In the last days, disasters occur frequently. The prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically been fulfilled. How can we welcome the Lord’s return before the great disasters? Read to get the answers.
God’s Word “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself (III)”
God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself (III)
These several fellowships have touched everyone greatly. Not until now have people truly felt God’s real existence and felt that God is really very near to man. Although people have believed in God for many years, they have never truly known about God’s mind and God’s thoughts as they do now, nor have they ever truly experienced God’s practical deeds as they do now. Whether in the aspect of knowledge or in the aspect of practice, most people have gained something new and got some heightened knowledge, realizing the errors in their former pursuit, realizing that their experience is too shallow and they are not after God’s heart in many aspects, and realizing that what they lack the most is the knowledge of God’s disposition. Such knowledge of theirs is only some perceptual knowledge. To upgrade it to rational knowledge, people have to deepen and improve it gradually in their experience. Before people truly know God, subjectively their heart believes in God’s existence. However, as to such specific issues as what kind of God God is, what God’s will is, what God’s disposition is like, what God’s attitude toward mankind is like, and so on, no one truly knows them. Thus their belief in God does not count for much, and it always falls short of purity or perfection. Even if you are face to face with God’s word or you have ever felt that you were face to face with God in your experience, it still cannot be said that you completely know God. Because you do not know God’s mind and do not know what God loves, what God hates, for what God is angry, or for what God is joyful, you do not have a true knowledge of God, and your belief is built upon vagueness, imagination, and subjective will and is still at a distance from the true belief and true following. Through My interpretation of these Bible stories, these cases, people can know God’s heart, know what God was thinking when doing each step of work and why He worked that way, know what was God’s original intention in doing it at that time and what His plan was, and know how God realized His thoughts and how He arranged and carried out His plan. Through these stories, we will know in a detailed and specific way God’s concrete will and His every true thought as well as His attitudes toward mankind in different periods and different ages during His six-thousand-year management work. When knowing what God was thinking in His heart, what God’s attitude was, and what disposition He expressed when He faced each thing, everyone can better sense God’s real existence and better feel God’s practicalness and realness. My purpose in telling these stories is not to let people learn about the history of the Bible or to let people familiarize the Bible verses and the biblical figures, much less to let people learn about some backgrounds of God’s working in the Age of Law, but to let people know about God’s will, God’s disposition, and God’s bits and pieces, so that they will have a more real and accurate understanding and knowledge of God and thus their heart will be open to God and draw near to God bit by bit, and they can also further understand God, know God’s disposition, know God’s substance, and know the true God Himself.
The knowledge of God’s disposition and the knowledge of what God has and is can have a positive effect on people and help them have a greater and have a true obedience to and a true fear of God, so that they will not follow blindly or worship blindly. What God wants are not muddle-heads or crowd-followers, but a group of people who clearly know God’s disposition in their heart and can testify God and a group of people who will never leave or forsake God, because of God’s loveliness, what God has and is, and God’s righteous disposition. As a follower of God, if in your heart you are still very unclear, uncertain, and muddled about God’s real existence, God’s disposition, what God has and is, and God’s plan of saving mankind, then your belief cannot be approved by God. God does not like such people to follow Him and does not like such people to come before Him. Because they do not know God, they cannot give their heart to God, and their heart is closed to God. So their belief in God is full of mixtures, and their following God can only be said to be blind. Only if people have a true understanding and knowledge of God can they have a true belief and following. And at the same time, they will have a true obedience to and a true fear of God. Then, their heart will be given to God and be open to God. This is what God wants, because what they do and what they think can withstand God’s test and be a testimony for God. No matter whether I fellowship about the subject concerning God’s disposition or the subject concerning what God has and is or fellowship about the subject concerning God’s will and God’s mind and thoughts behind His doing each thing, and no matter from which aspect or which angle I fellowship about them, My purpose is to let people be more certain about God’s real existence, more truly know and feel God’s love for mankind, and more truly know and feel God’s concern for mankind and His sincerity in managing and saving man.
Today let us first make a summary about God’s mind and thoughts and God’s every act and move since the creation of mankind, and glance through what works God did from the creation of the world till the formal beginning of the Age of Grace, so as to find what mind and thoughts of God are unknown to man. By this, we may organize the order of God’s management plan and thoroughly know about the background, the origin, and the course of development of God’s management work and thoroughly know about the results God desires to achieve in His management work, that is, the kernel and purpose of God’s management work. To know about these, we have to go back to that distant and soundless age when there was no mankind. …
When God got up from His bed, He had the first thought: to create a living being, a living man, who will live with Him and be His companion, accompanying Him at His side; such a living being can listen to His speaking and listen to His pouring out and can also talk with Him. So God for the first time personally picked up a handful of dust and created with His own hands the first living being in His mind. And then He for the first time gave such a living creature a name—Adam. When He had such a living man, what was God’s heart like? He for the first time felt the joy of having a dear one and a companion, for the first time felt the responsibility of being a father, and for the first time felt a sense of concern. It was this living man who brought God pleasure and joy. He made God feel comfort for the first time. That was the first thing God did with His own hands, instead of by His thought, much less by His word. When such a living creature, a living man, stood before God, and when such a man who had bones and flesh and had form and image and who could talk with God stood before God, God felt for the first time the joy He never had before, and He truly felt His responsibility. His heart was concerned for such a living creature, while at the same time He was moved and warmed by this living being’s every act and move. Moreover, when such a living creature stood before God, God for the first time had the thought of gaining more men like him. This was a series of things that happened since God had the first thought. To God, this series of things were all for the first time. However, when He did the series of things for the first time, no matter whether He felt joy over them, felt responsibility, or had concern for man, there was no one to share it with Him. From that moment on, God for the first time truly felt the loneliness and sorrow that He never had before. This was because He felt that His love and His concern as well as His will for man could not be accepted and understood by man. Therefore, He still felt sorrow and distress in His heart. Although He did a series of things for man, man did not know or understand. In His happiness, the joy and comfort man brought to Him very soon made Him feel for the first time the sorrow and loneliness He had never felt before. This was God’s feeling and God’s mind at that time. During the course of God’s doing this series of things, His heart turned from joyful to sorrowful and from sorrowful to distressed, mixed with anxiety. He just wanted to speed up His pace to more quickly make such a man, such a mankind, know His heart and understand His will as soon as possible and then be His follower and be a man of one heart and one mind with Him, and no longer be one who only heard Him speak but had no response or who did not know how to cooperate with Him when He did things, much less be a mankind who remained indifferent when facing God’s requirements. The whole series of things God did at the very beginning was very meaningful and valuable to God’s management plan and to the mankind of today.
After God created all things and mankind, He did not stop His footsteps. He was eager to carry out His management and also eager to gain from among men the ones He loved.
Then, not long after God created mankind came the destruction of the world by the flood, which we see in the Bible. In the record of the destruction of the world by the flood, Noah was mentioned. It can be said that Noah was the first man called by God to cooperate with Him in accomplishing a work of His. Of course, that was the first time God called a man to do a thing on earth as He commanded. After Noah built the ark, God for the first time destroyed the world by the flood. When God destroyed the world by the flood, it was the first time God, after creating mankind, extremely loathed them. Thus, He for the first time made up His mind in bitterness to destroy such a mankind by the flood. After destroying the world by the flood, God for the first time established a covenant with mankind, saying that He would never destroy the world by a flood again. And this covenant was made with the rainbow as its token. Since it was the first covenant God made with mankind, the rainbow was the first token of God’s establishing a covenant with man. There is a physical object existing for it. This physical object is the rainbow. It is the existence of this rainbow that causes God to often feel the pain of losing the last mankind, and it is also the existence of this rainbow that constantly reminds God of the thing which happened among the last mankind. … God did not want to slow His steps, and He was eager to go on with the next step of His management. After that, God chose Abraham to be the first man through whom to do His work in the whole land of Israel, and he was the first man God chose. God decided to begin His work of saving mankind on this man and to carry out His work among the descendants of this man. That was what God did on Abraham, which we see in the Bible. Following that, God for the first time chose Israel and carried out His work of the Age of Law among the chosen people of Israel. And among the Israelites, God for the first time stipulated in plain terms and specified the decrees and ordinances man should keep, and for the first time prescribed in a detailed and standardized way how people should offer sacrifices, how they should live, what they should do, what they should not do, or what festivals and days or principles of doing things they should observe. That was the first time God made the decrees and principles of living for mankind in such a specific and standardized way.
Once “it was the first time” or “for the first time” is mentioned, it means that God had never done such works before. The works were unprecedented, and even though God had created mankind before and even though God had created various kinds of creatures and living things before, God had never done such works. All these works have to do with the work of God’s managing man, and they are works related to man and related to God’s saving mankind and managing mankind. After Abraham, God for the first time chose Job to be the one who under the law could fear God and shun evil and stand testimony even in Satan’s temptations. That was the first time God allowed Satan to tempt a man, and the first time God made a wager with Satan and finally God for the first time gained a man who could stand testimony for God and bear testimony for God before Satan and put Satan to utter shame. He was the first man God gained after the creation of mankind who could testify God. After God gained such a man, God’s heart was more eager to continue His management, to do the next step of work He intended to do, and to prepare the people and place for the next step of His work.
After we have fellowshipped these, what do you truly know about God’s will? God considers the thing of managing mankind and saving mankind this time as more important than anything else. God did those things not just by His thought or by His word, much less did He do them casually. Rather, He has been doing all the things with His will in a planned, purposeful, and standardized way. It can be seen that the work of God’s saving mankind this time is of so great significance to God and to man. No matter how difficult this work is, no matter what great hindrances there are in doing this work, and no matter how weak mankind is and how disobedient mankind is, they are nothing difficult to God. God has been busying Himself and has been spending His painstaking effort and price, managing the work He aims to do, arranging everything, and ruling over all the men He aims to work and all the works He aims to do. All this is unprecedented. God for the first time carries out a great project in such ways and at so much price to manage mankind and save mankind. While doing all the works, He expresses and releases to mankind His painstaking care and price, what He has and is, His wisdom and almightiness, and His disposition of various aspects bit by bit without any reserve. The expressions and release in these ways are also unprecedented. So, in the entire universe, except for the men God aims to manage and save, no created being has ever been so close to God, and no created being has so intimate a relationship with God. In God’s heart, the mankind He aims to manage and save is most important, and He considers such a mankind to be more important than anything else. Although He has paid a lot of price for such a mankind and although He has been constantly hurt and rebelled against by such a mankind, He has no complaint or regret and never leaves or forsakes man, but keeps doing His work without stopping, for He knows that one day sooner or later man will be awoken by the calling of His word, will be moved by His word, and will recognize that He is the Creator, thereby returning to Him. …
After hearing these words today, you may feel that all this God does is very normal. All along man seems to have felt some of God’s will for mankind in God’s word and God’s work, but man’s feeling or some of his knowledge is always at some distance from what God thinks in His heart. So I think it is necessary to fellowship with everyone why God created mankind at that time and against what background God wanted to gain the mankind He expects. It is very necessary to tell all these to everyone, so that everyone can be clear about them and know them in his heart. God’s every idea and thought and His work in every phase and every period are related to His entire management work, very closely related, so if you know about God’s ideas and thoughts and God’s will in every step of work, it means that you know the origin of the work of God’s management plan. On this basis, you will have a deeper knowledge of God. Although all the things God did at the beginning of the creation of the world, which I mentioned above, are only some “messages” to man, and they seem to have nothing to do with man’s pursuit of the truth, yet when you experience to a certain day, you will think that these things I say are not so simple as to be one or two messages only or to be some mysteries only. When you grow in life, when you have some place for God in your heart, or when you have a clearer and deeper knowledge of God’s will, you will truly feel the importance and necessity of My speaking these words today. No matter to what extent you can understand now, it is necessary for you to know and understand these things. Whether God does things and works with His mind or with His own hands, for the first time or for the last time, He has His plan for it, and there are His purposes and His thoughts in it. These thoughts and purposes represent God’s disposition and also express what God has and is, and such disposition of God and what God has and is are what everyone must know. After knowing these, men will gradually understand why God has done so and why God has said so, so that they will have more faith to follow God and to pursue the truth and pursue the transformation of their disposition. Therefore, man’s knowledge of God and man’s faith in God, these two are inseparable.
Although what man hears or knows is God’s disposition and is what God has and is, what man gains is the life from God. Once such a life is wrought into you, you will have more and more fear of God, which is the result produced naturally. If you do not want to understand or know about God’s disposition and God’s substance, or you do not even want to ponder over or pay attention to these things, then I can say for sure that pursuing and believing in God in such a way as you do now, you can never satisfy God’s heart’s desire or be approved by God, much less be truly saved. This is the ultimate consequence. If man does not know God or understand God’s disposition, his heart will not truly be open to God. When man knows God, he will have the interest and faith to consider God’s heart and savor God’s heart. While you consider and savor God’s heart, step by step and little by little your heart will be open to God. When your heart is open to God, you will feel how shameful and contemptible your bargain with God, your demand on God, or your extravagant desires are. When your heart is truly open to God, you will see what a gigantic world God’s heart is, and meanwhile you will enter into a realm that you have never experienced. In this realm, there is no cheat, no craftiness, no darkness, and no evil, but only sincerity and faithfulness, light and uprightness, and righteousness and kindness. He is full of love and care, and full of mercy and tolerance; He makes you feel the happiness and joy of living. This is what God will reveal to you when your heart is open to God. This gigantic world is full of God’s wisdom, full of God’s almightiness, filled with God’s love, and filled with God’s authority. There you will see what God has and is in every aspect, and see for what God is pleased, for what God is worried, for what God is sorrowful, for what God gets angry…. These are what everyone can see who can open his heart and let God come in. Only when your heart is open to God can God enter into your heart; only when God enters into your heart can you see what God has and is and see God’s will for you. At that time, you will find that God’s everything is so precious and what God has and is is so worthy to be treasured by man, and by comparison, the people, matters, and things around you, even your relatives, your spouse, and the things you love, are so unworthy of being mentioned and are so insignificant and low to you. You will feel that no material thing can attract you anymore or cause you to pay any price for it anymore. You will see God’s loftiness and God’s supremacy in God’s humbleness, and even more you will see God’s infinite wisdom, see God’s tolerance, and see God’s patience, forbearance, and consideration for you in a thing done by God which you regarded as very small, and thus you will have adoration for God. When that day comes, you will feel that men live in so dirty a world, that both the people around you and the things going on around you, even the people you love, their love to you, and their so-called “protection” for you or concern for you, are unworthy of being mentioned, and that only God is your most beloved and is your priceless treasure. I believe on that day some people will say: God’s love is so great, God’s substance is so holy, God has no craftiness, no evil, no jealousy, and no strife, but only righteousness and only truthfulness, and all that God has and is is what man should thirst for and is what man should pursue and long for. On what basis can people achieve these? On the basis of man’s knowing God’s disposition and God’s substance. So, to know God’s disposition and know what God has and is is the lesson everyone has to learn in his whole life and is the goal everyone who pursues the transformation of his disposition and the knowledge of God has to pursue in his whole life.
Just now we talked about the series of works God did for the first time, and all these things have to do with God’s management plan and have to do with God’s will and also have to do with God’s own disposition and God’s substance. To know more of what God has and is, we cannot just remain in the Old Testament, in the Age of Law, but should go forward with the pace of God’s working. Then, as God ended the Age of Law and began the Age of Grace, our footsteps also come to the Age of Grace—an age full of grace and full of redemption. In that age, God again for the first time did a very important thing. This work of the new age was a new start both to God and to mankind. This new start was another new work God did for the first time. This new work was a thing God did unprecedentedly which was unexpected to man and unexpected to all things. This thing is what is known to all people of today: God for the first time became a member of mankind and for the first time began His new work with the image of a man and with the identity of a man. This new work signified that He had ended the work of the Age of Law and signified that God would no longer do or speak anything under the law or speak or do anything in the way of the law or with the principles and decrees of the law, that is, all the works based on the law stopped forever and would no longer go on. As God aimed to do a new work, a new thing, and God’s plan had a new start, God must lead men into the next age.
Whether this thing was good news or bad news to a person depended on what his substance was. It can be said that to some people, it was not good news but bad news, because when God did the new work, those who only kept laws and decrees and only kept regulations but did not fear God were liable to condemn God’s new work by His old work. To these people, it was bad news. However, to everyone who was simple and open and everyone who was sincere toward God and who was willing to accept God’s salvation, God’s first incarnation was extremely good news. This is because since there was mankind, God for the first time lived among men and worked among men in the form of the Son of man who was born of man and with the image of the Son of man, instead of appearing among men and living among men in the form of the Spirit. This first time broke man’s notion and went beyond everyone’s imagination, and at the same time brought “benefits” to all the followers of God. God not only ended the old age, but at the same time He also ended His old way of working and “style” of working. He no longer let His messengers convey His will for Him and no longer “hid” in the clouds and appeared to men and spoke to men from on high in the way of “thundering,” but He “suddenly changed His usual act”—carrying out His work of that age in a way unexpected to men and in a way men can hardly understand or accept—incarnation—becoming a Son of man. This act of God caught mankind unprepared and also embarrassed mankind, for what God did was another new work God had never done. Today let us have a look at what new works God did in the new age, and what aspects of God’s disposition and what aspects of what God has and is we can know from these new works.
The following are the words recorded in the New Testament.
1. (Mt 12:1) At that time Jesus went on the through the corn; and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
2. (Mt 12:6-8) But I say to you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
Let us first look at the passage, “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.”
Why is this passage selected? What does it have to do with God’s disposition? From this passage we first know that the day was the Sabbath day. However, the Lord Jesus went out on the Sabbath day, and He went through the corn with His disciples; what was more “rebellious” was that they even “began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.” In the Age of Law, the law of Jehovah God specified that on the Sabbath day people could not go outside as they pleased or do activities as they pleased. On the Sabbath day there were many things they could not do. That act of the Lord Jesus puzzled the people who had lived under the law for long, and it even incurred criticisms. As to how people were puzzled and how they criticized what Jesus did, we will not talk about them for the time being. Let us first talk about why the Lord Jesus chose to do that on the Sabbath day and what He wanted to tell the people under the law through that. This is the connection between this passage and God’s disposition, which I will talk about.
The Lord Jesus came, and He told mankind by His practical act: God had come out of the Age of Law and begun a new work; this new work no longer required people to keep the Sabbath day; and “coming out of the sabbath day” was only a foretaste of God’s new work, and the real great work would go on. When the Lord Jesus began to work, He already went out of the “restriction” of the Age of Law and broke the decrees and principles specified in the Age of Law. Anything related to the law did not have any trace in Him, and He discarded all of them and no longer kept them or required people to keep them. So, here you see that on the Sabbath day the Lord Jesus went through the corn, and the Lord did not have rest but worked outside, without a rest. His such an act countered man’s notions, telling people that He no longer lived under the law and He went out of the Sabbath day and appeared before people and appeared among people with a completely new image and in a new way of working. His such an act told people that He brought a new work, which began with going out of the law and out of the Sabbath day. When God did a new work, He would no longer cherish the old one or care about the decrees of the Age of Law, nor would He be affected by the work done in the former age; rather He worked on the Sabbath day all the same, and when His disciples were hungry, they could pluck the ears of corn and eat. All these were very normal in God’s eyes. With God, many works and words He aims to do and speak can have a new start. When He makes a new start, the old work He did before will no longer be mentioned or go on. This is because God works by His principles. When He wants to do a new work, that is, when He wants to bring people into the new stage of work, and when His work enters into a higher stage, if men continue to practice and keep the old sayings or decrees, God will not remember or approve it, because He has brought a new work and entered into a new working phase. When He brings a new work, He will appear to all people with a completely new image and in a completely new position and way, so that people can see His disposition and what He has and is in other different aspects. This is one of the purposes of His doing a new work. God does not hold on to old things or walk the old path. When He works and speaks, He does not, as man imagines, keep this or that prohibition. With God, everything is released and free, without any prohibition or restriction. What He brings to man are all freedom and release. He is a living God, and He is a God who exists truly and practically; He is not a puppet or a clay sculpture, and He is completely different from the idols enshrined and worshiped by men. He is fresh and living, and His work and word bring man solely life and light and freedom and release. Because He has the truth, the life, and the way, He does all the work He aims to do without any restriction. No matter what men say and no matter how mankind looks at His new work or comments on His new work, He will do the work He aims to do without any hesitation. He will not mind anyone’s notions or anyone’s critical views about His work and word, even man’s extreme opposition and resistance against His new work. No one among created beings should expect that he can measure what God does, circumscribe what God does, or slander, disturb, or wreck God’s work by man’s doctrines, man’s imaginations, man’s knowledge, or man’s moral concepts. When God does things or works, He is free from any prohibition, and He is not restricted by any person, matter, or thing and is immune to disturbance from any hostile force. As far as His new work is concerned, He is the King triumphing forever, and all the hostile forces and various kinds of human evil sayings and fallacies are trampled under His footstool. No matter which stage of new work He does, His work will surely be carried out among men, will surely be spread among men, and will surely be carried out without hindrance and crowned with success in the entire universe. This is God’s almightiness and wisdom and also God’s authority and power. So, the Lord Jesus could go out to work on the Sabbath day in an open way, for in His heart there was not any regulation or any knowledge and doctrine from man. What He had was God’s new work and God’s way, and whatever work He did was the way that could set man free and released, could let man live in the light, and could make man alive. However, those who worshiped idols and worshiped false gods lived in Satan’s bondage every day and were bound by various kinds of regulations and rules. They kept this prohibition today and that tomorrow, living without any freedom. They were like prisoners locked in cangues and chains, without any happiness. What does “prohibition” represent? It represents restriction, bondage, and evil! Once a man worships an idol, he worships a false god and an evil spirit, and prohibitions follow with that: This cannot be eaten, and that cannot be eaten; this day he cannot go out, next day he cannot cook, and the following day he cannot move; even the day for wedding or funeral has to be chosen, and even the day for giving birth. What are these? These are prohibitions, are bondages to man, and are shackles with which Satan and evil spirits control man and restrict man’s spirit and body. With God, are there these prohibitions? When God’s holiness is mentioned, you should first think of this: With God, there is not any prohibition. God works and speaks by principles but without any prohibition, because God Himself is the truth, the way, and the life.
Look at the following verses: (Mt 12:6-8) “But I say to you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.” What does the “temple” here mean? In common language, the “temple” means a magnificent and grand building. In the Age of Law, the “temple” was the place for the priests to worship God. Who is the “one” in the word “That in this place is one greater than the temple” spoken by the Lord Jesus? Obviously, the “one” is the incarnate Lord Jesus, because only the Lord Jesus was greater than the temple. What did this word tell people? It told people that they should come out of the temple, because God had come out of the temple and no longer worked there. So, they should seek God’s footsteps outside the temple and keep up with the pace of God’s new work. The background against which the Lord this word was that people under the law had taken the temple as something greater than God. That is, what people worshiped was the place of temple, not God. So, the Lord Jesus reminded that people should not worship the idol but worship God, because God is supreme. Therefore, He said: “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” It can be seen that in the eyes of the Lord Jesus, most people under the law no longer worshiped Jehovah, but just went through the process of sacrifice. Such a process was condemned as “worshiping the idol” by the Lord Jesus. These people who worshiped the idol considered the temple to be greater and more supreme than God. They only had the temple but not God in their hearts. To them, without the temple they lost the place to dwell, and without the temple they had no place to worship and could not practice offering sacrifices. The so-called “place to dwell” was a place where they carried the banner of worshiping Jehovah God and thus had the permission to stay in the temple and did their own things. The so-called “practicing offering sacrifices” meant that they could take doing service as a cover and do their own unpresentable things in the temple. This was the reason why people at that time considered the temple to be greater than God. Because they took the temple as a cover and took offering sacrifices as a camouflage to cheat man and cheat God, the Lord Jesus spoke such words to warn them. Now, these words are also effective and well-directed. Although people of today and the people of the Age of Law experienced God’s different works, the substance of their nature is the same. Under the background of today’s work, people still can do the things of a similar nature to “the temple being greater than God.” For example, people take performing duty as their occupation, take testifying God and fighting against the great red dragon as the political movement of safeguarding human rights and fighting for democracy and freedom, and take the duty with some technology content as their own career, but observe “fearing God and shunning evil” as a religious doctrine, and so on. Aren’t these performances of people exactly of the same nature as “the temple being greater than God”? It is only that people of two thousand years ago did their own management in the physical temple, but people of today do their own management in the intangible temple. Those who treasure regulations consider regulations to be greater than God, those who like position consider position to be greater than God, those who love their career consider their career to be greater than God, and so on. Considering people’s various performances, I have to say, “People extol God as the Most High with their mouths, but in their eyes everything is greater than God.” This is because once people find the opportunity to exert their talents on the way of following God, once they have the opportunity to do their own management and career, they utterly keep away from God and throw themselves into the career they love, and have long cast God’s commission and God’s will to the winds. Considering these states of people, are they any different from those who did their own various managements two thousand years ago?
Next, let us look at the last word in this passage of scripture, “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” Does this word have its practical aspect? Can you see the practical aspect of this word? Every word of God is expressed from His heart. Why did He speak this word? How do you understand it? Now you may be able to understand its meaning. But at that time, not many people could understand it, because people of that time had just come out of the Age of Law. To them, it was a very difficult thing to come out of the Sabbath day, much less to understand what the true Sabbath day was.
The word “the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” tells people that God’s everything is non-material. Although God can supply all your material needs, when your material needs are satisfied, can the satisfaction these materials bring you substitute for your pursuit of the truth? Obviously, it can’t! God’s disposition and what God has and is we fellowship about are all the contents of the truth, and you cannot measure them by any material of great value, nor can you measure their value by money, because they are not material, and they are supplying what everyone needs in his heart. To everyone, the value of these non-material truths should surpass the value of anything you consider good. Can it be said so? You need to savor this word slowly. The important point I speak about is that what God has and is and God’s everything are most important to everyone, and they cannot be substituted by any material thing. Let Me give you an illustration: When you are hungry, you need to take some food. The food can either be good or bad; as long as you fill yourself up, the unpleasant feeling of hunger in your stomach is gone and disappears, and you can quiet down while sitting there and your body can be in rest. You can solve the hunger in your stomach with food. However, when you, in following God, feel that your knowledge of God is nil, how can you solve the feeling of emptiness in your heart? Can you solve it with food? Or when you follow God but do not understand God’s will, what can you take to fill this hunger in your heart? In the course of your experiencing God’s salvation and when you pursue the transformation of your disposition, if you do not understand God’s will, do not understand what the truth is, and do not know about God’s disposition, you feel very worried, don’t you? You feel very thirsty in your heart, don’t you? These feelings of yours cause you to have no rest in your heart, right? What can you take to fill this hunger in your heart? Do you have any way to solve it? Some go shopping, some go to several good friends to have a chat, some go to have a good sleep, and some spend more time reading God’s word or exert more effort and strength in performing duty. Can these solve your practical difficulties? You all have much experience of these practices. When you feel you cannot make it as you wish and when you feel very thirsty for God’s enlightenment so that you can understand the reality of the truth and understand God’s will, what do you need the most? What you need is not a good meal or some considerate words, much less that your flesh receives temporary ease and satisfaction, but that God can directly and clearly tell you what to do and how to do it and let you understand clearly what the truth is. When you understand these, even bits of them, doesn’t your heart feel more satisfied than after having a good meal? When your heart is satisfied, doesn’t your heart or your whole being have a true rest? After I draw an analogy and analyze this thing like this, have you understood now why I let you look at the word “the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day”? The meaning of this word is that what is from God and what God has and is and God’s everything are greater than anything else, including the thing or the person you have regarded as most dear to you. In other words, if one cannot gain the words from God’s mouth or understand God’s will, he cannot possibly have a rest. In your future experience, you will understand why I let you look at this passage today, which is very important. Everything God does is the truth and the life. To man, the “truth” is an indispensable thing in his life and is something he cannot leave at any time, and it can be said to be the greatest thing. Although your eyes cannot see it and your hands cannot touch it, its importance to you cannot be neglected, and it is the only thing that can bring rest to your heart.
When receiving the truth, do you know how to relate it to your state? In real life, you should first think what truths the people, matters, and things you experience involve, and only in these truths can you find God’s will and relate them with God’s will. If you directly go to seek God’s will without knowing what truths the things coming upon you involve, such practice is quite blind, and no result will be achieved. To seek the truth and understand God’s will, you should first see of what kind the thing coming upon you is and what truths it involves. In God’s word you should find the truths corresponding to your experience, and then find the ways for you to practice in them. In this way, you will indirectly understand God’s will. Seeking the truth and practicing the truth are not to mechanically apply to a regulation or observe a formula. The truth is not formulaic, nor is it a fixed law. It is not a dead thing, but it is life, a living thing, and is the law a created being must obey when living and the law indispensable to man’s existence. You need to understand this more in your experience. No matter to what degree you have experienced, you cannot do without God’s word and cannot do without the truth. And God’s disposition which you understand and what God has and is which you know are all expressed in God’s word, and they have an inseparable relation with the truth. God’s disposition and what God has and is in themselves are the truth; it is only that the truth is a real manifestation of the expression of God’s disposition and what God has and is. It has specified what God has and is in explicit terms, and it more plainly tells you what God likes and what God dislikes, what God wants you to do and what God forbids you to do, and what kind of person God hates and what kind of person God is pleased with. Behind the truths God expresses, people see God’s pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy, and see God’s substance; these are the expression of God’s disposition. Besides knowing what God has and is and knowing about God’s disposition in God’s word, one has to do it mainly in his practical experience. If one is divorced from the real life, it is impossible for him to know God. Even if some people gain some knowledge in God’s word, it is limited to doctrines and letters and is still at distance from the true God Himself.
All that we fellowship about now are within the scope of the stories recorded in the Bible. Through these stories and through dissecting these things that happened, we can know God’s disposition and what God has and is, which God had expressed. This will enable us to know various aspects of God in a wider range, in a more profound way, in more respects, and from manifold angles. Then, to know various aspects of God, can we do it only through these stories? No! This is because the words God speaks and the works He does in the Age of Kingdom can better enable people to know God’s disposition and know it more comprehensively. It is only that I want to make it easier for people to know God’s disposition and know about what God has and is through some well-known cases and stories recorded in the Bible. If I fellowshipped word by word about the words of judgment and chastisement and the truths God has expressed at the present time for you to know God, you would feel it too dull and too boring, and some people would even feel that God’s words seem to be formulaic. When I list out these stories in the Bible for people to know God’s disposition, they will not feel it boring and dull. It can be said that in the course of My telling these things, I tell people in human language the details of what God thought in His heart at that time, and also tell people God’s heart, that is, God’s feeling, or God’s mind and thoughts at that time. The purpose of My telling them is for people to understand and feel that what God has and is is not a formula, a legend, or something people cannot see or touch, but something that exists really and practically, which man can feel and understand. This is the ultimate purpose. It can be said that people born in this age are blessed. There are the Bible stories as reference for them to have a more extensive knowledge of the works God has done. Through the works God has done, they can see God’s dispositions, and through the dispositions God has expressed, they can know God’s will for mankind, and know what the specific manifestations of God’s holiness are, and what the specific manifestations of God’s concern for man are, so that they can have a more specific and profound knowledge of God’s disposition. I believe you all have felt it, haven’t you?
In the Age of Grace, within the scope of the works done by the Lord Jesus, you will see what God has and is in another aspect, which was expressed through the flesh and could be seen and understood by people through His humanity. In the Son of man, people saw the living out of God’s humanity in the flesh and also saw the expression of God’s divinity in the flesh. The expressions in these two aspects let people see a practical God and also gave them a different concept of God. However, from the creation of the world to the end of the Age of Law, that is, before the Age of Grace, what man saw, heard, or felt was only the aspect of God’s divinity, was what God did and spoke in a non-material world, and was something expressed by God’s real person invisible and untouchable to man. At many times, these things gave man a feeling that God was too great to approach. Most often the impression God gave man was that He suddenly appeared and suddenly disappeared. Even God’s each thought or idea was so mysterious and unfathomable and so incomprehensible to man that man could not reach it at all, much less ponder or understand it. To man, God’s everything was very distant, so distant that man could not see or touch it, and God seemed to be on the distant horizon or seemed to not exist at all. So, to understand each thought of God or understand any idea of God was impossible to men, and even more, far beyond their reach. Although in the Age of Law God did some specific works and at the same time He also expressed some specific words and expressed some specific dispositions, so that people gained some real knowledge of God which they could comprehend or see, yet after all these were what God has and is which God expressed in the non-material world, and what people understood and knew was still what God has and is in His divinity. What God has and is like that could not give people a specific concept, and thus their impression of God still remained within the scope of “the inapproachable spiritual body that suddenly appears and suddenly disappears.” Because God had not manifested Himself to man as a specific object or an image in the material world, man still could not define God with human language. In man’s mind and thought, he always wanted to define God with a standard in human language, materializing and humanizing God, such as, how tall God is, how big God is, what God looks like, and what God’s specific likes and specific character are. Actually, in God’s heart He knew that man had such thoughts; He was very clear about man’s needs, and of course, He also knew what He should do. So, God did the work of the Age of Grace in another way, which was both in humanity and in divinity. During the period the Lord Jesus worked, the God man saw had many manifestations of humanity, such as, He could dance, could attend a wedding banquet, could talk with and speak to people or talk about a thing. At the same time, the Lord Jesus also did many works that represented the divinity. Of course, these works were all the expressions and manifestations of God’s disposition. During that period, God’s divinity was realized in a normal flesh so that man could see and touch Him and no longer felt that God suddenly appeared and suddenly disappeared, unable to be approached. On the contrary, through the Son of man’s act and move and His words and works, man could ponder over God’s will or know God’s divinity. The incarnate Son of man expressed God’s divinity through His humanity and conveyed God’s will to man, and at the same time He manifested to man the invisible and untouchable God in the spiritual realm through expressing God’s will and disposition. What man saw was God Himself with form and image and with bones and flesh. So, the incarnate Son of man specified and humanized God’s own identity, position, image, and disposition, what He has and is, and so on. Although as far as God’s image was concerned, the Son of man’s appearance was limited in some way, yet the Son of man’s substance and what He has and is could completely represent God’s own identity and position, only the way of expression was different. Considering the Son of man’s humanity or divinity, we can undeniably say that He represented God’s own identity and position. It was only that during that period God worked in the way of the flesh, spoke in the position of the flesh, and faced mankind in the identity and position of the Son of man, so that man could have the opportunity to contact and experience God’s practical speaking and working among men, know God’s divinity, and God’s greatness in humbleness, and at the same time have an elementary knowledge and definition of God’s realness and practicalness. Although the work the Lord Jesus did and the way of His working and the position in which He spoke were different from those of God’s real person in the spiritual realm, His everything precisely represented God Himself whom man had never seen. This was undeniable! That is to say, no matter in what way God appeared, in which position He spoke, and in what image He faced man, God represented God Himself only, and He could not possibly represent anyone else and could not possibly represent any of the corrupt mankind. God Himself was God Himself. This was undeniable.
Next let us look at a parable the Lord Jesus told in the Age of Grace.
3. The Parable of the Lost Sheep
(Mt 18:12-14) “How think you? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, does he not leave the ninety and nine, and goes into the mountains, and seeks that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”
This is a parable. What feeling does this passage give you? In human language, the expression of parable is a figure of speech and is something within human knowledge. If God had spoken such words in the Age of Law, people would feel that these words did not match God’s identity. However, as this passage was expressed by the Son of man in the Age of Grace, people feel that they are very comfortable, very warm, and very considerate. God was incarnated, and He appeared in the image of a man. In humanity He used a very suitable parable to express His heart’s voice, which represented God’s own heart’s voice, represented the work God would do in that age, and also represented an attitude God had toward man in the Age of Grace. From this attitude God had toward man, it can be seen that God likened everyone to a sheep, and if a sheep got lost, He would spare no effort to look for it. This represented a principle by which God worked on man when He was incarnated that time. God used such a parable to describe His determination and attitude in His working at that time. This was an “advantage” God incarnate had: He could speak to man and express His heart’s desires with human knowledge and with words of humanity. He explained or “translated” the profound and incomprehensible words of divinity to man in words and ways of humanity, which would be advantageous to man’s understanding His will and knowing what He would do. In addition, He could also talk with people in the position of a man and talk with people in human language and in the ways people could understand, and He could even speak and work with human language and knowledge, so that people would feel that God is amiable and approachable and see God’s heart. What do you see here? Is there any prohibition in God’s speaking and doing things? In man’s view, God could not possibly speak what He wanted to speak and do the works He wanted to do and express His own will with human knowledge and human language or in a human way. This was just man’s wrong imagination. God used such a parable, and this parable made man feel God’s realness and God’s sincerity and see God’s attitude toward man during that time. This parable aroused the people from their dream who had lived under the law for a long time, and also it encouraged generation after generation of people who lived in the Age of Grace. Through reading this parable, people know God’s sincerity in saving man and also know man’s weight in God’s heart.
Next, look at the last word in this passage: Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. Was this word of the Lord Jesus spoken by Himself or by the Father in heaven? Outwardly, it was spoken by the Lord Jesus, but His will represented God’s own will, so He said, “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” The people of that time only acknowledged the Father in heaven as God and the man they saw before their eyes just as one sent by the Father in heaven, who could not represent the Father in heaven, so the Lord Jesus must add such a word, so that they would clearly feel God’s will for them and also feel the trueness and accuracy of this word. Although this was a simple word, it was very considerate, and it manifested the Lord Jesus’ humbleness and hiddenness. No matter whether God was incarnated or worked in the spiritual realm, He was most clear about man’s inner being, knew best what man needed, and also knew what man was worried about and for what man was puzzled. So He added such a word. This word clearly revealed a problem hidden in men: Men all half-believed in what the Son of man said; in other words, when the Lord Jesus spoke, He must add such a precondition, “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish,” so that He could achieve the results of His speaking, make men believe the accuracy of His word, and improve the trustworthiness of His word. Thus it can be seen that when God became an ordinary Son of man, man’s relationship with God was so embarrassing, and the Son of man’s circumstance was so embarrassed. And it can be seen that the Lord Jesus at that time had so little place among men. By speaking such a word, actually He was telling men, “You can just rest assured; what I say does not represent My own will, but the will of the God in your hearts.” Isn’t this word very ironic to man? Although when God was incarnated to do His work, He possessed many advantages God’s person did not possess, He had to endure the doubts and rejections from man and also man’s numbness and obtuseness. It can be said that the course of the Son of man’s working was the course of His tasting man’s rejection and was also the course of His tasting man’s competition with Him, much more the course of His working personally to win man’s trust and conquer man constantly with what He has and is and with His substance. More than being incarnated to wage an on-the-spot war with Satan, God became an ordinary man to wage a fight with those who followed Him. In such a fight, with His humbleness, what He has and is, and His love and wisdom, the Son of man accomplished His work, gained the men He wanted to gain, and also won the status and position He should have, and He “returned” to His throne.
Next, we will read the following two passages of scripture.
4. Forgive Seventy Times Seven
(Mt 18:21-22) Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
5. The Love of the Lord
(Mt 22:37-39) Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Of these two passages of scripture, one talks about forgiveness and the other talks about love. They put forward very clearly the contents of the work the Lord Jesus wanted to do in the Age of Grace.
When God was incarnated, He brought with Him a stage of work and brought the disposition to be expressed in that age and the specific items of the work. What the Son of man did in that period were all centered around the scope of the work God wanted to do in that age. He would do no more or less than that. Every word He said and every work He did had to do with that age. No matter whether He expressed them in a human way and with human language or with divine language, no matter in which way or position, His purpose was just for man to know what He would do, what His will was, and what His requirements for man were. He would use manifold ways and take different positions to make man realize, know, and understand His will and understand His work of saving man. Therefore, we see that in the Age of Grace more often the Lord Jesus used words of humanity to express the things He wanted to make clear, and more often He stood in the position of a common guide to talk with man, supply man’s needs, and grant man’s requests. Such a way of working could not be seen in the Age of Law before the Age of Grace. He got closer to man and more considerate of man, which could better achieve practical results in form and in manner. Here the parable of forgiving others “seventy times seven” well illustrates the point. The figure in this parable is for man to see from this word the Lord Jesus’ intention of telling this parable at that time. His purpose was so that man should forgive others not just once or twice, nor seven times, but seventy times seven. What was the concept of “seventy times seven” here? It was that man was required to take forgiving others as his responsibility and his obligatory course and observe it as the “way.” Although it was only a parable, it brought out the crucial point, and it helped man deeply understand the Lord Jesus’ will and from the word have the way he should practice and have the principle and standard for his practice. This parable gave man a clear understanding and an accurate concept that man should learn to forgive and be able to forgive others without condition and without limit on the number of times, and do it with the heart of sympathizing and forbearing with others. What was the Lord Jesus thinking when saying that word? Was He really thinking of seventy times seven? No. Is there a limit on the number of times God forgives man? Many people are very interested in the “number of times” mentioned here and want very much to know the origin of this number and its implied meaning. They want to know why the Lord Jesus spoke out such a number. They believe that this number must have some deeper implication. As a matter of fact, it is only a parable God spoke in humanity. If it is said to have any implied meaning or inner meaning, it cannot be separated from the Lord Jesus’ requirements for man. Before God was incarnated, many of His words man did not understand, because His words were from the full divinity. The angle and background of His speaking were invisible and unreachable to man and His words were expressed from the invisible spiritual realm, which man who lived in the flesh could not get access to. But after God was incarnated, He talked with man in the position of humanity, which came out of and went beyond the spiritual realm. He could express His divine disposition and will as well as His attitude by certain things that man could imagine in his notion or could see and contact in his life, or by the ways man could accept, the words man could understand, or the knowledge mankind grasped, so that man could understand God, know God, and comprehend and realize God’s will and God’s required standard in the scope and extent he could reach. This was the way and principle by which God did His work in humanity. Although the way and principle of God’s working in the flesh was achieved more often by or through humanity, it produced the result that could not be achieved by the divinity doing the work directly. The work God did in humanity was more specific, more real, and more targeted in content. It was more flexible in manner and exceeded the Age of Law in form.
The next is about loving the Lord and loving your neighbor as yourself. Were these words directly expressed in divinity? Obviously not! These words were all spoken in the humanity of the Son of man. Only man will say such words as these, “Love my neighbor as myself, and care for others as my own life.” Only man speaks in this way. God never speaks in this way, and at least in God’s divinity, there are no such words. This is because God does not need such a creed as “love my neighbor as myself” to standardize His love for mankind, for God’s love for man is the natural manifestation of what He has and is. When have you ever heard God say such a word as “I love mankind as Myself”? It is because love is in God’s substance and in what He has and is. His love for man and His way and attitude in treating man are the natural expressions and manifestations of His disposition. He does not need to make a conscious effort to do anything or follow a certain way or a moral norm so as to be able to love others as Himself; rather He naturally possesses such substance. What do you see here? When God does His work in humanity, many of His manners, many of His words, and many of the truths are expressed in human ways, while at the same time God’s disposition, what God has and is, and God’s will are also expressed for man to understand and know. What man understands and knows are exactly God’s substance and what God has and is, which represent God’s own original identity and position. That is to say, the incarnate Son of man expresses God’s own original disposition and God’s substance to the utmost in a most accurate way. The humanity of the Son of man is not the hindrance and obstacle to the association and communication between man and the God in heaven, but instead is the only channel and bridge to connect mankind with the Creator. At this point, don’t you feel that the nature and way of the work the Lord Jesus did in the Age of Grace are similar to those of this stage of work now in many aspects? In this stage of work, God also uses many words of humanity to express His disposition and uses much of everyday language or many words and ways of human knowledge to express His own will. Once God is incarnated, no matter whether He speaks in the position of humanity or in the position of divinity, many of His words or expressions are spoken in human language or in a human way. In other words, when God is incarnated, it is the best opportunity for you to see God’s almightiness and God’s wisdom and know all aspects of God’s practicalness. When God is incarnated, in His growth He knows, learns, and grasps in humanity some knowledge, common sense, and words or expressions from man. When the incarnate God equips Himself with these things from the created mankind, they become a tool by which He expresses His disposition or expresses divinity in the flesh, so that when God works among men in the position of a man and with human language, He can do the work more appropriately, truly, and accurately, easier for man to approach and understand, thereby achieving the working results He desires. Isn’t it more practical that God works in this way in the flesh? Isn’t this God’s wisdom? When God was incarnated and His flesh was adequate to undertake the work He aimed to do, it was the time God’s disposition and God’s work would be expressed practically. At that time, that is, when the Son of man could formally begin to perform His ministry, it meant that there would no longer be the “generation gap” between man and God, it meant that God was about to stop the work of messengers conveying messages for Him, and God Himself could personally express in the flesh all His words and works He aimed to express, and it also meant that the mankind God was saving became closer to God, meant that God’s management work entered a new realm, and meant that a brand new age was about to face the whole mankind.
All those who have read the Bible know that when the Lord Jesus was born, there happened many things. The biggest among them was that He was hunted by the king of devils and even all children under the age of two in the whole city were killed. It can be seen that what a great risk God took when He was incarnated and came among men, that what a great price God paid in order to accomplish His management of saving mankind, and that what a great expectation God had for His being incarnated to work among men. When God’s flesh was adequate to undertake the work among men, how did God’s heart feel? Man should know something about it, right? At least, God’s heart was happy, because His new work could be carried out among men. When the Lord Jesus was baptized and formally began to do His work and perform His ministry, God’s heart was extremely happy, because after having waited and prepared for so many years, God finally could put on a normal human flesh and begin to do His new work in the image of a man who had blood and flesh and who could be seen and touched by man. He finally could speak with man face to face and have a heart-to-heart talk with man face to face in the capacity of a man, and He finally could be face to face with man in human language and in a human way, could supply man or guide and help man in human language, could eat at the same table and live in the same space with man, and also could look at mankind, look at things, and look at everything in a human way and even with human eyes. These, to God, meant that His work in the flesh had succeeded in the first battle, or it could be said to have been crowned with success. That was certainly the happiest thing to God. From that moment, God felt for the first time a kind of comfort for His working among men. All this happened so practically and so naturally, and the comfort God felt was so real. This is because to mankind, whenever God accomplishes a stage of new work and whenever God feels gratified, it is the time mankind can come nearer to God and is also the time man comes closer to being saved; to God, it is the time His new work can be carried out and His management plan progresses forward, much more the time His will can come closer to complete accomplishment. It is fortunate and great to mankind that such an opportunity comes to them. To all those waiting for God’s salvation, it is extremely good news. When God does a stage of new work, He has a new start. When the stage of new work, the new start, is carried out and implemented among men, it is the time this stage of work is already settled and accomplished and God already sees the final result and achievement, and it is also the time God is satisfied with the result; of course God’s heart is happy. Because God’s eyes have already seen the men He wants to find and have already located and gained the men He wants to find, gaining a group of people on whom He can accomplish His work and with whom He is satisfied, therefore God’s heart is comforted, and He drops His sadness and His heart is happy. In other words, when God’s flesh can carry out the new work among men and begin to do the work He wants to do without any hindrance, and when He feels that all this is fulfilled, He has already seen the outcome, and He is satisfied with it and His heart is happy. In what way does God express His happiness? Can you imagine it? May God shed tears? Can God shed tears? Can God clap His hands? Can God dance a dance? Can God sing a song? What song should it be? Of course, God can sing a beautiful song, a melodious song, and a song that can express His happiness and delight in His heart, and sing it to man, sing it to Himself, and also sing it to all things. God can express His happiness in any way. All this is normal, because God has pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy. God can express His different moods in different ways. This is God’s right, and is something that cannot be more normal. You should not have any critical view about it and should not treat God with your trammels, telling God, “Do not do this. Do not do that. You cannot act in this way. You cannot act in that way,” restraining God’s happiness and restraining any mood of God. In man’s heart, God should not be happy, should not shed tears, should not weep, and should not express any mood. Through these two recent fellowships, I believe you will no longer treat God like that but will let God have some freedom and release. This is a very good phenomenon. In the future when you hear that God is sad and you can truly feel God’s sadness, and when you hear that God is happy and you can truly feel God’s happiness, or at least you can clearly know and understand what God is happy for and what God is sad for, when you can be sad for God’s sadness and happy for God’s happiness, your heart will have been completely gained by God, there will not be any barrier between you and God, and you will not bind God with human imagination and notion or knowledge. The God at that time will be living in your heart, true and real, will be the God as your life, and will be the Lord ruling over your everything. Do you have such a wish? Do you have the faith to reach it?
Next, read the following verses.
6. The Sermon on the Mount
1) The Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12)
2) Salt and Light (Mt 5:13-16)
3) Law (Mt 5:17-20)
4) Anger (Mt 5:21-26)
5) Adultery (Mt 5:27-30)
6) Divorce (Mt 5:31-32)
7) Vows (Mt 5:33-37)
8) Eye for Eye (Mt 5:38-42)
9) Love Your Enemies (Mt 5:43-48)
10) Instruction about Giving (Mt 6:1-4)
11) Prayer (Mt 6:5-8)
7. The Lord Jesus’ Parables
1) The Parable of the Sower (Mt 13:1-9)
2) The Parable of the Tares (Mt 13:24-30)
3) The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mt 13:31-32)
4) The Parable of the Leaven (Mt 13:33)
5) The Parable of the Tares Explained (Mt 13:36-43)
6) The Parable of the Treasure (Mt 13:44)
7) The Parable of the Pearl (Mt 13:45-46)
8) The Parable of the Net (Mt 13:47-50)
8. The Commandments
(Mt 22:37-39) Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Let’s first look at all the items in “The Sermon on the Mount.” What do all these contents involve? Certainly, they are more uplifted and specific and closer to man’s life than those contents in the decrees of the Age of Law. To put it in today’s terms, they are closer to man’s actual practice.
Let’s read the following detailed contents: what you should know about “the beatitudes”; what you should know about “law”; what your definition of “anger” is; how to treat adulterers; what sayings and rules there are concerning divorce, what kind of person is permitted to divorce, and what kind of person is not permitted to divorce; vows, eye for eye, loving your enemies, and instruction about giving; and so on. All these contents have to do with the various aspects of practices in man’s believing in God and following God. From today’s perspective, some of them are still applicable, but they are a little simpler than today’s requirements for man. They are the rather basic truths man contacted in believing in God. From the time the Lord Jesus began to do the work, He already set about the works concerning man’s life disposition. However, they were some works based on the law. Did the rules and sayings in these aspects have to do with the truth? Of course, they did! Whether the decrees and principles before or these precious teachings in the Age of Grace, they all had to do with God’s disposition and what God has and is, and of course they all had to do with the truth. No matter what God expresses, in what way He expresses, or in what language He expresses, the foundation, root, and intention of His expressing it are all based on the principle of His disposition and of what He has and is. This is exactly true. So, though these words, viewed from today’s perspective, are somewhat shallow, you cannot say they are not truths, because they are the indispensable things for people to satisfy God’s heart’s desire and be transformed in their life disposition in the Age of Grace. Of these precious teachings, which one can you say is not in accordance with the truth? None! All of them are truths, because they are all God’s requirements for man, are all the principles and scopes of conducting oneself that God gave man, and all represent God’s disposition. It is only that in light of the level of the people’s life at that time, they could only accept these and could only understand these. Because man’s sins had not been solved, the Lord Jesus could only express those words and could only, within such scopes and with such simple teachings, tell the people at that time how they should act, what things they should do, within what principles and scopes they should do things, and how to believe in God and meet God’s requirements. These were all determined according to the stature of the people at that time. For those who lived under the law, it was far from easy to accept these ways, so the Lord Jesus’ preachings could only be within such scopes.
Next, let’s look at each item in “The Lord Jesus’ Parables.”
The first is the parable of the sower. This parable is very meaningful. Sowing is a common thing in man’s life. The second is the parable of the tares. As to what tares are, all those who have grown crops or adults know it. The third is the parable of the mustard seed. You know what mustard is, don’t you? If anyone does not know, he may look into the Bible. The fourth is the parable of the leaven. Most people know that the leaven serves as ferment, and it is a thing man can use in his daily life. The following sixth is the parable of the treasure, the seventh, the parable of the pearl, and the eighth, the parable of the net. All these parables were taken from man’s life and came from man’s real life. What picture do these parables give man? The picture is that God, who became a normal man, lived together with men, and communicated with them and supplied their needs in everyday language and with words of humanity. After God incarnate lived among men for a long time and experienced and saw men’s various ways of living, these experiences of life became the teaching materials with which He changed the words of divinity into the words of humanity. Of course, what He had seen and heard in life also enriched the experience of the Son of man in humanity. When He wanted people to understand some truths and some of God’s will, He could tell them God’s will and God’s requirement for man by such means as the above parables. All these parables were related to man’s life, and none was divorced from man’s life. When the Lord Jesus lived with men, He saw farmers sowing. He knew what tares were and what leaven was. He also knew that mankind liked treasures, so He used the parable of the treasure and the parable of the pearl. In His life, He often saw fishermen casting nets. The Lord Jesus saw all such activities related to mankind’s life, and at the same time He was also experiencing such a life. Like every normal person, He had three meals a day and worked and rested daily. He was personally experiencing a common person’s life and also seeing other people’s life. When He personally saw and experienced all these, what He thought about was not how to live a good life or how He Himself lived an easier and more comfortable life. Rather, when He experienced the real life of mankind, He saw the bitterness of mankind’s living and saw the miserableness, poorness, and pitifulness of the mankind corrupted by Satan living under Satan’s domain and living in sin. When He personally experienced the life of mankind, He also felt how helpless the mankind was who lived in corruption and also felt and saw the miserable condition of the mankind who lived in sin being tortured by Satan and by sin to the extent of not knowing where to go. When the Lord Jesus saw these, did His divinity or His humanity see them? The Lord Jesus’ humanity existed and was living. He could feel and also see all these. Of course, His substance, His divinity, also saw them, that is, Christ Himself—the person of the Lord Jesus—saw them. All these He saw made Him feel the importance and necessity of the work He undertook when incarnated this time. Although He Himself knew how heavy the responsibility He would bear was when incarnated this time and how cruel the suffering He would face was, nevertheless when He saw that mankind was helpless in sin, and when He saw that mankind lived pitifully under the law and struggled powerlessly, He became more and more grieved in His heart and became more and more eager to save mankind from sin. No matter what difficult situations He would encounter, and no matter what suffering He would undergo, His heart became more and more determined to redeem man who lived in sin. During this course, it could be said that the Lord Jesus knew more and more clearly what work He should do and what commission He should undertake; moreover, He became more and more eager to accomplish the work He would undertake—bearing all the sins of man and atoning for mankind’s sins so that mankind would no longer live in sins, and meanwhile God would no longer remember man’s sins because of the sin offering and thus go on with the next stage of the work of saving mankind. It could be said that in His heart the Lord Jesus was willing to offer up and sacrifice Himself for mankind and willing to be crucified as a sin offering, and He was eager to accomplish this work. So much so that when He saw the miserable condition of mankind’s life, He even more wanted to accomplish His commission soon without an instant’s delay. When He had such an eager mind, He did not consider how greatly He would suffer, nor did He care how much humiliation He would endure. He just had one conviction in His heart: As long as He offered Himself up, as long as He was nailed onto the cross as a sin offering, God’s will would be carried out and God could start a new work, and mankind’s life in sin and mankind’s state of living in sin would be completely changed. His conviction and the thing He was determined to do both had to do with saving mankind. He only had one purpose: to carry out God’s will so that God could carry out the next stage of His work smoothly. This was the Lord Jesus’ mind at that time.
As the incarnate God who lived in the flesh, He had normal humanity, He had the emotion and sense a normal person has, and He knew what joy is and what pain is. When He saw mankind living such a life, He deeply felt that He could not bring man out of sin simply by giving man some teachings or some supplies or instructions, nor could He save man out of sin by requiring man to just keep the commandments, and that only if He Himself bore mankind’s sin and became in the likeness of sinful flesh could man have freedom and receive God’s forgiveness for mankind. So after the Lord Jesus had experienced and seen mankind’s life in sin, in His heart He had a strong desire—let mankind break free from the life of seeking in sin. This desire made Him feel more and more that He should go to the cross and bear mankind’s sin as early as possible and as soon as possible. This was the mind the Lord Jesus had when He, living with mankind, had seen, heard, and felt mankind’s miserable condition of living in sin. God incarnate could have such a will for mankind and could express and manifest such disposition. Could an ordinary man attain to this? When an ordinary man lived in such an environment, what could he see? What could he think about? If an ordinary man was faced with all that, would he view the issue from a high angle? Certainly not! Though God incarnate looks the same as man, and He also learns human knowledge and speaks human language, and sometimes even expresses His meaning in a human way or by quoting human sayings, nevertheless the substance of His looking at mankind and viewing things is absolutely different from that of corrupt mankind, and the angle and height He takes are beyond the reach of any corrupt human. This is because God is the truth, the flesh He is clothed with also has the substance of God Himself, and what is expressed from His mind and from His humanity is also the truth. To corrupt mankind, all the expression of the flesh is the supply of the truth and the supply of life. Such supply is not directed at a certain person alone but at all mankind. With any corrupt man, his heart can only contain the several people related to him, and he only cares and is concerned about those several people. When a disaster comes, he first thinks of his children, his spouse, or his parents. Someone of “universal love” thinks of a certain relative or good friend of his at most. Will he think of more than that? Never will! This is because man is man after all, and man can only view everything in the position of a man and in the height of a man. God’s incarnate flesh, however, is completely different from corrupt mankind. No matter how common, normal, humble, or even diminished God’s incarnate flesh is, His mind and His attitude toward mankind cannot be possessed or imitated by any man. He observes mankind always in the position of divinity and in the height of the Creator, and looks at mankind with God’s substance and God’s mind, and He will never look at mankind in the height of an ordinary man or in the position of a corrupt man. Man looks at mankind with human eyes, and takes human knowledge, human regulation, human doctrine, and so on as the standard of measurement. This is the scope man can see with his physical eyes and the scope within the reach of corrupt mankind. God looks at mankind with divine eyes, and takes God’s substance and what God has and is as the standard of measurement. This is the scope that man cannot see. This is where God’s incarnate flesh is completely different from corrupt mankind. This difference is determined by their respective substances. And it is their different substances that decide their respective identities and positions and also decide their respective positions and heights of viewing things. In the Lord Jesus, have you seen the expressions and manifestations of God Himself? It can be said that what the Lord Jesus did and said all had to do with His ministry and with God’s own management work, and were all the expressions and manifestations of God’s substance. Even though He had some manifestations of humanity, His divine substance and manifestations cannot be denied. Were such manifestations of His humanity really manifestations of humanity? They were completely different from the manifestations of corrupt mankind’s humanity in substance. The Lord Jesus was God’s incarnate flesh. If He had really been a common member of corrupt mankind, could He have looked at the sinful life of mankind in the position of divinity? Absolutely not! This is the difference between the Son of man and an ordinary man. Corrupt men all live in sin, and no one has any feeling about sin when looking at it, and all are the same. This is like a pig living in the mud. It does not have any feeling of discomfort or feel it is dirty, and it eats well and sleeps well. If you clean up the pigsty, the pig, however, feels uneasy, and it will not keep the pigsty clean. Before long, the pig will again roll in the mud and feel really comfortable. This is because it is just a dirty thing. In man’s view, he feels that the pig is too dirty, and even though you clean up for it, it does not feel it good. So no one raises pigs in his room. Man’s viewpoint on the pig is always different from the pig’s own feeling, because man and pig are not of the same kind. Likewise, it is because the incarnate Son of man and corrupt men are not of the same kind that only God’s incarnate flesh can look at mankind and view everything in the position and height of God.
When God is incarnated and lives among men, what is the suffering God’s flesh undergoes? Does anyone truly know it? Some people say, “God has suffered so greatly. He is God Himself, but no one knows His substance, and people always treat Him as a man, making Him feel hard done by and wronged. God has really suffered so greatly.” Some say, “God is innocent and sinless, but He undergoes the same sufferings as man. He is suffering persecutions, slanders, and insults with men, and meanwhile He is enduring the misunderstanding and disobedience of His followers. The sufferings God has undergone are really innumerable.” It can be seen that you do not truly know God. Actually these sufferings you say are not real sufferings to God, because there is something more bitter than these. Then what is the real suffering to God Himself? What is the real suffering to God’s incarnate flesh? To God, it is not suffering that man does not know Him, nor is it suffering that man has some misunderstandings of Him and does not treat Him as God. However, man often feels that God seems to suffer a great wrong, and feels that God, when incarnated, cannot manifest His person to mankind for them to see His greatness, and God is always humbly hidden in the small flesh like this, so God must be greatly tormented in His heart. Man just takes to heart God’s sufferings that man can understand and see, and thus gives God sympathy in every possible way and even often gives some small praises for that. In fact there is a difference or distance between the sufferings man thinks God undergoes and the suffering God truly feels. I tell you the truth, to God, whether God’s Spirit or God’s incarnate flesh, none of these sufferings is the real suffering. Then what is the suffering God undergoes actually? Let’s talk about God’s suffering only from the angle of the incarnate God.
When God is incarnated as a common and normal person, He lives among men and lives together with mankind. As for men’s styles, rules, and ideas of living, can’t God see and feel them? What does He feel about these styles and rules of living? Does He loathe them in His heart? Why does He loathe them? What are mankind’s styles and rules of living? On what principles are they based? What is their basis? Mankind’s life styles, their rules of living, and so on come into existence based on Satan’s logic, knowledge, and philosophy. The mankind who lives under such rules of living has no humanity or truth, and they all go against the truth and are hostile to God. Then let’s look at God’s substance. God’s substance is just opposite to Satan’s logic, knowledge, and philosophy. His substance is full of the reality of all positive things, such as righteousness, truth, holiness, and so on. When the God with such substance lives among such a mankind, what is His feeling in the heart? Isn’t His heart full of suffering? His heart suffers, and this suffering no one understands and no one can feel. This is because what He faces, contacts, hears, sees, and experiences are all mankind’s corruption and evil and their disobedience and resistance against the truth. Everything from man is the cause of His suffering. In other words, because He is different from corrupt mankind in substance, mankind’s corruption becomes the source of His greatest suffering. When God is incarnated, can He find a person who has a common language with Him? He cannot find one among mankind. Since He cannot find among mankind one who can communicate and commune with Him, what do you think God’s heart feels? What man talks about, what man likes, and what man pursues and yearns for are all related to sins and related to evil trends. When God is faced with all these, doesn’t He feel as if a knife were being twisted in His heart? As He is faced with these things, can His heart be happy? Can His heart be comforted? Those He lives with are the mankind full of disobedience and evil, so how could His heart not suffer? As to how great such suffering is, who has ever cared about it? Who has ever paid attention to it? And who can feel it? God’s heart man cannot understand, and God’s suffering man can even less feel. Man’s indifference and numbness add more suffering to God’s suffering.
Some people often sympathize with Christ’s situation. For the Bible says: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay his head.” After they hear this word, they take it to heart and think that this is the greatest suffering God undergoes and the greatest suffering Christ undergoes. Now, judging from the facts, is that so? God does not regard such suffering as suffering. He never, because of such suffering His flesh undergoes, cries out for justice or asks man to reward Him with something or repay Him with something. Rather, when God personally sees man’s everything, seeing man’s corrupt living and corrupt mankind’s evil, seeing man being controlled by Satan and trapped by Satan and unable to get free, and seeing man living in sin and not knowing what the truth is, all these sins of man are intolerable to God and increase God’s loathing for mankind with each passing day, but at the same time He has to endure all this. This is the greatest suffering God undergoes. Even among His followers God cannot completely express His heart’s voice and His pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy, and even among His followers, there is no one who can truly know His suffering, nor is there anyone who tries to understand and comfort His heart. His heart undergoes such suffering day after day, year after year, and time after time. What do you see here? God does not ask any repayment for His expending for mankind, but because of His substance, He cannot tolerate mankind’s evil, corruption, or sin in the slightest, and He extremely loathes them and extremely abhors them, which causes His heart and His flesh to constantly suffer. Do you see this? I think none of you can see this, because none of you truly know God. Take time to experience it gradually!
Then let’s look at the next passages of scripture.
9. Jesus Performed Miracles
1) Jesus Fed the Five Thousand
(Jn 6:8-13) One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, There is a lad here, which has five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.
2) The Resurrection of Lazarus Glorified God
(Jn 11:43-44) And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, Loose him, and let him go.
Among the miracles the Lord Jesus performed, we have only selected these two, because these two are sufficient to make clear the point I want to talk about here. These are two very amazing miracles, and they are two very representative miracles that the Lord Jesus performed in the Age of Grace.
Let’s now look at the first passage: Jesus Fed the Five Thousand.
What is the concept of “five loaves and two fishes”? How many people can five loaves and two fishes feed usually? Measured according to what a normal person can eat, they may only be enough to feed two. This is the most basic concept “five loaves and two fishes” gives to man. But in the record of this passage, how many people were the five loaves and two fishes given to feed? It is recorded in the scripture: “Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.” Compared with five loaves and two fishes, is the number five thousand large? What does it show that the number is large? In man’s eyes, it is impossible to feed five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, because these two are too far apart. Even if each person just had a small bite, the five loaves and two fishes were not enough to feed the five thousand. But here the Lord Jesus performed a miracle, and He not only let them eat their fill, but there were leftovers, as the verses say: “When they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.” This miracle made people see the Lord Jesus’ identity and position, also see that with God anything is possible, and see the fact that God is almighty. Here it was with five loaves and two fishes that God fed the five thousand; if there was no food, could God feed the five thousand? Of course He could! As it was a miracle, it must be unimaginable and mysterious to man in some ways. But for God, it was nothing to do such a thing. Since it was a common thing to God, why do I interpret it here? Because behind this miracle, there was the Lord Jesus’ will that mankind has never discovered.
Let’s first see what kind of people the five thousand were. Were they followers of the Lord Jesus? From the verses, we know that they were not followers of the Lord Jesus. Did they know who the Lord Jesus was? Certainly not! At least, they did not know this person who stood before them was Christ. Some of them might only know what His name was and know or hear what things He had done. They were only curious about the Lord Jesus they heard of, and were far from following Him, not to speak of knowing about the Lord Jesus Himself. When the Lord Jesus saw the five thousand, they had an empty stomach and only wanted to eat their fill. Against such a background, the Lord Jesus satisfied their desire. When He satisfied their desire, what did He think in His heart? What was His attitude toward these people who only wanted to eat their fill? The Lord Jesus’ mind and attitude here had to do with God’s disposition and God’s substance. Facing the five thousand who were hungry and only desired to have a good meal, and facing the five thousand who were full of curiosity and expectation for the Lord Jesus, He only wanted to bestow grace on them through this miracle, and yet He did not have any extravagant hope that they could follow Him. This was because He knew that their purpose was just to be along for the ride and to eat the loaves and be filled. Therefore, He used the things available there, the five loaves and two fishes, to feed the five thousand so that these people who liked to watch the fun and liked to see miracles had an eye-opener and saw with their own eyes what the incarnate God could do. Although the Lord Jesus satisfied their curiosity with the fact, in His heart He had long known that the five thousand only had the purpose to eat the loaves and be filled. So He did not say anything or preach anything to them at all, but He only let them see the happening of the miracle. He would not possibly treat these people as He treated the disciples who truly followed Him. However, in God’s heart, all created beings are under His sovereignty, and if it is necessary, He will let any created being under His eyes enjoy the grace from Him. Even though these people did not know who He was or understand Him, or have any impression about Him or any gratitude to Him even after they ate the loaves and fishes, God did not mind those things, but gave them a very good opportunity to enjoy God’s grace. Some people say that God has principles in doing things and He does not care for or keep those who do not believe in Him, much less let them enjoy His grace. Is this the fact? In God’s eyes, whatever living created beings created by Him, He will manage and take care of them, and will treat them in different ways and arrange and rule over them in different ways. This is God’s mind and attitude toward all things.
Although the five thousand who ate the loaves and fishes did not intend to follow the Lord Jesus, He was not serious with these people. After they were fed, do you know what the Lord Jesus did? Did the Lord Jesus preach anything to them? Where did the Lord Jesus go after that? The verses do not record what the Lord Jesus said to them. After He performed the miracle, He left quietly. Then did He have any requirement for them? Did He have hatred toward them? No. He just did not want to give more attention to these people who could not possibly follow Him at all. At that time, His heart was aching. Because He saw the fall of mankind and felt mankind’s rejection of Him, and also because when He saw these people or when He was with them, mankind’s obtuseness and ignorance made Him very sad and distressed in His heart, therefore He only wanted to depart from them as soon as possible. Although in the heart of the Lord, He did not have any requirement for them, He did not want to pay attention to them, much less want to spend His energy on them, and He knew that they could not possibly follow Him, nevertheless the Lord Jesus’ attitude toward them was very clear. He only wanted to treat them with kindness and bestow grace on them. This was the attitude God had toward every created being under His sovereignty: Be kind to every created being and supply and nourish every created being. Just because the Lord Jesus was God’s incarnate flesh, He naturally manifested the substance of God Himself. He treated them with kindness; He treated them with a merciful and generous heart, being kind to them. No matter how these people looked at the Lord Jesus, and no matter what the result would be, He just treated every created being in the identity of the Creator. Whatever manifested in Him was God’s disposition and what God has and is. The Lord Jesus quietly did a thing, and then quietly left. What aspect of God’s disposition is this? Can it be said to be God’s lovingkindness? Can it be said that God is selfless? Can an ordinary man do this? Certainly not! As far as their substance was concerned, what kind of people were the five thousand the Lord Jesus fed with the five loaves and two fishes? Could they be said to be ones compatible with the Lord? Could they all be said to be ones against God? Certainly, they were absolutely not ones compatible with the Lord, and they were absolutely against God in substance. However, how did God treat them? He used a way to dissolve their enmity to Him. The way is “being kind.” In other words, although the Lord Jesus regarded them as sinners, they were still created beings in God’s eyes, so He still treated these sinners with kindness. This is God’s tolerance, and this tolerance is determined by the identity and substance of God Himself. So no created man can do it, but only God can.
When you can truly sense God’s mind and attitude toward mankind and truly understand God’s “affection” and care for every created being, you will be able to understand the painstaking care the Creator has exerted on every human being He created and the love the Creator has given to them. At that time you will be able to describe God’s love with two words. What are they? Some say, selfless, and others say, universal. Of these two words, “universal” is the most improper word to describe God’s love. This word is used by man to describe a person’s broad heart and feelings. I loathe this word very much, because it has the meaning of giving blindly without principles and without distinguishing the objects, and it is the manifestation of a foolish person or a muddle-headed one misusing his emotion. If you use such a word to describe God’s love, it unavoidably has the inclination of blaspheming God. I have two more appropriate words to describe God’s love. What are they? The first word is gigantic. Doesn’t this word have a great artistic concept? The second is vast. It has practical meaning that I use these two words to describe God’s love. Literally, the word “gigantic” is used to describe the volume or capacity of a material object. Yet no matter how big the material object is, it can be touched and seen by man, because it exists, it is not an abstract thing, and it can give man a quite accurate and actual concept. No matter whether it is viewed from two dimensions or from three dimensions, it does not require people to imagine its existence, because it is something that truly exists. Although describing God’s love with “gigantic” makes people feel that this word quantifies God’s love, it also makes people feel that God’s love can hardly be quantified. To say that God’s love can be quantified is because God’s love is not unreal or from legend, but shared by all things under God’s sovereignty and also enjoyed by every created being in different levels and from different angles. Although it cannot be seen or touched by man, it makes all things be nourished and live. The living of all things is manifesting the bits of God’s love and is also counting and testifying God’s love they enjoy every moment. To say that God’s love can hardly be quantified is because the mystery of God’s supplying and nourishing all things is unfathomable to mankind, and because God’s mind in treating all things, especially in treating mankind, is unfathomable to man. In other words, no one knows how much painstaking care the Creator exerts on mankind, and no one can understand or know how deeply the Creator loves the mankind He created with His own hands and how deep this affection is. I use “gigantic” to describe God’s love for the purpose that man can feel and understand the broadness and real existence of God’s love, and for the purpose that man can more deeply comprehend the actual meaning of the word “Creator” and more deeply understand the real meaning of the address of “created being.” What is “vast” usually used to describe? It is usually used to describe the sea and the universe, for example, the vast universe and the vast sea. To man, the extensiveness and deep serenity of the universe are beyond his reach. Man is full of imagination and adoration for it. Its mystery and profoundness are unreachable for man. At the thought of the sea, you will think of its broadness. You cannot see its end, and you can feel its mysteriousness and inclusiveness. So I use “vast” to describe God’s love, for the purpose that man can feel the preciousness of God’s love and the beauty of its profoundness, feel that the power of God’s love is infinite and broad, and also feel the holiness of God’s love and God’s dignity and unoffendableness manifested in God’s love. Then now do you feel it is appropriate that I use the word “vast” to describe God’s love? Is God’s love worthy of these two words “gigantic” and “vast”? Very worthy! In human language, only these two words are quite appropriate, closer to the description of God’s love. Do you feel them appropriate? If you are asked to describe God’s love, will you use these two words? I think you won’t. This is because your understanding and experience of God’s love are just limited in two-dimensional scope and have not been upgraded to the height of three-dimensional space. Therefore, when you are asked to describe God’s love, you all feel lacking in words and even have nothing to say in reply. Maybe you feel it hard to understand the two words I say today, or you do not agree at all. This only shows that you experience and understand God’s love too superficially and in a too narrow scope. I have said before that God is selfless, and you just remember selfless. Could God’s love only be described by “selfless”? Isn’t this scope too narrow? You should ponder over this thing more before you can gain something.
The above is God’s disposition and God’s substance we see from the first miracle. Although it is a story that has been read for several thousand years, in which some simple scenes are given and people see some simple phenomena, nevertheless in these simple scenes we see the more valuable things, which are God’s disposition and what God has and is. What God has and is here represents God Himself and expresses God’s own mind. When God expressed His mind, He was also expressing His heart’s voice. He hoped that some people could understand Him, hoped that some people could know Him and understand His will, and also hoped that some people could listen to His heart’s voice and could take the initiative to cooperate and satisfy His heart’s desire. And the things the Lord Jesus did were exactly the silent expression of God.
Next, let’s look at the passage about “the resurrection of Lazarus glorified God.”
Do you have any thought after reading this passage? This miracle the Lord Jesus performed carried much more weight in its significance than the first one, because no miracle could be more amazing than having a dead person come out from his tomb. The Lord Jesus did such a thing, and it was very meaningful in that age. For God was incarnated, and man only saw His appearance and saw the aspects of His being practical and being small. Even though some people saw and knew some of His characters or outward talents, who could know where the Lord Jesus came from, who He was in substance, and what things He could do? To man, all these were unknown. Too many people wanted to verify this matter and wanted to know the truth of the matter. Could God do a thing to prove His identity? To God, it was a piece of cake, as easy as winking. God could do a thing to prove His identity and substance at any time and in any place, but God did things in a planned and systematic way and never did things randomly. He only sought an appropriate time and opportunity to do a most meaningful thing for man to see so as to prove His authority and His identity. Then could the “resurrection of Lazarus” prove the Lord Jesus’ identity? Let’s read the scriptures: “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth.” When the Lord Jesus did this thing, He only said one word: “Lazarus, come forth.” Then Lazarus came out of the tomb, and this thing was accomplished because of the one word of the Lord’s mouth. During it, the Lord Jesus did not set up an altar or have any other action, but only said one word. Was that a miracle or an order? Or magic? Outwardly, it seemed that it could be called a miracle. Of course, now it can also be called a miracle, but it absolutely cannot be called necromancy, much less sorcery. To put it correctly, this miracle is only a most common and small manifestation of the Creator’s authority. This is God’s authority and God’s power. God has the authority to let a person die, telling that spirit to leave the flesh and return to Hades or return to the place where he should go. When a person will die and where he will go after death, these are determined by God. God can do these things at any time and in any place. He is not restricted by people, matters, things, space, or geography. As long as He wants to do them, He can do. For all things and living beings are under His sovereignty, and all things come into being or perish because of His word and His authority. He can raise a dead person, and this is a thing He can do at any time and in any place. This is the unique authority of the Creator.
The Lord Jesus did such a thing as raising up Lazarus, for the purpose of proving to man, proving to Satan, letting man know, and letting Satan know that man’s everything, man’s life and death, is decided by God, that although God is incarnated, He is still governing the physical world man can see and also the spiritual realm man cannot see, and that nothing of man is under Satan’s control. This is the expression and manifestation of God’s authority and is a way by which God sends to all things the message that He controls mankind’s life and death. “The Lord Jesus raising up Lazarus” was one of the ways in which the Creator spoke to and instructed mankind, a concrete action through which He instructed and supplied mankind with His power and authority, a way in which the Creator used non-language to let mankind see the fact that He governs all things, and a way in which the Creator told mankind with His actual deed that there is salvation in no one else. The instruction given to mankind in such a silent way lasts eternally and can never be obliterated. He has brought a never-fading shock and edification to mankind’s heart. The incident that “the resurrection of Lazarus glorified God” has a far-reaching effect on every follower of God. He has firmly positioned everyone who deeply knows this incident into the realization and vision that “only God controls man’s life and death.” Although God has such authority, and although He has used such a way as “raising up Lazarus” to send the message that He rules over the life and death of mankind, that is not His main work. God never does meaningless things, and everything He does is very valuable and is a classic in the treasures. He will never take “asking a man to come out from his tomb” as the main or only goal or item of His work. God does not do meaningless things. The one case of the resurrection of Lazarus was sufficient to manifest God’s authority and sufficient to prove the Lord Jesus’ identity. So, the Lord Jesus did not perform such a miracle again. God does things by His own principles. In human terms, “God minds His proper duty.” In other words, when God does things, He will not deviate from the purpose of His work. He knew what work He came to do and what He came to accomplish in that stage, and He would do things strictly according to His plan. If a corrupt man has such ability, he will seize every possibility to show it off, letting everyone know his greatness and thus bow their heads to him in submission, so that he will achieve his purpose of controlling and devouring them. This is evil from Satan, and it can also be called corruption. God does not have such disposition or such substance. The purpose of His doing things is not to show off but to give man more revelation and guidance. So, people see in the Bible that such a case is rare. Rare does not mean that the Lord Jesus was limited in power or that He could not do so, but that God did not want to do it at all. Because the incident of the Lord Jesus raising up Lazarus had a very practical meaning, and also because the main work of God incarnate was not to perform miracles or to raise up the dead, but to do the redemptive work, therefore the more work the Lord Jesus did was to instruct, supply, and help people, and such a thing as raising up Lazarus was only a small part of the ministry the Lord Jesus performed. It can even more be said that there is no such an element as “showing off” in God’s substance. So He did not perform more miracles not because He deliberately restrained Himself, or because He was restricted by the environment, much less because He did not have such ability to do so.
When the Lord Jesus raised up Lazarus, He said nothing except such a word as “Lazarus, come forth.” What does this one word show? It shows that God can accomplish everything by His word, including raising up the dead. In the beginning when God created all things, when God created the world, it was by His words, the words of command, the words with authority, that all things came into being and things were thus accomplished. The one word spoken from the mouth of the Lord Jesus is just like the words spoken from the mouth of God when He created the heavens and the earth and all things, which has God’s own authority and the power of the Creator. All things were established and accomplished because of the words from God’s mouth, and likewise, Lazarus came out of the tomb because of the word from the Lord Jesus’ mouth. This is the authority from God. He is manifested and realized in God’s incarnate flesh. Such authority and power belong to the Creator and also belong to the Son of man in whom the Creator was realized. This is the knowledge God has taught man through the fact of His raising up Lazarus. That’s all for this topic. Go on to read the verses.
10. The Pharisees’ Judgment on Jesus
(Mk 3:21-22) And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts he out devils.
11. Jesus’ Rebuke to the Pharisees
(Mt 12:31-32) “Why I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven to men. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
(Mt 23:13-15) “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”
The above are two different parts of contents. Let’s now look at the first part: The Pharisees’ Judgment on Jesus.
In the scriptures, the Pharisees’ evaluation of Jesus and the things Jesus did was: (Mk 3:21-22) …they said, He is beside himself. … He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts he out devils. The scribes and Pharisees’ judgment on the Lord Jesus was not their echo of what others said or their baseless imagination, but was the conclusion they drew about the Lord Jesus after they saw and heard the things the Lord Jesus did. Although their conclusion was under the cover of upholding justice, which seemed to be reasonable and substantiated, nevertheless their aggressive arrogance in judging the Lord Jesus could not be contained even by themselves. Their frenzied manner of hating the Lord Jesus betrayed their ambition, betrayed their evil satanic face, and betrayed their malicious nature of resisting God. And it was just driven by their ambition, jealousy, and ugly and malicious nature of hating the truth and hating God that they spoke out these words of judgment on the Lord Jesus. They did not investigate the origin of the things the Lord Jesus did or the substance of the words and the things the Lord Jesus said and did, but with their evil intention consciously attacked and vilified the Lord Jesus’ deeds in a blind, impetuous, and desperate way, even to the point of willfully vilifying the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, that is, the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit. This is what the words “He is beside himself; Beelzebub and the prince of the devils” spoken from their mouths meant. In other words, they spoke of the Spirit of God as Beelzebub and the prince of the devils and condemned the work of the flesh God’s Spirit was clothed with as being beside Himself. They not only blasphemed the Spirit of God as Beelzebub and the prince of the devils, but also condemned God’s work and condemned and blasphemed the Lord . The substance of their resisting and blaspheming God was completely the same as the substance of Satan’s and devils’ resisting and blaspheming God. They did not just represent the corrupt mankind but were even more the embodiment of Satan. They were Satan’s outlet among mankind and were also Satan’s accomplices and Satan’s servants. The substance of their blaspheming and vilifying the Lord Jesus Christ was that they contended with God for position, competed against God, and constantly tested God. Their substance of resisting God, their hostile attitude toward God, what they said in their mouths, and what they thought in their hearts all directly blasphemed and infuriated God’s Spirit. Therefore, God made a reasonable conclusion about what they said and did and condemned their doings as the sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, which shall not be forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to come, just as the following verses say, “…the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven to men” and “…whoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Today, let’s talk about the real meaning of this word spoken from God’s mouth, “it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come,” that is, disclose the mystery of how God fulfilled this word “it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
All the contents we talk about are related to God’s disposition and related to God’s attitude toward people, matters, and things. Of course, the two portions of scripture above are no exception. Do you see anything in these two portions of scripture? Some people say that they see God’s anger. Some say that they see the aspect of God’s disposition that does not tolerate man’s offense and see that if one does things of blaspheming God, God will not forgive him. In these two portions of scripture, although people see and feel God’s anger and God’s intolerance of man’s offense, they still do not truly know God’s attitude. In these two sections are implied God’s real attitude toward those who blaspheme and infuriate Him and the way of His dealing with them. This attitude and this way of dealing are the real meaning of this word in the scripture “whoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” When a person blasphemes God, that is, when he infuriates God, God will give a conclusion. This conclusion is the result given by God. The scripture records like this: “Why I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven to men.” (Mt 12:31), and “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Mt 23:13). However, as for the scribes and the Pharisees and those who said that the Lord Jesus was beside Himself, is there a record in the Bible about what their outcome was like after the Lord Jesus said those words? Is there a record about what punishment they received? Surely there is none. “There is none” said here does not mean that it is not recorded, but that actually they did not receive the outcome people could see with their physical eyes. “There is none” here tells a thing. It tells God’s attitude and principle by which He handles certain things. Toward those who blasphemed Him, those who resisted Him, even some people who slandered Him, and those who intentionally attacked, slandered, and reviled Him, He did not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear but had a definite attitude. He hated those people, also condemned them in His heart, and even declared their outcome publicly, so that man could know He had a definite attitude toward those who blasphemed Him and know how He would decide their outcome. However, after God said those words, man could seldom see the fact of how God dealt with those people and could hardly know the principle by which God gave them the outcome or the conclusion. In other words, usually man could not see God’s concrete attitude and way of dealing with those people. This has to do with the principle of God’s doing things. In treating some people’s evil deeds, God uses actual happenings, that is, God directly punishes them or gives them deserved retribution by actual happenings, without declaring their guilt or deciding their outcome. Such actual happenings punish their flesh and can all be seen by human physical eyes. In treating some people’s evil deeds, God only curses them with words, His anger coming upon them at the same time. However, the punishment they receive may not be seen by human physical eyes, but in nature such an outcome is even severer than the visible outcome of being punished or struck down. This is because under the situation that God is determined to not save such people, no longer have mercy on them, no longer tolerate them, and no longer give them any chance, God’s attitude toward them is laying them aside. What does “laying aside” mean? This phrase itself means putting aside first, ignoring, and paying no attention. For “laying one aside” God has two explanations: The first explanation is that God gives his life and his everything to Satan to deal with and God is no longer responsible for him and no longer manages him, and that whether he becomes insane, mad, or idiotic, whether he lives or dies, or whether he suffers punishment in hell, it has nothing to do with God. This means that such a created being totally has nothing to do with the Creator. The second explanation is that God is determined to personally do something on such a person. He may use him to do service, may use him as a setoff, or may deal with him or treat him in a special way as He treated Paul. This is the principle and attitude in God’s heart by which He is determined to deal with this kind of people. So when a person resists God, slanders God, or blasphemes God, if he provokes God’s disposition and touches God’s bottom line, the consequence is unimaginable. The worst consequence is that God hands the person’s life and his everything over to Satan once for all and will never ever forgive him. This means that this person becomes the food in Satan’s mouth and the plaything in Satan’s hands, and from that time on he no longer has anything to do with God. Can you imagine what the miserable state was like when Job was tempted by Satan at that time? Job still suffered very greatly under the condition that God did not allow it to take his life. How much more unimaginable will Satan’s torture be to a person who has been completely handed over to Satan, a person who has been completely controlled by Satan, a person who has completely lost God’s care and mercy and lost the Creator’s governing, and a person who has been deprived of the right to worship the Creator, who has been deprived of the right to be a created being under the sovereignty of God, and who completely has nothing to do with the Creator? Satan’s affliction of Job could be seen by human physical eyes. However, if God hands a person’s life over to Satan, the consequence is beyond anyone’s imagination. For example, some people are reincarnated as oxen, some as donkeys, some, however, are occupied and possessed by unclean demons and evil spirits, and so on. These are the outcomes and the ends of some people who have been handed over to Satan by God. Outwardly, those who mocked, slandered, condemned, and blasphemed the Lord Jesus at that time did not bear any consequence. But in fact God has an attitude in handling anything. As for the outcomes of various kinds of people, God does not always tell them to man with clear words. Sometimes, God does not say anything directly but does things directly. Saying nothing does not mean that there is no result. Maybe this result is even worse. Outwardly, God does not say anything to certain people to make clear His attitude, but actually in His heart He has long not wanted to pay heed to them or see them again. Because of their doings and because of the substance of their nature, God only wants them to disappear from His sight, and He directly hands them over to Satan, handing their spirit, soul, and body all over to Satan, and lets Satan do anything to them at will. It can be seen to what extent God has hated and loathed such people. When a person so infuriates God that God wants to see him no more and completely gives him up, even to the point that God does not want to deal with him personally, but hands him over to Satan and lets Satan do anything to him at will, letting Satan control, devour, and treat him at will, then this person is completely finished, and he is forever disqualified from being a man and no longer has the qualification of being a created being. Isn’t this the most severe punishment?
The above content is the complete interpretation of the word “it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come,” and is also the simple explanation of these verses. You understand, right?
Go on to read the following verses.
12. The Words Jesus Said to His Disciples After His Resurrection
(Jn 20:26-29) And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you. Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said to him, My LORD and my God. Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
(Jn 21:16-17) He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my sheep. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Love you me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.
What these verses record are some things the Lord Jesus, after His resurrection, did on His disciples and some words He said to them. First, let’s see: What is the difference between the resurrected Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus before? Was He still the Lord Jesus of past days? In the scriptures there is such a word that describes the resurrected Lord Jesus: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you. Obviously, the Lord Jesus of that time was no longer the flesh but the spiritual body, because He transcended the limit of the flesh and could come among men when the door was shut and let all of them see Him. This is the greatest difference between the resurrected Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus who had lived in the flesh before. Although the spiritual body at that time had no difference from the image of the Lord Jesus before, the Lord Jesus then became the Lord Jesus men felt unfamiliar with. This is because He was resurrected and became the spiritual body, this spiritual body made men feel more perplexed and doubtful than the flesh before, while at the same time caused men to feel more distant from the Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus at this time became more mysterious and unfathomable in men’s hearts. Such knowledge and feeling of men all at once brought them back to the age in which they believed in the invisible and intangible God, so the first thing the resurrected Lord Jesus wanted to do was to let all the men see Him and confirm His existence and also confirm the fact of His resurrection, and at the same time to restore men’s relationship with Him to the relationship between them and the visible and tangible Christ when He worked in the flesh. Thus, on the one hand, men could firmly believe the incident of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection after His crucifixion, and firmly believe the Lord Jesus’ work of redeeming mankind; on the other hand, the fact of the resurrected Lord Jesus appearing to men and being visible and tangible to men firmly stabilized men in the Age of Grace. From then on, men would not return back to the last age, that is, the Age of Law, because of the Lord Jesus “disappearing” or “leaving without saying goodbye,” but went on by following the teaching of the Lord Jesus and the work He had done. Thus, the work of the Age of Grace was formally started, and from then on mankind under the law formally came out of the law and entered into a new epoch and had a new beginning. This is the manifold significance of the Lord Jesus appearing to men after His resurrection.
Since He was the spiritual body, why could men touch and see Him? This had to do with the significance of the Lord Jesus appearing to men. What do you see from these passages of scripture? Usually the spiritual body is invisible and intangible, and after the Lord Jesus’ resurrection, the work undertaken by Him had been accomplished. Theoretically, it was totally unnecessary for Him to come back among men to meet them with His original image. However, the Lord Jesus’ spiritual body appearing to such a person as Thomas made the significance of the Lord Jesus appearing more concrete and go deeper into men’s hearts. When He came to Thomas, He let the doubting Thomas touch His hands, and He told Thomas: “reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” It is not after His resurrection that the Lord Jesus wanted to say these words and do these things; rather He had wanted to do so before His crucifixion. Thus it was clear that the Lord Jesus before His crucifixion already had a knowledge of such kind of person as Thomas. Then now what do we see from this? The resurrected Lord Jesus was still the same Lord Jesus, and His substance had not changed. Thomas’ doubt did not come into being now but had existed all the time during his following the Lord Jesus; it was only that He was the Lord Jesus who had been resurrected and come back from the spiritual realm, with His original image, His original disposition, and also His knowledge of men when He was in the flesh. So He first came to Thomas and let him touch His side, so that he not only saw the spiritual body of the resurrected Lord Jesus but also touched and felt the existence of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus, dropping his doubt completely. Thomas, before the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, had always been doubtful about and could not believe the fact that the Lord Jesus was the Christ. His belief in God was only based on seeing with his own eyes and touching with his own hands. The Lord Jesus had known very well about the belief of such kind of people. They only believed in the God in heaven and did not at all believe in or accept the One God sent or the incarnate Christ. In order for Thomas to acknowledge and believe that the Lord Jesus existed and that He was indeed God incarnate, the Lord Jesus asked Thomas to reach his hand and touch His side. Did Thomas have any change in his doubt before and after the Lord Jesus’ resurrection? He had been doubting all the time. No one could solve his doubt or let him drop his doubt, unless the Lord Jesus revealed His spiritual body to him personally and let him touch His nail marks with his own hand. Therefore, the Lord Jesus let him touch His side and also let him really feel the existence of the nail marks. From then on, Thomas’ doubt disappeared, and he knew for sure that the Lord Jesus had resurrected and also acknowledged and believed that the Lord Jesus was the true Christ and was God’s incarnate flesh. Although Thomas at this time no longer doubted, he forever lost the opportunity of meeting with Christ, forever lost the opportunity of being with Christ, lost the opportunity of following Christ and knowing Christ, and lost the opportunity of being perfected by Christ. And the Lord Jesus’ appearing and His words drew conclusion about and passed sentence on the belief of doubting people. By His practically speaking and acting He told doubting people and told those who only believed in the God in heaven but did not believe in Christ: God did not approve their belief and did not approve their following with doubt; the day they completely believed in God and believed in Christ would be the day when God’s work was thoroughly crowned with success, and of course that day would also be the day for their doubt to be sentenced; their attitude toward Christ decided their destiny, their stubborn doubt made their belief utterly fruitless, and their hardness caused their hope to become in vain. This is because their belief in the God in heaven was only feeding on illusions, while their doubt about Christ was their real attitude toward God. So, even if they touched the nail marks in the Lord Jesus, their belief was still in vain, and their outcome could only be described with the word “drawing water with a bamboo basket—all in vain.” The words the Lord Jesus said to Thomas were clearly telling everyone: The resurrected Lord Jesus was exactly the Lord Jesus who had worked among men for thirty-three and a half years. Although He had been crucified and had passed through the valley of death and the resurrection, whatever aspect of Him had not changed in the slightest. Although He had the nail marks and although He had resurrected and come out of the tomb, His disposition, His knowledge of man, and His will for man had not changed in the slightest; at the same time, He was also telling man that He had come down from the cross and overcome sin, overcome suffering, and overcome death, and that His nail marks were the evidence of His triumph over Satan and the evidence of His successfully redeeming the whole mankind as the sin offering, and He was telling man that He had borne mankind’s sins and accomplished His redemptive work. When He returned to meet His disciples, He told them by His appearing: “I am still living. I still exist. Today I am truly standing before you, visible and tangible to you. I will be with you at all times.” Through Thomas’ case, the Lord Jesus also wanted to exhort people after him: “Although you, who believe in the Lord Jesus, cannot see Him or touch Him, you can receive blessings by true faith and can see the Lord Jesus by true faith. Such people are blessed.”
This passage about the Lord Jesus appearing to Thomas recorded in the Bible brought great help to the people throughout the Age of Grace. The appearing of the Lord Jesus and His words to Thomas had a far-reaching effect on and lasting significance to later generations. Thomas represented the kind of people who believed in God but doubted God. They were doubtful by nature, and had a malicious and crafty heart. They did not believe the things God could accomplish and did not believe in God’s almightiness and sovereignty, nor did they believe in God’s incarnation. However, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus gave them a head-on blow and also gave them an opportunity for them to discover their doubtfulness, know their doubtfulness, and acknowledge their craftiness, so that they could truly believe in the existence and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The case of Thomas gave later generations a warning and also gave them a reminding, so that more people could warn themselves not to be doubtful like Thomas, and if they were doubtful like Thomas, they would fall into darkness. If you follow God but like Thomas always want to touch the Lord’s side and feel His nail marks so as to confirm, verify, or speculate whether God exists, God will forsake you. So the Lord Jesus required people not to believe by sight like Thomas but to be simple and honest people, who do not doubt God but simply trust and follow Him. Such people would be blessed. This was a small requirement of the Lord Jesus for man and His admonition to His followers.
All the above is the Lord Jesus’ attitude toward doubting people. Then to those who could honestly believe in and follow the Lord Jesus, what did He say and do? This is what we will look at in the next conversation between the Lord Jesus and Peter.
In this conversation, the Lord Jesus kept asking Peter one question: Peter, love you me? This was a higher standard the Lord Jesus, after His resurrection, required of such kind of people as Peter, that is, those who truly believed in Christ and pursued to love the Lord. His question was a kind of pressing question and a kind of urging question, much more a kind of requirement and expectation for such kind of people as Peter. By asking in this way, He wanted all people to do an examination and reflect on themselves: What is the Lord Jesus’ requirement for man? Am I loving the Lord? Am I a person who loves God? How should I love God? Although the Lord Jesus asked Peter alone, actually in His heart He wanted to ask more people who pursued to love God such a question through the opportunity of asking Peter; it was only that Peter was fortunate to be the representative of this kind of people, being personally asked by the Lord Jesus.
Compared with the Lord Jesus’ word to Thomas after His resurrection, “reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing,” the question He asked Peter three times, “Simon, son of Jonas, love you me?”, made people even more feel the sternness of the Lord Jesus’ attitude and the eagerness of His mind when He asked. For Thomas who was crafty and doubting by nature, the Lord Jesus asked him to reach out his hand and touch His nail marks, so that he believed that the Lord Jesus was the resurrected Son of man and acknowledged the fact that the Lord Jesus was the Christ in identity. Although the Lord Jesus did not rebuke Thomas strictly or draw conclusion about him with specific words, by the actual deed the Lord Jesus told him the Lord Jesus’ knowledge about him and at the same time made known His attitude and decision toward such kind of people. In this passage said by the Lord Jesus, no requirement and expectation for this kind of people can be seen. Because such kind of people as Thomas did not have true belief at all, the Lord Jesus had just that requirement for them. But to the people like Peter He showed a completely different attitude. He did not ask Peter to reach out his hand to touch His nail marks or say to Peter such a word as “be not faithless, but believing.” Rather, He asked Peter the same question repeatedly, and His question set people thinking and was worth pondering; every follower of Christ could not but feel self-reproach and fear, and also feel the Lord Jesus’ deep worry and sadness. In pain and distress, people had more perception of the Lord Jesus Christ’s concern and care and had more comprehension of the Lord Jesus Christ’s earnest instruction and strict requirement for simple and honest people. From the Lord Jesus’ question, people felt that the Lord’s expectation expressed in His simple word was not for man to believe and follow only, but to have love, loving your Lord and loving your God. The love here means consideration and obedience, that is, man can live for God, die for God, and sacrifice, spend, and expend his all for God; the love here also means comforting God and letting God enjoy testimony and rest, means man’s repaying God, means man’s responsibility, obligation, and duty, and also means the way man should walk for his lifetime. The question asked three times was the Lord Jesus’ requirement and charge to Peter and to all those to be perfected. It was exactly the question the Lord Jesus asked three times that led and encouraged Peter to complete his life journey, and it was exactly the question the Lord Jesus asked when about to part that brought Peter on the way to be perfected, and caused Peter to care for the Lord’s heart because of loving the Lord, obey the Lord out of love, comfort the Lord out of love, and offer up his whole life and his whole being out of love.
In the Age of Grace, God mainly worked on two kinds of people. The first kind was those who believed in and followed Him and who could keep commandments, bear the cross, and keep the way of the Age of Grace. Such people could receive God’s blessings and enjoy God’s grace. The second kind was those like Peter who were to be perfected. So, after His resurrection, the Lord Jesus first did these two most meaningful things: One was done on Thomas, and the other on Peter. What did these two things represent? Didn’t they represent God’s true will to save man? Didn’t they represent God’s sincerity toward man? The work done on Thomas was to admonish people not to be doubting ones, but just believe. The work done on Peter was to strengthen the faith of such kind of people as Peter and also to make a specific requirement of this kind of people and clearly point out the goal for their pursuit.
After the Lord Jesus resurrected, He appeared and spoke to some men, to whom He thought it was necessary, and He gave them the requirement and left them His will and expectation for man. That is to say, as the incarnate God, whether when He lived in the flesh or in the spiritual body after His crucifixion and resurrection, His concern and requirement for mankind had not changed. Before He went to the cross, He was concerned about those disciples. He was clear about everyone’s state and knew everyone’s lack. His knowledge of everyone after He was resurrected and became the spiritual body was the same with that when He was in the flesh. He knew that people were not completely certain about His identity as the Christ, but when He was in the flesh, He had not made any harsh requirement of man. After He was resurrected, He appeared to men, so that they made one hundred percent certain that He was from God and was the incarnate God. He made His appearing and the fact of His resurrection the greatest vision and motivation for their life-long pursuit. The fact of His resurrection not only strengthened all His followers but had the work of the Age of Grace thoroughly carried out among mankind, and then the gospel of the Lord Jesus’ salvation in the Age of Grace was gradually spread to every corner among mankind. Do you think the appearing of the Lord Jesus after His resurrection was meaningful? If you were Thomas of that time or Peter of that time, and you encountered such a meaningful thing once in your life, what influence would it have on you? Would you take it as the best and greatest vision in your whole life of believing in God? Would you take it as a motivation for you to follow God, pursue to satisfy God, and pursue to love God for your whole life? Would you spend your lifetime energies to spread this greatest vision? Would you take spreading the Lord Jesus’ salvation as your commission from God? Although you have not experienced this thing, the two cases of Thomas and Peter are sufficient for people of the present age to have a clear knowledge of God’s will and of God. It can be said that when God, after being incarnated, had personally experienced the life of the world and personally experienced the life of mankind, and had seen the fall of mankind and seen the situation of mankind’s living, the God in the flesh could more deeply feel mankind’s helplessness and mankind’s pitifulness and poorness, and the God living in the flesh, because of His humanity and the instinct of His flesh, was more considerate for mankind’s situation and thus was more concerned about His followers. You probably cannot understand these, but I can use a phrase “deeply concerned about” to describe the worry and care of the God in the flesh for everyone who follows Him. Although this phrase is from human language and although it is a very human phrase, it can truly express and describe God’s affection for His followers. As for God’s being “deeply concerned about” man, in the course of your experience you will gradually feel it and savor it; but you have to know God’s disposition gradually while pursuing the transformation of your disposition, before you can reach it. The Lord Jesus’ appearing realized and transferred His being “deeply concerned about” His followers in His humanity to His spiritual body or to His divinity. His appearing made man again realize and feel God’s concern and care for man, and at the same time it strongly proved that God is the One who starts an age and opens an age and also the One who ends the age. By His appearing He strengthened everyone’s faith; by His appearing He proved to the world the fact that He is God Himself, so that His followers received a lasting verification; and also by His appearing He made a breakthrough in the work of the new age.
13. Jesus Ate the Bread and Opened the Scriptures to the Men After His Resurrection
(Lk 24:30-32) And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
14. The Disciples Gave Jesus the Broiled Fish to Eat
(Lk 24:36-43) And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the middle of them, and said to them, Peace be to you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said to them, Why are you troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said to them, Have you here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.
Let us now look at the above passages of scripture. The first passage is the account about the Lord Jesus eating the bread and opening the scriptures after His resurrection. The second is the account about the Lord Jesus eating the broiled fish. What help can these two passages bring to your knowing God’s disposition? You may imagine: What picture do these descriptions give you that the Lord Jesus ate the bread and the broiled fish? You may imagine: If the Lord Jesus stands before you and eats bread, what kind of feeling will you have? Or if the Lord Jesus eats at the same table with you, eating fish and bread with you, what kind of feeling will you have then? If you feel very close to the Lord and feel that the Lord is very amiable with man, this feeling is right. This is precisely the result the Lord Jesus wanted to achieve by eating bread and fish before all the men after His resurrection. If the Lord Jesus only talked with men after His resurrection and they could not feel His bones and His flesh but felt He was an unreachable soul, what kind of feeling would they have? Wouldn’t they be disappointed? When they were disappointed, wouldn’t they feel abandoned? Wouldn’t they feel that there was a distance between them and the Lord Jesus Christ? What negative effects would this distance have on the relationship between man and God? Man would definitely feel afraid and not dare to come close to Him. Man would take the attitude of staying at a respectful distance from Him, and thereafter man’s intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ would be cut off and be restored to the relationship between man and the God in heaven before the Age of Grace. The spiritual body that man could not touch or feel would cause man’s feeling of being close to God to disappear, and would also cause the zero-distance intimate relationship the Lord Jesus Christ established with man when in the flesh to exist no longer. Man’s feeling toward the spiritual body was only dreading, shunning, and staring without words, not daring to approach and not daring to communicate and talk with, not to speak of following, trusting, and looking up to. God hated to see that man had this kind of feeling toward Him, and He did not want to see that man shunned Him and stayed away from Him, but He only wanted man to know about Him, come close to Him, and be His dear one. If your dear ones and your children do not know you and dare not come close to you but always shun you when seeing you, and anything you do for them cannot be understood by them, what kind of feeling will you have? Won’t you feel your heart ache? Won’t you be heart-broken? Such is God’s feeling when man shuns Him. So, after His resurrection the Lord Jesus still appeared to men in the image with bones and flesh and ate and drank with men. God regards man as His dear one, and God also wants man to regard Him as the dearest. Only thus can God truly gain man and can man truly love and worship God. Can you understand now My intention of why I extract these two passages of scripture that the Lord Jesus ate the bread and opened the scriptures to men after His resurrection and that the disciples gave the Lord Jesus the broiled fish to eat?
The series of things the Lord Jesus did and the words He said after His resurrection could be said to embody His thoughtful kind intention. He was full of God’s deep affection and profound kindness toward man, full of God’s treasure and meticulous care for the intimate relationship He established with man when in the flesh, and even more full of God’s yearning and expectation for the life of eating and living with His followers when in the flesh. So God did not want man to feel there was a distance between God and man or want man to become distant from God, much less want man to feel that after the Lord Jesus’ resurrection He was no longer the Lord close to man and He was no longer with man, because He had returned to the spiritual realm and returned to the Father whom man could never see or reach. He did not want man to feel that He became different from man in position. When God saw that man wanted to follow Him but stayed at a respectful distance from Him, God’s heart was aching, because it meant that man’s heart was far away from Him, and meant that He could hardly gain man’s heart. So, if He appeared to man in the spiritual body that man could not see or touch, it would again cause a distance between man and God, and at the same time it would make man mistake that the resurrected Christ became great, no longer of the same kind with man, and could not eat at the same table with man again, and that man could never come close to God as man was sinful and filthy. In order to remove these misunderstandings of man, the Lord Jesus did the series of things He often did when in the flesh. Just as the scripture records, “he took bread, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to them,” and He opened the scriptures to them as before. All that the Lord Jesus did made everyone who saw Him feel that the Lord did not change and He was the same Lord Jesus, and that although He was crucified and went through death, yet He was resurrected, He did not leave man, He came back among men, and nothing of His changed. The Son of man standing before men was the same Lord Jesus, and they felt that His conduct and speech were so familiar, He was still full of lovingkindness, grace, and forbearance, and He was the same Lord Jesus who loved man as Himself, and the same Lord Jesus who could forgive man “seventy times seven.” He ate with men and talked with men about the scriptures as before, and more importantly He had blood and flesh as before, being touchable and visible to men. Such a Son of man made men feel close to Him, made men feel assured, and made men have the delight of regaining after losing. At the same time men assuredly and confidently began to rely on and look to this Son of man who could forgive their sins, began to pray in the name of the Lord Jesus without any hesitation, praying to receive grace and blessing from Him, receive peace and joy from Him, and receive care and keeping from Him, and began to heal the sick and drive out demons in the name of the Lord Jesus.
While the Lord Jesus worked in the flesh, most of His followers could not be completely certain about His identity and His words. When He went to the cross, His followers’ attitude toward Him was watching; from the time He was crucified to the time He was brought into the tomb, men’s attitude toward Him was disappointed, and during this, men in their heart already began to doubt and deny the words the Lord Jesus said when in the flesh; when the Lord Jesus came out of the tomb and appeared to the men one after another, most of those who saw Him with their own eyes or heard the news of His resurrection gradually changed from negating to half-believing. Not until the Lord Jesus asked Thomas to put his hand into His side and He broke the bread and ate it and ate the broiled fish before all the men after His resurrection, did men truly accept the fact that the Lord Jesus was the incarnate Christ. It can be said that the spiritual body with bones and flesh standing before men at that time made everyone feel as if awakening from a dream: This Son of man standing before their eyes is the One who exists from everlasting, He is with form and image and with bones and flesh, He has been eating and living with men for long…. At that time, His existence made men feel it so real and so wonderful, feel so pleased and happy, and also filled with deep feelings. And His reappearing made men truly see His humbleness and feel His being close to men and His being concerned about and reluctant to part from men. The short reunion made men who saw the Lord Jesus feel as if a generation had passed. Their heart was comforted which felt lost, perplexed, confused, uneasy, and worried, was full of yearning, and was numb. Men no longer doubted and was no longer disappointed, because they felt that they had hopes and reliance, and that the Son of man standing before them was their permanent rear guard and eternal strong tower and refuge.
Although the Lord Jesus resurrected, His heart and His work did not leave man. He told man by His appearing that in whatever way He existed, He would accompany man anytime and anywhere, walking with man and being with man, and supply and shepherd man anytime and anywhere, and He would be visible and touchable to man anytime and anywhere, making man no longer feel helpless. The Lord Jesus also wanted man to know that living in this world man was not isolated, man had God’s concern and God’s presence, God was man’s permanent support, God was the dear one of every man who followed Him, with Him as the support man would no longer be alone and no longer be helpless, and those who accepted Him as the sin offering would no longer be bound by sin. These works the Lord Jesus did after His resurrection were very small things in man’s eyes, but in My eyes every one of them was so meaningful and so valuable, and was so important and weighty.
Although when the Lord Jesus did the work in the flesh, it was full of hardships and sufferings, He, by appearing in the spiritual body with bones and flesh, completely and perfectly accomplished the work of redeeming mankind through being incarnated that time. He began His ministry in the way of incarnation, and ended His ministry by appearing to men in the incarnate image; He brought the Age of Grace and started the Age of Grace in the identity of Christ, carried out the work of the Age of Grace in the identity of Christ, and strengthened and guided all His followers in the Age of Grace in the identity of Christ. God’s work really can be said to be well begun and well ended, step by step and in a planned way, full of God’s wisdom, God’s almightiness, and God’s wonderful deeds, and full of God’s love and mercy. Of course, the main thread which ran through all God’s works was God’s care for man, and was God’s concern for man which He could hardly give up. In these verses, what manifested in every thing the Lord Jesus did after His resurrection were God’s unchanging expectation and concern for mankind and God’s meticulous care and affection for mankind. These have remained the same up to now. Have you seen them? When you see these, doesn’t your heart unconsciously become close to God? If you were born in that age and the Lord Jesus appeared to you after His resurrection, who was with form and image and was visible to you, and sitting before you He ate bread and fish and opened the scriptures to you and chatted with you, what kind of feeling would you have then? Wouldn’t you feel very happy? Wouldn’t you feel guilty? Wouldn’t your former misunderstanding and shunning and resistance and doubt toward God all disappear? Wouldn’t your relationship with God become somewhat normal?
Through My interpreting these few verses in the Bible, have you found any flaw in God’s disposition? Have you found the slightest mixture in God’s love? Have you seen any craftiness or evil in God’s almightiness and wisdom? Definitely not! Can you say with certainty now that God is holy? Can you say with certainty that God’s pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy are all manifestations of God’s substance and God’s disposition? I hope that what you understand after reading these words will bring help and benefit to your pursuing to be transformed in your disposition and pursuing to fear God. I also hope that the results these words achieve in you will increase with every passing day, so that in the course of your pursuit you will become closer and closer to God and become closer and closer to the standard required by God, and will no longer dislike pursuing the truth and no longer feel it is a troublesome thing and an unnecessary thing to pursue the truth and pursue the transformation of your disposition, but because of the expression of God’s real disposition and the holy substance of God, you will be encouraged to long for light, long for justice, have the will to pursue the truth and pursue to satisfy God’s heart’s desire, and become a man gained by God and become a real man.
Today we have talked about some things God did when incarnated the first time in the Age of Grace. From them we have seen the disposition God expressed and manifested when in the flesh and seen what God has and is in various aspects. What God has and is in these various aspects seem very human, but actually none of the expressions and the manifestations in substance is separated from the disposition of God Himself. Every way and every aspect in which God incarnate expresses God’s disposition in His humanity are inseparable from the substance of God Himself. So, God’s coming to mankind in the way of incarnation is very important, the work He does in the flesh is also very important, and the disposition He expresses and the will He expresses are much more important to everyone who lives in the flesh and everyone who lives in corruption. Can you understand this? After you have understood God’s disposition and what God has and is, have you made any conclusion about how to treat God? About this question, finally I want to give you three admonitions: First, do not test God. No matter how much you understand about God and how much you know about God’s disposition, never test God. Second, do not contend with God for position. No matter what position God gives you, what work God lets you undertake, what duty God uplifts you to perform, and how much you have spent and consecrated for God, never contend with God for position. Third, do not compete against God. No matter whether you can understand or obey what God does on you, what God arranges for you, or what comes upon you from God, never compete against God. If you can do these three things, you will be rather safe, and you will not easily provoke God. That’s all for today.
July 23, 2014
from Continuation of the Word Appears in the Flesh—The Way to Know God I
Thank you for visiting our site! Now, plagues, earthquakes, fires, insect plagues, floods, etc., are occurring frequently around the world. The final disaster prophesied in the Bible is coming. How can we welcome the second coming of Christ, be raptured before God, and gain His protection? Please click the button below to talk with us so that we may find the way.