Chapter 3 You Must Know the Truths About the Three Stages of God’s Work
1. What Is the Work of Managing Mankind?
Relevant Words of God:
The work of managing mankind is divided into three stages, which means that the work of saving mankind is divided into three stages. These three stages do not include the work of creating the world, but are rather the three stages of the work of the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom. The work of creating the world was the work of producing the whole of mankind. It was not the work of saving mankind, and bears no relation to the work of saving mankind, for when the world was created mankind had not been corrupted by Satan, and so there was no need to carry out the work of mankind’s salvation. The work of saving mankind only began once mankind had been corrupted, and so the work of managing mankind also only began once mankind had been corrupted. In other words, God’s management of man began as a result of the work of saving mankind, and did not arise from the work of creating the world. There could be no work of managing mankind without the corrupt disposition of mankind, and so the work of managing mankind includes three parts, rather than four stages, or four ages. Only this is the correct way to refer to God’s management of mankind. When the final age comes to a close, the work of managing mankind will have come to a complete end. The conclusion of the work of management means that the work of saving all mankind has been completely finished, and that mankind has reached his journey’s end. Without the work of saving all mankind, the work of managing mankind would not exist, nor would there be the three stages of work. It was precisely because of mankind’s depravity, and because mankind was in such urgent need of salvation, that Jehovah concluded the creation of the world and began the work of the Age of Law. Only then did the work of managing mankind begin, which means that only then did the work of saving mankind begin. “Managing mankind” does not mean guiding the life of newly-created mankind on earth (which is to say, a mankind that had yet to be corrupted). Rather, it is the salvation of a mankind that has been corrupted by Satan, which is to say, it is the changing of this corrupt mankind. This is the meaning of managing mankind. The work of saving mankind does not include the work of creating the world, and so the work of managing mankind does not include the work of creating the world, and only includes three stages of work that are separate from the world’s creation. To understand the work of managing mankind, it is necessary to be aware of the history of the three stages of work—this is what everyone must be aware of in order to be saved. As creatures of God, you should recognize that man was created by God, and should recognize the source of mankind’s corruption, and, moreover, should recognize the process of man’s salvation. If you only know how to act according to doctrine in order to gain God’s favor, but have no inkling of how God saves mankind, or of the source of mankind’s corruption, then this is what you lack as a creature of God. You should not only be satisfied with understanding those truths that can be put into practice, while remaining ignorant of the wider scope of God’s management work—if this is the case, then you are too dogmatic. The three stages of work are the inside story of God’s management of man, the advent of the gospel of the entire universe, the greatest mystery among all mankind, and are also the foundation of spreading the gospel. If you only focus on understanding simple truths that relate to your life, and know nothing of this, the greatest of all mysteries and visions, then is your life not akin to a defective product, good for nothing except being looked at?
from “Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The management work only came about because of mankind, which means it was only produced by the existence of mankind. There was no management before mankind, or in the beginning, when the heavens and earth and all things were created. If, in all of God’s work, there were not practice that is beneficial to man, which is to say, if God did not make fitting requirements of corrupt mankind (if, in the work done by God, there were no suitable path for man’s practice), then this work could not be called God’s management. If the entirety of God’s work only involved telling corrupt mankind how to go about their practice, and God did not carry out any of His own enterprise, and exhibited not a shred of His omnipotence or wisdom, then no matter how high God’s requirements of man, no matter how long God lived among man, man would know nothing of God’s disposition; if that were the case, then work of this kind would be even less worthy of being called God’s management. Simply put, the work of God’s management is the work done by God, and all the work carried out under the guidance of God by those who have been gained by God. Such work can be summarized as management, and refers to God’s work among man, as well as the cooperation with Him of all those who follow Him; all these can collectively be called management. Here, the work of God is called visions, and the cooperation of man is called practice. The higher God’s work (that is, the higher the visions), the more that God’s disposition is made plain to man, and the more that it is at odds with the conceptions of man, and the higher are the practice and cooperation of man. The higher the requirements of man, the more that God’s work is at odds with the conceptions of man, as a result of which the trials of man, and the standards that he is required to meet, also become higher. At the conclusion of this work, all visions will have been made complete, and that which man is required to put into practice will have reached the acme of perfection. This will also be the time when each is classed according to kind, for that which man is required to know will have been shown to man. So, when the visions reach their apogee, the work will accordingly approach its end, and man’s practice will have also reached its zenith. The practice of man is based on the work of God, and the management of God is only fully expressed thanks to the practice of man and cooperation of man. Man is the showpiece of God’s work, and the object of the work of all of God’s management, and also the product of God’s entire management. If God worked alone, without the cooperation of man, then there would be nothing that could serve as the crystallization of His entire work, and in this way there would not be the slightest significance to God’s management. Only by choosing a fitting object that is outside of God’s work, and which can express this work, and prove its omnipotence and wisdom, is it possible to achieve the aim of God’s management, and achieve the aim of using all of this work to completely defeat Satan. And so, man is an indispensable part of the work of God’s management, and man is the only one that can make God’s management bear fruit and achieve its ultimate aim; apart from man, no other life form can undertake such a role. If man is to become the true crystallization of the management work, then the disobedience of corrupt mankind must be entirely dispelled. This requires that man be given practice suitable for different times, and that God carry out the corresponding work among man. Only in this way will there ultimately be gained a group of people who are the crystallization of the management work. God’s work among man cannot bear testimony to God Himself merely through the work of God alone; such testimony also requires living human beings that are suitable for His work in order to be achieved. God will first work upon these people, through whom His work will then be expressed, and thus such testimony of His will be borne among the creatures. And in this, God will have achieved the aim of His work. God does not work alone to defeat Satan because He cannot bear direct testimony to Himself among all creatures. If He were to do so, it would be impossible to utterly convince man, so God must work on man in order to conquer him, and only then will He be able to gain testimony among all creatures. If God alone were to work, and there were not the cooperation of man, or if man were not required to cooperate, then man would never be able to know God’s disposition, and would forever be unaware of God’s will; in this way, it could not be called the work of God’s management. If only man himself were to strive, and seek, and work hard, but he did not understand the work of God, then man would be playing pranks. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, that which man does is of Satan, he is rebellious and an evildoer; Satan is exhibited in all that is done by corrupt mankind, and there is nothing that is compatible with God, and all are the manifestation of Satan. Nothing in all that has been spoken of is exclusive of visions and practice. Upon the foundation of visions, man finds practice, he finds the path of obedience, so that he may put aside his conceptions and gain those things that he has not possessed in the past. God requires that man cooperate with Him, that man completely submit to His requirements, and man asks to behold the work done by God Himself, to experience the almighty power of God, and to know God’s disposition. These, in summary, are the management of God. God’s union with man is the management, and the greatest management.
from “God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh