposition and natural manifestations of the substance of God’s life. From Christ’s word and work, we see how God is supreme and great and how He humbly hides Himself, we gain a true understanding and knowledge of God’s inherent disposition and true face, causing us to develop a thirst for the truth and reverence for God in our hearts, to truly love and obey God. This is the effect of the word and work of God’s second incarnation on us. The word and work of God’s second incarnation not only allow us to see God become flesh but also allow us to see the fact of God’s word appearing in the flesh. God’s word accomplishes all things. This normal, average flesh is the embodiment of the Spirit of truth. The incarnate God is the truth, the way, and the life! He is the appearance of the only one true God! Only with the appearance and work of Almighty God has the significance of the incarnation been completed.
Now everyone of us has a bit more understanding of how God’s two incarnations complete the significance of the incarnation. We are now aware of the fact that the work of God’s salvation of mankind is accomplished through the work of the incarnation. The stage of work which the Lord Jesus carried out was the work of redemption. The truth He expressed was very limited, so, having experienced the Lord Jesus’ work, our knowledge of God was still limited. Almighty God has come to do the work of judgment in the last days, and expressed the entirety of the truth of God’s righteous judgment of man’s corruption. This allows us to see God’s inherent disposition and know His righteous and holy substance. So, God incarnate of the last days has thoroughly completed God’s work in the flesh. He has expressed the entirety of the truth which God is meant to express in the flesh, thereby fulfilling the fact of the Word appearing in the flesh. This is how God’s two incarnations complete the meaning of the incarnation. God’s two incarnations are indispensable, and supplement and complement each other. So one cannot say that God can only be incarnated once, or that He will be incarnated three or four times. Because God’s two incarnations have already completed the work of God’s salvation of mankind, and expressed the entirety of the mankind-saving truth that God’s incarnations are meant to express. Thus, God’s two incarnations have completed the meaning of the incarnation.
Excerpted from Classic Questions and Answers on the Gospel of the Kingdom