XII. One Must Fellowship Clearly on Truths Concerning the Wise Virgins Hearing the Voice of God
1. How exactly should one discern the voice of God? How can one confirm that Almighty God is indeed the Lord Jesus returned?
Bible Verses for Reference:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jhn 10:27).
“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).
“He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7).
“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Rev 5:5).
“I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, said the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8).
Relevant Words of God:
The words of God incarnate initiate a new age, guide the whole of mankind, reveal mysteries, and show man the direction ahead in a new age. The enlightenment obtained by man is but simple practice or knowledge. It cannot guide the whole of mankind into a new age or reveal the mystery of God Himself. God, after all, is God, and man is man. God has the substance of God, and man has the substance of man.
from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
Knowing God must be done through reading and understanding God’s word, practicing and experiencing God’s word. Some say: “I haven’t seen God incarnate, so how could I know God?” In fact, God’s word is an expression of God’s disposition. From God’s word you can see God’s love and salvation for mankind, and His method for saving them…. This is because God’s word is expressed by God Himself as opposed to using man to write it out. It is personally expressed by God—He is expressing His own words and His inner voice. Why is it said that they are heartfelt words? Because they are issued from deep down, expressing His disposition, His will, His thoughts, His love for mankind, His salvation of mankind, and His expectations of mankind…. Among God’s words are harsh words, gentle and considerate words, and there are some revelatory words that are not in line with human wishes. If you look only at the revelatory words, you will feel that God is quite stern. If you look only at the gentle words, you will feel that God does not have much authority. Therefore, you must not take this out of context, but look at it from every angle. Sometimes God speaks from a gentle and compassionate perspective, and people see God’s love for mankind; sometimes He speaks from a strict perspective, and people see God’s disposition that will tolerate no offense. Man is deplorably filthy and is not worthy of seeing God’s face or of coming before God. That people can now come before God is purely God’s grace. God’s wisdom can be seen from the way He works and the meaning of His work. People can still see these things in God’s word even without directly contacting Him.
from “How to Know God Incarnate” in Records of Christ’s Talks
This time, God comes to do work not in a spiritual body but in a very ordinary one. Not only is it the body of God’s second incarnation, but also the body in which God returns. It is a very ordinary flesh. In Him, you cannot see anything that is different from others, but you can receive from Him the truths you have never heard before. This insignificant flesh is the embodiment of all the words of truth from God, that which undertakes God’s work in the last days, and an expression of the whole of God’s disposition for man to come to know. Did you not desire greatly to see the God in heaven? Did you not desire greatly to understand the God in heaven? Did you not desire greatly to see the destination of mankind? He will tell you all these secrets that no man has been able to tell you, and He will even tell you of the truths that you do not understand. He is your gate into the kingdom, and your guide into the new age. Such an ordinary flesh holds many unfathomable mysteries. His deeds may be inscrutable to you, but the goal of all the work He does is sufficient for you to see that He is not a simple flesh as man believes. For He represents the will of God as well as the care shown by God toward mankind in the last days. Though you cannot hear the words He speaks that seem to shake the heavens and earth or see His eyes like blazing flames, and though you cannot feel the discipline of His iron rod, you can hear from His words the fury of God and know that God shows compassion for mankind; you can see the righteous disposition of God and His wisdom, and moreover, realize the concern and care that God has for all mankind.
from “Do You Know? God Has Done a Great Thing Among Men” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
When God comes to earth, His work and all that man sees of Him are supernatural. What you behold with your eyes and what you hear with your ears are all supernatural, for His work and His words are incomprehensible and unattainable to man. If something of heaven is brought to earth, how can it be anything but supernatural? When the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are brought to earth, mysteries that are incomprehensible and unfathomable to man, that are too wondrous and wise—are they not all supernatural? … Consider the work done by the incarnate God in the present day: What aspect of it is not supernatural? His words are incomprehensible and unattainable to you, and the work He does can be done by no man. What He understands man has no way of understanding, and as for His knowledge, man knows not whence it comes. There are some who say, “I too am ordinary in the same way as You are, but how is it that I do not know what You know? I am older and richer in experience, yet how can You know of that which I do not?” All of this, as far as man is concerned, is something that man has no way of attaining. Then there are those who say: “No one knows of the work that was carried out in Israel; how come You know? Even the Bible expositors can offer no explanation; how come You know?” Are these not all matters of the supernatural? He has encountered no wonders, yet He knows all and the word comes to Him with the greatest of ease. Is this not supernatural? His work transcends that which flesh can attain to. It is unattainable to the thought of any man with a body of flesh and utterly inconceivable to the reasoning of the mind of man. Though He has never read the Bible, He understands the work of God in Israel. And though He stands on earth as He speaks, He speaks of the mysteries of the third heaven. When man reads these words, this feeling will overcome him: “Is this not the language of the third heaven?” Are these not all matters that exceed what a normal man is capable of achieving?
from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
He is well aware of the essence of man, He can reveal all kinds of practices pertaining to all kinds of people. He is even better at revealing human corrupt disposition and rebellious behavior. He does not live among the worldly people, but He is aware of the nature of the mortals and all the corruptions of the worldly people. This is what He is. Though He does not deal with the world, He knows the rules of dealing with the world, because He fully understands human nature. He knows about the Spirit’s work that man’s eyes cannot see and that man’s ears cannot hear, both of today and of the past. This includes wisdom that is not a life philosophy and wonder that people find hard to fathom. This is what He is, made open to people and also hidden from people. What He expresses is not what an extraordinary person is, but the inherent attributes and being of the Spirit. He does not travel around the world but knows everything of it. He contacts the “anthropoids” who have no knowledge or insight, but He expresses words that are higher than knowledge and above great men. He lives among a group of obtuse and numb people who do not have humanity and who do not understand the human conventions and lives, but He can ask mankind to live out normal humanity, at the same time revealing the base and low humanity of mankind. All of this are what He is, higher than what any flesh-and-blood person is. For Him, it is unnecessary to experience a complicated, cumbersome and sordid social life to do the work that He needs to do and thoroughly reveal the essence of corrupt mankind. The sordid social life does not edify His flesh. His work and words only reveal man’s disobedience and do not provide man with the experience and lessons for dealing with the world. He does not need to investigate society or man’s family when He supplies man with life. Exposing and judging man is not an expression of the experiences of His flesh; it is to reveal man’s unrighteousness after long knowing man’s disobedience and abhorring mankind’s corruption. The work He does is all to reveal His disposition to man and express His being. Only He can do this work, it is not something that a flesh-and-blood person could achieve.
from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
He who is God’s incarnation shall hold the substance of God, and He who is God’s incarnation shall hold the expression of God. Since God becomes flesh, He shall bring forth the work He must do, and since God becomes flesh, He shall express what He is, and shall be able to bring the truth to man, bestow life upon man, and show man the way. Flesh that does not contain the substance of God is surely not the incarnate God; of this there is no doubt. To investigate whether it is God’s incarnate flesh, man must determine this from the disposition He expresses and the words He speaks. Which is to say, whether or not it is God’s incarnate flesh, and whether or not it is the true way, must be judged from His substance. And so, in determining[a] whether it is the flesh of God incarnate, the key is to pay attention to His substance (His work, His words, His disposition, and many more), rather than external appearance. If man sees only His external appearance, and overlooks His substance, then that shows the ignorance and naivety of man.
from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
From His work, it can be seen that, first, He is able to open up a new age; second, He is able to supply the life of man and show man the way to follow. This is sufficient to establish that He is God Himself. At the very least, the work He does can fully represent the Spirit of God, and from such work it can be seen that the Spirit of God is within Him. As the work done by the incarnate God was mainly to usher in a new age, lead new work, and open up new circumstances, these few conditions alone are sufficient to establish that He is God Himself.
from “The Difference Between the Ministry of the Incarnate God and the Duty of Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
After the work of Jehovah, Jesus became flesh to do His work amongst man. His work was not carried out in isolation, but built upon the work of Jehovah. It was work for a new age after God had concluded the Age of Law. Similarly, after the work of Jesus ended, God still continued His work for the next age, because the entire management of God is always progressing forward. When the old age passes, it will be replaced by a new age, and once the old work has been completed, a new work will continue the management of God. This incarnation is God’s second incarnation following the completion of Jesus’ work. Of course, this incarnation does not occur independently, but is the third stage of work after the Age of Law and the Age of Grace. … When Jesus came into the world of man, He brought the Age of Grace and ended the Age of Law. During the last days, God once more became flesh, and when He became flesh this time, He ended the Age of Grace and brought the Age of Kingdom. All those who accept the second incarnation of God will be led into the Age of Kingdom, and be able to personally accept the guidance of God. Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering, and did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to take on the sins of man as the sin offering, but also required God to do greater work to completely rid man of his disposition, which has been corrupted by Satan. And so, after man was forgiven his sins, God has returned to flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment, and this work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and shall gain the truth, the way, and the life.
from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
At the time that Jesus was doing His work, man’s knowledge of Him was still vague and unclear. Man always believed Him to be the son of David, and proclaimed Him to be a great prophet, the benevolent Lord who redeemed man’s sins. Some, on the strength of their faith, were healed just from touching the edge of His garment; the blind could see and even the dead could be restored to life. However, man was unable to discover the corrupt satanic disposition deeply rooted within himself, neither did he know how to cast it away. Man received much grace, such as the peace and happiness of the flesh, the faith of one member bringing blessing on an entire family, the healing of sickness, and so on. The rest were the good deeds of man and his godly appearance; if man could live on the basis of these, he was considered an acceptable believer. Only believers of this kind could enter heaven after death, which means that they were saved. But, in their lifetime, these people did not understand at all the way of life. All they did was to commit sins and then confess their sins in a constant cycle without making any path toward changing their disposition: Such was the condition of man in the Age of Grace. Has man received complete salvation? No! Therefore, after that stage of work was finished, there still remained the work of judgment and chastisement. This stage is to make man pure by means of the word and thereby give him a path to follow. This stage would not be fruitful or meaningful if it continued with the casting out of demons, for it would fail to extirpate man’s sinful nature, and man would come to a standstill at the forgiveness of his sins. Through the sin offering, man has been forgiven his sins, for the work of the crucifixion has already come to an end and God has prevailed over Satan. But the corrupt disposition of man still remaining within him, man can still sin and resist God, and God has not gained mankind. That is why in this stage of work God uses the word to expose the corrupt disposition of man, causing him to practice in accordance with the right path. This stage is more meaningful than the previous one, as well as more fruitful, for now it is the word that directly supplies man’s life and enables the disposition of man to be completely renewed; it is a much more thorough stage of work. Therefore, the incarnation in the last days has completed the significance of God’s incarnation and completely finished God’s plan of management for man’s salvation.
from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
I was once known as Jehovah. I was also called the Messiah, and people once called Me Jesus the Savior because they loved and respected Me. But today I am not the Jehovah or Jesus that people knew in times past—I am the God who has returned in the last days, the God who shall bring the age to an end. I am the God Himself that rises up at the ends of the earth, replete with My entire disposition, and full of authority, honor and glory. People have never engaged with Me, have never known Me, and have always been ignorant of My disposition. From the creation of the world until today, not one person has seen Me. This is the God who appears to man during the last days but is hidden among man. He resides among man, true and real, like the burning sun and the flaming fire, filled with power and brimming with authority. There is not a single person or thing that shall not be judged by My words, and not a single person or thing that shall not be purified through the burning of fire. Eventually, all nations shall be blessed because of My words, and also smashed to pieces because of My words. In this way, all people during the last days shall see that I am the Savior returned, I am the Almighty God that conquers all of mankind, and I was once the sin offering for man, but in the last days I also become the flames of the sun that burn all things, as well as the Sun of righteousness that reveals all things. Such is My work of the last days. I took this name and am possessed of this disposition so that all people may see that I am a righteous God, and am the burning sun, and the flaming fire. It is so that all may worship Me, the only true God, and so that they may see My true face: I am not only the God of the Israelites, and am not just the Redeemer—I am the God of all creatures throughout heavens and earth and seas.
from “The Savior Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud’” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
God continues His utterances, employing various methods and perspectives to admonish us about what we should do while at the same time giving voice to His heart. His words carry life power, show us the way we should walk, and enable us to understand what the truth is. We begin to be drawn by His words, we begin to focus on the tone and manner of His speaking, and subconsciously we begin to take an interest in the innermost feelings of this unremarkable person. He spits up His heart’s blood in working on our behalf, loses sleep and appetite on our account, weeps for us, sighs for us, groans in sickness for us, suffers humiliation for the sake of our destination and salvation, and our numbness and rebelliousness draw tears and blood from His heart. This way of being and of having belongs to no ordinary person, nor can it be possessed or attained by any corrupted human being. He shows tolerance and patience possessed by no ordinary person, and His love is not something with which any created being is endowed. No one apart from Him can know all of our thoughts, or have such a clear and complete grasp of our nature and substance, or judge the rebelliousness and corruption of mankind, or speak to us and work among us like this on behalf of God in heaven. No one apart from Him is endowed with the authority, wisdom, and dignity of God; the disposition of God and what God has and is are brought forth, in their entirety, in Him. No one apart from Him can show us the way and bring us light. No one apart from Him can reveal the mysteries that God has not disclosed from creation until today. No one apart from Him can save us from Satan’s bondage and our own corrupt disposition. He represents God. He expresses the inmost heart of God, the exhortations of God, and God’s words of judgment toward all mankind. He has begun a new age, a new era, and ushered in a new heaven and earth and new work, and He has brought us hope, ending the life we led in vagueness and enabling our whole being to behold, in total clarity, the path to salvation. He has conquered our whole being, and gained our hearts. From that moment onward, our minds have become conscious, and our spirits seem to be revived: This ordinary, insignificant person, who lives among us and has long been rejected by us—is this not the Lord Jesus, who is ever in our thoughts, waking or dreaming, and for whom we long night and day? It is He! It really is He! He is our God! He is the truth, the way, and the life!
from “Beholding the Appearance of God in His Judgment and Chastisement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The work being done at present 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, God’s work has made progress. Why do I say time and again that this stage of work builds upon the Age of Grace and the Age of Law? This means that 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 and each link in the chain is 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 even higher than before. It may be said that this stage of work is built on the foundation of the Age of Law and on the rock of Jesus’ work. The 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 work of this stage is done on the foundation of the work of the Age of Grace. If these two stages of work were unrelated, then why is the crucifixion not repeated in this stage? Why do I not bear the sins of man, but instead come to judge and chastise man directly? If My work to judge and chastise man and My coming now not by the conception of the Holy Spirit did not follow the crucifixion, then I would not be qualified to judge and chastise man. It is precisely because I am one with Jesus that I come directly to chastise and judge man. The work at this stage is built entirely on the work in the preceding stage. That is why only work of this kind can bring man, step by step, into salvation. Jesus and I come from one Spirit. Even though We are unrelated in Our fleshes, Our Spirits are one; even though the content of what We do and the work that We take on are not the same, We are alike in essence; Our fleshes take different forms, but this is due to the change in era and the differing requirements of Our work; Our ministries are not alike, so the work We bring forth and the disposition We reveal to man are also different. That is why what man sees and understands this day is unlike that of the past; this is so because of the change in era. For all that They are different in the gender and the form of Their fleshes, and that They were not born of the same family, still less in the same time period, Their Spirits are nonetheless one. For all that Their fleshes share neither blood nor physical kinship of any kind, it cannot be denied that They are the incarnation of God in two different time periods. That They are the incarnate fleshes of God is an irrefutable truth, even though They are not of the same bloodline and do not share a common human language (one was a male who spoke the language of the Jews and the other a female who exclusively speaks Chinese). It is for these reasons that They have lived in different countries to do the work that it behooves each one to do, and in different time periods too. Despite the fact that They are the same Spirit, possessed of the same essence, there are no absolute similarities at all between the outward shells of Their fleshes. All They share is the same humanity, but as far as external appearance of Their fleshes and the circumstances of Their birth are concerned, They are not alike. These things have no impact on Their respective work or on the knowledge that man has of Them, for, in the final analysis, They are the same Spirit and none can separate Them. Even though They are not related by blood, Their entire beings are in the charge of Their Spirits, which allocates to Them different work in different time periods, and Their fleshes to different bloodlines. Similarly, the Spirit of Jehovah is not the father of the Spirit of Jesus, and the Spirit of Jesus is not the son of the Spirit of Jehovah: They are one and the same Spirit. Just like the incarnate God of today and Jesus. Though They are not related by blood, They are one; this is because Their Spirits are one. God can do the work of mercy and lovingkindness, as well as that of the righteous judgment and of chastisement of man, and that of calling down curses on man; and in the end, He can do the work of destroying the world and punishing the wicked. Does He not do all of this Himself? Is this not the omnipotence of God?
from “The Two Incarnations Complete the Significance of the Incarnation” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The work of the second incarnate flesh seems to people utterly unlike that of the first, so much so that the two seem to have nothing in common, and nothing of the first’s work can be seen this time. Though the work of the second incarnate flesh is different from that of the first, that does not prove that Their source is not one and the same. Whether Their source is the same depends on the nature of the work done by the fleshes and not on Their outer shells. During the three stages of His work, God has been incarnated twice, and both times the work of God incarnate inaugurates a new age, ushers in a new work; the incarnations complement each other. It is impossible for human eyes to tell that the two fleshes actually come from the same source. Needless to say, it is beyond the capacity of the human eye or of the human mind. But in Their essence They are the same, for Their work originates from the same Spirit. Whether the two incarnate fleshes arise from the same source cannot be judged by the era and the place in which They were born, or other such factors, but by the divine work expressed by Them. The second incarnate flesh does not perform any of the work that Jesus did, for God’s work does not adhere to convention, but each time it opens up a new path. The second incarnate flesh does not aim to deepen or solidify the impression of the first flesh in people’s minds, but to complement it and to perfect it, to deepen man’s knowledge of God, to break all the rules that exist in people’s hearts, and to wipe out the fallacious images of God in their hearts. It can be said that no individual stage of God’s own work can give man a complete knowledge of Him; each gives only a part, not the whole. Though God has expressed His disposition in full, because of man’s limited faculties of understanding, his knowledge of God still remains incomplete. It is impossible, using human language, to convey the entirety of God’s disposition; how much less can a single stage of His work fully express God? He works in the flesh under the cover of His normal humanity, and one can only know Him by the expressions of His divinity, not by His bodily shell. God comes into the flesh to allow man to know Him by means of His various work, and no two stages of His work are alike. Only in this way can man have a full knowledge of God’s work in the flesh, not confined to one single facet. Though the work of the two incarnate fleshes is different, the essence of the fleshes, and the source of Their work, are identical; it is just that They exist to perform two different stages of the work, and arise in two different ages. No matter what, God’s incarnate fleshes share the same essence and the same origin—this is a truth no one can deny.
from “The Essence of the Flesh Inhabited by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. The original text reads “as for.”