Work and Entry (6)
Work and entry are inherently practical; they refer to God’s work and man’s entry. Man’s complete inability to penetrate into God’s true face and God’s work has brought the utmost difficulty to his entry. To this day, many people still do not know what work God will accomplish in the last days, or why God endured extreme humiliation in order to come into the flesh to stand with man in weal and woe. From the goal of God’s work to the purpose of God’s plan for the last days, man is wholly in the dark about these things. For various reasons, people have always been lukewarm and equivocal about the entry that God demands of them, which has brought the utmost difficulty to God’s work in the flesh. It would appear that people have all become obstacles and, to this day, they are still unclear. For this reason, I think we should talk about the work that God does on man, all the way to God’s urgent intention, to make all of you into God’s loyal servants who, like Job, would rather die than reject God, enduring every humiliation; and who, like Peter, will offer up your whole being to God and become the intimates gained by God in the last days. Would that all brothers and sisters could give their all and offer up their whole being to God’s heavenly will, become holy servants in the house of God, and enjoy the promise of infinity bestowed by God, so that God the Father’s heart may soon enjoy peaceful rest. “Accomplish God the Father’s will” should be the motto of all who love God. These words should serve as man’s guide for entry and as the compass guiding his actions. This is the resolve that man should have. To bring to thorough completion God’s work on earth and cooperate with God’s work in the flesh—this is man’s duty, until one day, when God’s work is done, man will joyfully bid Him farewell as He returns early to the Father in heaven. Is this not the responsibility that man should fulfill?
When, in the Age of Grace, God returned to the third heaven, God’s work of redeeming all of mankind had actually already moved into its final part. All that remained on earth were the cross that Jesus bore on His back, the fine linen that Jesus was wrapped in, and the crown of thorns and scarlet robe that Jesus wore (these were objects with which the Jews mocked Him). That is, after the work of Jesus’ crucifixion caused an uproar for a time, things settled down again. From then on, Jesus’ disciples began to carry on His work, shepherding and watering in the churches everywhere. The content of their work was as follows: They caused all people to repent, confess their sins, and be baptized. The apostles all went forth to spread the inside story, the unvarnished account, of Jesus’ crucifixion, and so everyone could not help but fall prostrate before Jesus to confess their sins; and furthermore, the apostles went everywhere transmitting the words Jesus spoke and the laws and commandments He established. From that point began the building of churches in the Age of Grace. What Jesus did during that age was also to talk about man’s life and the heavenly Father’s will, only, because it was a different age, many of those sayings and practices differed greatly from those of today. However, in substance they are the same: They are both the work of God’s Spirit in the flesh, precisely and exactly so. This kind of work and utterance has continued all the way down to this day, and so this sort of thing remains that which is shared among the religious institutions of today, and it is utterly unchanged. When Jesus’ work was concluded and those on earth had already got onto the right track of Jesus Christ, God nevertheless initiated His plan for another stage of His work, which was the matter of His coming into the flesh in the last days. As man sees it, God’s crucifixion had already concluded the work of God’s incarnation, redeemed all of mankind, and allowed Him to seize the key to Hades. Everyone thinks God’s work has been fully accomplished. In fact, from God’s perspective, only a small part of His work had been accomplished. All He had done was to redeem mankind; He had not conquered mankind, let alone changed man’s satanic countenance. That is why God says, “Although My incarnate flesh went through the pain of death, that was not the whole goal of My incarnation. Jesus is My beloved Son and was nailed to the cross for Me, but He did not exhaustively conclude My work. He only did a portion of it.” Thus God initiated the second round of plans to continue the work of the incarnation. God’s ultimate intention was to perfect and to gain all of the people rescued from Satan’s clutches, which was why God prepared, once again, to brave the danger of coming into the flesh. What is meant by “incarnation” is that the flesh does not bring glory with Him (because God’s work is not yet finished), but He appears in the identity of the beloved Son, and is the Christ, in whom God is well pleased. That is why this is said to be “braving danger.” The incarnate flesh is of minuscule power and must exercise great caution, and His power stands poles apart from the authority of the Father in heaven; He only fulfills the ministry of the flesh, completing God the Father’s work and His commission without becoming involved in other work, and He only completes one part of the work. This is why God was named “the Christ” as soon as He came to earth—that is the embedded meaning of the name. The reason it is said that the coming is accompanied by temptations is because only one piece of work is being completed. Furthermore, the reason God the Father only calls Him “Christ” and “beloved Son,” but has not given Him all of the glory is precisely because the incarnate flesh comes to do one piece of work, not to represent the Father in heaven, but rather to fulfill the beloved Son’s ministry. When the beloved Son completes the entire commission He has accepted onto His shoulders, the Father will then give Him full glory along, with the identity of Father. One can say that this is “the code of heaven.” Because the One who has come into the flesh and the Father in heaven are in two different realms, the two only gaze toward each other in Spirit, the Father keeping an eye on the beloved Son but the Son unable to see the Father from afar. It is because the functions of which the flesh is capable are too minuscule and He can potentially be killed at any moment, that one can say this coming is fraught with the greatest danger. This is tantamount to God once again relinquishing His beloved Son into the tiger’s maw, where His life is in danger, putting Him in a place where Satan is most concentrated. Even in these dire circumstances, God still handed His beloved Son over to the people of a place filled with filthiness and licentiousness for them to “bring Him up into adulthood.” This is because to do so is the only way to make God’s work seem fitting and natural, and it is the only way to fulfill all the wishes of God the Father and complete the last part of His work among mankind. Jesus did no more than accomplish one stage of God the Father’s work. Because of the barrier imposed by the incarnate flesh and the differences in the work to be completed, Jesus Himself did not know that there would be a second return to the flesh. Therefore, no one who has read historical accounts about Him has ever discovered Jesus prophesying that God intended to become flesh for a second time to finish the entirety of His work in the flesh. Since even Jesus did not know of this matter, it stands to reason that the great prophets and Bible expositors also did not know that God intended to return to the flesh, that is to say, to come into the flesh again to do the second part of His work in the flesh. Therefore, no one realized that God had already long since hidden Himself in the flesh. Small wonder, because it was only after Jesus was resurrected and rose to heaven that He accepted this commission, so God’s second incarnation is without any tangible basis whatsoever and, like rootless water, is imponderable to the human mind. Furthermore, one would be hard to find any references to it even in that book of supreme renown, the Bible. In all of the many chapters and verses in the Bible, not a single sentence or word mentions this. But Jesus’ coming into the world was long prophesied and, moreover, He was conceived through the Holy Spirit. Even so, God still said this happened at risk of death, so how much the more so would it be the case today? No wonder God says this incarnation is at the risk of dangers thousands of times greater than those incurred during the Age of Grace. In many places, God has prophesied that He will be gaining a group of overcomers in the land of Sinim. Since it is in the world’s East that overcomers are to be gained, so the place where God sets foot in His second incarnation is without a doubt the land of Sinim, the exact spot where the great red dragon lies coiled. There, God will gain the descendants of the great red dragon so that it is thoroughly defeated and shamed. God is going to awaken these people, heavily burdened with suffering, to rouse them till they are fully awake, and to make them walk out of the fog and reject the great red dragon. They will wake from their dream, recognize the great red dragon for what it really is, become able to give their whole heart to God, rise up from the oppression of the dark forces, stand up in the East of the world, and become proof of God’s victory. Only in this way will God gain glory. For this reason alone, God brought the work that came to an end in Israel to the land where the great red dragon lies coiled and, nearly two thousand years after departing, has come once again into the flesh to continue the work of the Age of Grace. To man’s naked eye, God is launching new work in the flesh. But in God’s view, He is continuing the work of the Age of Grace, but only after an interregnum of a few thousand years, and only with a change in the location and the program of His work. Although the image that the body of the flesh has taken in today’s work appears to be completely different from Jesus, They derive from the same substance and root, and They come from the same source. Maybe They have many differences on the outside, but the inner truths of Their work are completely identical. The ages, after all, are as different as night and day. So how can God’s work follow an unchanging pattern? Or how can different stages of His work get in each other’s way?
Jesus took on the appearance of a Jew, conformed to the attire of the Jews, and grew up eating Jewish food. This is His normal human aspect. But today the incarnate flesh takes on the form of a citizen of Asia and grows up nurtured by the food of the nation of the great red dragon. These do not in any way conflict with the goal of God’s incarnation. Rather, they complement each other, bringing the true significance of God’s incarnation to fuller completion. Because the incarnate flesh is referred to as “Son of man” or “the Christ,” the exterior of today’s Christ cannot be spoken of in the same terms as Jesus Christ. After all, this flesh is called “Son of man” and is in the image of a body of flesh. Every stage of God’s work contains meaning of considerable depth. The reason Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit is because He was to redeem sinners. He had to be without sin. But only in the end, when He was forced to become the likeness of sinful flesh and took on the sins of the sinners, did He rescue them from the cursed cross, the cross with which God chastised humanity. (The cross is God’s tool for cursing and chastising humanity; whenever cursing and chastising are mentioned, it is with specific reference to sinners.) The goal was to make it so that all sinners would repent and, by means of the crucifixion, to cause them to confess their sins. That is, for the sake of redeeming all mankind, God was incarnated in a body of flesh that was conceived by the Holy Spirit and took on Himself the sins of all mankind. To describe this in everyday language, He offered a holy body of flesh in exchange for all sinners, which is the equivalent of Jesus being placed as a “sin offering” in front of Satan to “beseech” Satan to take the whole of innocent mankind that it had trampled and give them back to God. That is why conception by the Holy Spirit was necessary to the accomplishment of this stage of the work of redemption. This was a necessary condition, a “peace treaty” in the battle between God the Father and Satan. That is why it was only after Jesus was handed over to Satan that this stage of work was concluded. However, God’s work of redemption has today achieved a previously unparalleled degree of magnificence, and Satan has no further pretext to make demands, so God no longer needs to be conceived by the Holy Spirit to be incarnated. Since God is inherently holy and innocent, God in this incarnation is no longer the Jesus of the Age of Grace. However, He is still being incarnated for the sake of God the Father’s will and for the sake of bringing God the Father’s wishes to completion. Surely this is not an unreasonable way of explaining things? Must God’s incarnation conform to a given set of rules?
Many people look in the Bible for evidence, hoping to find a prophecy of God’s incarnation. How can man, with his confused and disjointed thoughts, know that God long ago stopped “working” in the Bible and has “leapt” beyond its bounds to take on, with zest and appetite, the work that He had long planned out but never told man about? People are too lacking in sense. After the merest taste of God’s disposition, they mount a platform and sit in a high-class “wheelchair” in complete nonchalance to inspect God’s work, even going so far as to start educating God with bombastic and rambling talk about everything under the sun. Many an “old man,” wearing reading glasses and stroking his beard, opens up the yellowed pages of the “old almanac” (Bible) that he has been reading for a lifetime. With muttered words and eyes that seem to flash with spirit, he turns now to the Book of Revelation, now to the Book of Daniel, and now to the Book of Isaiah which is so well known to everyone. Staring at a page packed dense with tiny words, he reads in silence, his brain ceaselessly turning over. Suddenly the hand stroking the beard stops and begins tugging at it. Now and then one hears the sound of beard hairs being torn. Such unusual behavior takes one aback. “Why use such force? What is he so mad about?” Looking once again at the old man, we see that his brows are now bristling. The hairs of the silvered brows have descended, like goose feathers, precisely two centimeters from this old man’s eyelids, as if by chance and yet so perfectly, as the old man keeps his eyes glued to the pages that look as if they are mildewed. After going back over the same pages a number of times, he cannot help but jump to his feet and begins chattering as if making small-talk with someone, though the gleam emanating from his eyes has not left the almanac. Suddenly he covers up the present page and turns to “another world.” His movements are so hurried and frightening, almost taking people by surprise. Presently, the mouse that had come out of its hole and, during his silence, was just starting to feel relaxed enough to move about freely, becomes so alarmed by his unexpected movements that it runs swiftly back into the hole and disappears into it like a puff of smoke, never to appear again. And now the old man’s left hand resumes its temporarily suspended motion of stroking his beard, up and down, up and down. He moves away from his seat, leaving the book on the desk. The wind comes in through the crack in the door and the open window, mercilessly blowing the book shut, and then open again. There is an inexpressible forlornness about the scene, and except for the sound of the book’s pages being rustled by the wind, all creation seems to have fallen silent. He, with hands clasped behind his back, paces back and forth across the room, now stopping, now starting, shaking his head from time to time, and in his mouth he seems to be repeating the words, “Oh! God! Would You really do that?” From time to time he also says, with a nod, “O God! Who can fathom Your work? Is it not hard to search for Your footprints? I believe You do not do things to make trouble without a good reason.” Presently, the old man knits his brows tightly and squeezes his eyes shut, showing a look of embarrassment, and also an exceedingly pained expression, as if he is about to make a slow and deliberate calculation. Poor old man! To have lived all his life and then “unfortunately” come upon this matter so late in the day. What can be done about it? I too am at a loss and powerless to do anything. Who made his old almanac grow yellow with age? Who made his beard and brows all cover, unrelentingly, like white snow, the different parts of his face? It is as if his hairs in his beard represent his seniority. Yet who knew man could become foolish to such a degree that he would go looking for the presence of God in an old almanac? How many sheets of paper can an old almanac have? Can it really record with complete accuracy all of God’s deeds? Who dares to guarantee that? Yet man actually thinks to seek God’s appearance and to meet God’s will by means of parsing words and splitting hairs, hoping thereby to enter into life. Is trying to enter life this way as easy as it sounds? Is this not false reasoning of the most absurdly preposterous kind? Do you not find this laughable?
1. “Equivocal” indicates that people do not have clear insight into God’s work.
2. “Is of minuscule power and must exercise great caution” indicates that the difficulties of the flesh are too many, and the work done too limited.
3. “Supreme renown” is said mockingly. It refers to how many experts in religious fallacies worship the “old almanac” as God.
4. “Small-talk” is a metaphor for the ugly face of people when they research into the work of God.
5. “Hurried” refers to the eager, hasty movements of the “old man” as he refers to the Bible.
6. “Parsing words and splitting hairs” is used to mock the experts in fallacies, who split hairs over the words but do not seek the truth or know the work of the Holy Spirit.