These several fellowships have had a great impact on every single person. As of now, people can finally really feel the true existence of God and that God is actually very close to them. Although people have believed in God for many years, they have never truly understood His thoughts and ideas as they do now, neither have they truly experienced His practical deeds as they do now. Whether it’s knowledge or actual practice, most people have learned something new and achieved a higher understanding, and they have realized the error in their own past pursuits, realized the superficiality of their experience and that too much is not in line with God’s will, and realized that what man most lacks is knowledge of God’s disposition. This knowledge on the part of people is a type of emotional knowledge; to rise to the level of rational knowledge requires a gradual deepening and strengthening through their experiences. Before man truly understands God, subjectively it could be said that they do believe in the existence of God in their hearts, but they have no real understanding of specific questions such as what kind of God He actually is, what His will is, what His disposition is, and what His real attitude toward mankind is. This greatly compromises people’s faith in God—their faith simply cannot achieve purity or perfection. Even if you are face to face with God’s word, or feel that you have encountered God through your experiences, it still cannot be said that you completely understand Him. Because you don’t know God’s thoughts, or what He loves and what He hates, what makes Him angry and what brings Him joy, you do not have a true understanding of Him. Your faith is built on a foundation of vagueness and imagination, based on your subjective desires. It is still far from an authentic belief, and you are still far from being a true follower. Explanations of the examples from these Bible stories have allowed humans to know God’s heart, what He was thinking at every step in His work and why He did this work, what His original intention and His plan were when He did it, how He achieved His ideas, and how He prepared for and developed His plan. Through these stories, we can gain a detailed, specific understanding of God’s every specific intention and every real thought during His six thousand years of management work, and His attitude toward humans at different times and in different eras. Understanding what God was thinking, what His attitude was, and the disposition He revealed as He faced every situation, can help every person more deeply realize His true existence, and more deeply feel His realness and authenticity. My goal in telling these stories is not so that people can understand biblical history, nor is it to help them become familiar with the books of the Bible or the people in it, and it’s especially not to help people understand the background of what God did during the Age of Law. It is to help people understand God’s will, His disposition, and every little part of Him, and gain a more authentic and more accurate understanding and knowledge of God. This way, people’s hearts can, little by little, open up to God, become close to God, and they can better understand Him, His disposition, His essence, and better know the true God Himself.
Knowledge of God’s disposition and what He has and is can have a positive impact on humans. It can help them have more confidence in God, and help them achieve true obedience and fear for Him. Then, they are no longer blind followers, or worshiping Him blindly. God does not want fools or those who follow a crowd blindly, but a group of people who have in their hearts a clear understanding and knowledge of God’s disposition and can act as God’s witness, people who would never abandon God because of His loveliness, because of what He has and is, and because of His righteous disposition. As a follower of God, if in your heart there is still a lack of clarity, or there is ambiguousness or confusion about God’s true existence, His disposition, what He has and is, and His plan to save mankind, then your faith cannot gain God’s praise. God does not want this type of person to follow Him, and He does not like this type of person coming before Him. Because this kind of person doesn’t understand God, they cannot give their heart to God—their heart is closed to Him, so their faith in God is full of impurities. Their following of God can only be called blind. People can only gain true belief and be true followers if they have true understanding and knowledge of God, which creates true obedience and fear of Him. Only in this way can they give their heart to God, to open it up to Him. This is what God wants, because everything they do and think can withstand God’s test, and can bear witness to God. Everything I communicate with you regarding God’s disposition, or what He has and is, or His will and His thoughts in everything that He does, and from whichever perspective, from whichever angle I talk about it, it is all to help you be more certain of God’s true existence, and more truly understand and appreciate His love for mankind, and more truly understand and appreciate God’s concern for humans, and His sincere desire to manage and save mankind.
Today we’re first going to summarize God’s thoughts, ideas, and every move since creating humans, and to take a look at what work He carried out from creating the world to the official start of the Age of Grace. We can then discover which of God’s thoughts and ideas are unknown to man, and from there we can clarify the order of God’s plan for management, and thoroughly understand the context in which God created His management work, its source and development process, and also thoroughly understand what results He wants from His management work—that is, the core and the purpose of His management work. To understand these things we need to go back to a distant, still and silent time when there were no humans …
When God arose from His bed, the first thought that He had was this: to create a living person, a real, living human—someone to live with and be His constant companion. This person could listen to Him, and God could confide in and speak with him. Then, for the first time, God grabbed a handful of dirt and used it to create the very first living person that He had imagined, and then gave this living creature a name—Adam. Once God had gained this living and breathing person, how did He feel? For the first time, He felt the joy of having a loved one, a companion. He also felt for the first time the responsibility of being a father and the concern that comes along with it. This living and breathing person brought God happiness and joy; He felt comforted for the first time. This was the first thing God had ever done that was not accomplished with His thoughts or even words, but was done with His own two hands. When this kind of being—a living and breathing person—stood in front of God, made of flesh and blood, with body and form, and able to speak with God, He experienced a kind of joy He had never felt before. He truly felt His responsibility and this living being not only tugged at His heart, but his every little move also touched Him and warmed His heart. So when this living being stood in front of God, it was the first time He had the thought to gain more people like this. This was the series of events that began with this first thought that God had. For God, all of these events were occurring for the first time, but in these first events, no matter what He felt at the time—joy, responsibility, concern—there was no one for Him to share it with. Starting from that moment, God truly felt a loneliness and a sadness that He had never had before. He felt that human beings could not accept or comprehend His love and concern, or His intentions for mankind, so He still felt sorrow and pain in His heart. Although He had done these things for man, man was not aware of it and did not understand. Aside from happiness, the joy and comfort man brought to Him quickly brought with it His first feelings of sorrow and loneliness. These were God’s thoughts and feelings at that time. While God was doing all these things, in His heart He went from joy to sorrow and from sorrow to pain, all mixed with anxiety. All He wanted to do was hasten to let this person, this human race know what was in His heart and understand His intentions sooner. Then, they could become His followers and be in accord with Him. They would no longer listen to God speak but remain speechless; they would no longer be unaware of how to join God in His work; above all, they would no longer be people indifferent to God’s requirements. These first things that God completed are very meaningful and hold great value for His management plan and for human beings today.
After creating all things and humans, God did not rest. He could not wait to carry out His management, nor could He wait to gain the people He so loved among mankind.
Next, not long after God created human beings, we see from the Bible that there was a great flood across the entire world. Noah is mentioned in the record of the flood, and it can be said that Noah was the first person to heed God’s call to work with Him to complete a task of God. Of course, this was also the first time God had called upon a person on the earth to do something according to His command. Once Noah finished building the ark, God flooded the earth for the first time. When God destroyed the earth with the flood, it was the first time since creating them that He felt overcome with disgust in human beings; this is what forced God to make the painful decision to destroy this human race through a flood. After the flood destroyed the earth, God made His first covenant with humans that He would never do this again. The sign of this covenant was a rainbow. This was God’s first covenant with mankind, so the rainbow was the first sign of a covenant given by God; this rainbow is a real, physical thing that exists. It is the very existence of this rainbow that makes God often feel sadness for the previous human race He has lost, and serves as a constant reminder for Him of what happened to them. … God would not slow His pace—He could not wait to take the next step in His management. Subsequently, God selected Abraham as His first choice for His work throughout Israel. This was also the first time God selected such a candidate. God resolved to begin carrying out His work of saving mankind through this person, and to continue His work among this person’s descendants. We can see in the Bible that this is what God did to Abraham. God then made Israel the first chosen land, and began His work of the Age of Law through His chosen people, the Israelites. Once again for the first time, God provided to the Israelites the express rules and laws that mankind should follow, and explained them in detail. This was the first time God had provided human beings with such specific, standard rules for how they should give sacrifices, how they should live, what they should do and not do, which festivals and days they should observe, and principles to follow in everything they did. This was the first time God had given mankind such detailed, standard regulations and principles for their lives.
When I say “the first time,” it means God had never completed work like that before. It’s something that didn’t exist before, and even though God had created mankind and He had created all types of creatures and living things, He had never completed that type of work. All of this work involved God’s management of humans; it all had to do with humans and His salvation and management of humans. After Abraham, God made a choice once again for the first time—He chose Job to be the one under the law who could withstand the temptations of Satan while continuing to fear God and shun evil and stand witness for Him. This was also the first time that God allowed Satan to tempt a person, and the first time He made a bet with Satan. In the end, for the first time, God gained someone who was capable of standing witness for Him while facing Satan—a person who could bear witness for Him and thoroughly shame Satan. Since God had created mankind, this was the first person He had gained who was able to bear witness for Him. Once He had gained this man, God was even more eager to continue His management and take the next step in His work, preparing His next choice and His place of work.
After telling you about all of this, do you have a true understanding of God’s will? God sees this instance of management of mankind, of saving humans, as more important than anything else. He does these things not only with His mind, nor is it only with His words, and He particularly does not do it casually—He does all of these things with a plan, with a goal, with standards, and with His will. It is clear that this work to save mankind holds great significance for both God and man. No matter how difficult the work is, no matter how great the obstacles are, no matter how weak humans are, or how deep mankind’s rebelliousness is, none of this is difficult for God. God makes Himself busy, expending His effort and managing the work He Himself wants to carry out. He is also arranging everything, and ruling all the people and the work He wants to complete—none of this has been done before. It is the first time God has used these methods and paid a great price for this major project of managing and saving mankind. While God is carrying out this work, little by little He is expressing to humans without reservation His hard work, what He has and is, His wisdom and almightiness, and every aspect of His disposition. He unreservedly reveals all of this to mankind bit by bit, revealing and expressing these things as He has never done before. So, in the entire universe, aside from the people who God aims to manage and save, there have never been any creatures so close to God, that have such an intimate relationship with Him. In His heart, the mankind He wants to manage and save is most important, and He values this mankind above all else; even though He has paid a great price for them, and even though He is continually hurt and disobeyed by them, He never gives up on them and continues tirelessly in His work, with no complaints or regrets. This is because He knows that sooner or later, humans will someday awaken to His call and be moved by His words, recognize that He is the Lord of creation, and return to His side …
After hearing all of this today, you may feel that everything that God does is very normal. It seems that humans have always felt some of God’s will for them from His words and from His work, but there is always a certain distance between their feelings or their knowledge and what God is thinking. So, I think it is necessary to communicate with all people about why God created humankind, and the background behind His wish to gain the people He hoped for. It is essential to share this with everyone, so that everyone is clear in their heart. Because God’s every thought and idea, and every phase and every period of His work tie into, and are closely linked to, His entire management work, when you understand God’s thoughts, ideas, and His will in every step of His work, it’s the same as understanding the source of the work of His management plan. It is on this foundation that your understanding of God deepens. Although everything God did when He first created the world that I mentioned previously is merely some information to people now and seems to be irrelevant to the pursuit of truth, over the course of your experience there will be a day when you don’t think it’s something so simple as a couple of pieces of information, nor that it’s something so simple as some mysteries. As your life progresses and when there is a little bit of God’s position in your heart, or when you more thoroughly and deeply understand His will, you will truly understand the importance and the necessity of what I’m talking about today. It doesn’t matter to what extent you have accepted this; it is necessary that you understand and know these things. When God does something, when He carries out His work, no matter if it’s with His ideas or His own hands, no matter if it’s the first time He has done it or if it’s the last—ultimately, God has a plan, and His purpose and His thoughts are in everything He does. These purposes and thoughts represent God’s disposition, and they express what He has and is. These two things—God’s disposition and what He has and is—must be understood by every single person. Once a person understands His disposition and what He has and is, they can gradually understand why God does what He does and why He says what He says. From that, they can then have more faith to follow God, to pursue truth, and to pursue a change in disposition. That is to say, man’s understanding of God and his faith in God are inseparable.
Even though what people hear about or gain understanding of is God’s disposition, what He has and is, what they gain is life that comes from God. Once this life has been wrought into you, your fear of God will become greater and greater, and reaping this harvest occurs very naturally. If you don’t want to understand or know about God’s disposition or His essence, if you don’t even want to ponder over or focus on these things, I can tell you with certainty that the way you are currently pursuing your faith in God can never allow you to satisfy His will or gain His praise. More than that, you can never truly reach salvation—these are the final consequences. When people don’t understand God and do not know His disposition, their hearts can never truly open up to Him. Once they have understood God, they will begin to understand and savor what is in His heart with interest and faith. When you understand and savor what is in God’s heart, your heart will gradually, bit by bit, open up to Him. When your heart opens up to Him, you will feel how shameful and contemptible your exchanges with God, your demands of God, and your own extravagant desires were. When your heart truly opens up to God, you will see that His heart is such an infinite world, and you will enter into a realm you have never experienced before. In this realm there is no deception, there is no craftiness, there is no darkness, and no evil. There is only sincerity and faithfulness; only light and rectitude; only righteousness and kindness. It is full of love and care, full of compassion and tolerance, and through it you feel the happiness and joy of being alive. These things are what He will reveal to you when you open up your heart to God. This infinite world is full of God’s wisdom, and full of His omnipotence; it is also full of His love and His authority. Here you can see every aspect of what God has and is, what brings Him joy, why He worries and why He becomes sad, why He becomes angry…. This is what every single person can see who opens up their heart and allows God to come in. God can only come into your heart if you open it up to Him. You can only see what God has and is, and you can only see His will for you, if He has come into your heart. At that time, you will discover that everything about God is so precious, that what He has and is is so worthy of treasuring. Compared to that, the people that surround you, the objects and events in your life, and even your loved ones, your partner, and the things you love, are hardly worth mentioning. They are so small, and so lowly; you will feel that no material object will ever be able to draw you in again, and they cannot get you to pay any price for them again. In God’s humility you will see His greatness and His supremacy; moreover, in something He had done that you believed to be quite small, you will see His infinite wisdom and His tolerance, and you will see His patience, His forbearance, and His understanding of you. This will produce in you a love for Him. On that day, you will feel that mankind is living in such a filthy world, that the people by your side and the things that happen in your life, and even those you love, their love for you, and their so-called protection or their concern for you are not even worth mentioning—only God is your beloved, and it is only God that you treasure the most. When that day comes, I believe that there will be some people who say: God’s love is so great, and His essence is so holy—in God there is no craftiness, no evil, no envy, and no strife, but only righteousness and authenticity, and everything that God has and is should be longed for by humans. Humans should strive for and aspire to it. On what basis is mankind’s ability to achieve this built? It is built on the basis of humans’ understanding of God’s disposition, and their understanding of God’s essence. So understanding God’s disposition and what He has and is, is a lifelong lesson for every person, and it’s a lifelong goal pursued by every person who strives to change their disposition, and strives to know God.
We just talked about all the work that God completed, the series of things He did for the first time. Every one of these things is relevant to God’s plan for management, and to God’s will. They are also relevant to God’s own disposition and His essence. If we want to better understand what God has and is, we can’t stop at the Old Testament or at the Age of Law, but we need to move forward along with the steps God took in His work. So, as God ended the Age of Law and began the Age of Grace, our own steps have come to the Age of Grace—an age full of grace and redemption. In this age, God again did something very important for the first time. The work in this new age for both God and mankind was a new starting point. This new starting point was yet again new work that God did for the first time. This new work was something unprecedented that God carried out that could not be imagined by humans and all creatures. It is something that is now well known to all people—this was the first time God became a human being, the first time He began new work in the form of a man, with the identity of a man. This new work signified that God had completed His work in the Age of Law, that He would no longer do or say anything under the law. Neither would He speak or do anything in the form of the law or according to the principles or rules of the law. That is, all His work based on the law was halted forever and would not be continued, because God wanted to begin new work and do new things, and His plan once again had a new starting point. So, God had to lead mankind into the next age.
Whether this was joyful or ominous news to humans depended on what their essence was. It could be said that this was not joyful news, but it was ominous news to some people, because when God began His new work, those people who just followed the laws and rules, who just followed the doctrines but did not fear God would tend to use God’s old work to condemn His new work. For these people, this was ominous news; but for every person who was innocent and open, who was sincere and faithful to God and willing to receive His redemption, God’s first incarnation was very joyful news. For since there were humans, this was the first time God had appeared and lived among mankind in a form that wasn’t the Spirit; rather, He was born of a human and lived among people as the Son of man, and worked in their midst. This “first time” broke down people’s conceptions and was also beyond all imagination. In addition, all of God’s followers gained a tangible benefit. God not only ended the old age, but He also ended His old working methods and working style. He no longer allowed His messengers to convey His meaning, and He was no longer hidden in the clouds, and no longer appeared or spoke to humans commandingly through “thunder.” Unlike anything before, through a method unimaginable to humans that was difficult for them to understand or accept—becoming flesh—He became the Son of man to develop the work of that age. This step caught mankind by surprise, and it was also very uncomfortable for them, because God had once again started new work that He had never done before. Today, we’ll take a look at what new work God accomplished in the new age, and in all of this new work, what of God’s disposition and what He has and is can we understand?
The following are words recorded in the New Testament of the Bible.
1. (Mat 12:1) 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.
2. (Mat 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’s first take a look at this 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 have we selected this passage? What connection does it have to God’s disposition? In this text, the first thing we know is that it was the Sabbath day, but the Lord Jesus went out and led His disciples through the corn fields. What’s more “outrageous” is that they even “began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.” In the Age of Law, Jehovah God’s laws were that people could not casually go out or take part in activities on the Sabbath—there were many things that could not be done on the Sabbath. This action on the part of the Lord Jesus was puzzling for those who had lived under the law for a long time, and it even provoked criticism. As for their confusion and how they talked about what Jesus did, we will put that aside for now and first discuss why the Lord Jesus chose to do this on the Sabbath, of all days, and what He wanted to communicate to people who were living under the law through this action. This is the connection between this passage and God’s disposition that I want to talk about.
When the Lord Jesus came, He used His practical actions to communicate to people: God had departed the Age of Law and had begun new work, and this new work did not require observation of the Sabbath; when God came out from the confines of the Sabbath day, this was just a foretaste of His new work, and His truly great work was continuing to play out. When the Lord Jesus began His work, He had already left behind the shackles of the Age of Law, and had broken through the regulations and principles from that age. In Him, there was no trace of anything related to the law; He had cast it off entirely and no longer observed it, and He no longer required mankind to observe it. So here you see that the Lord Jesus went through the corn fields on the Sabbath; the Lord did not rest, but was outside working. This action of His was a shock to people’s conceptions and communicated to them that He no longer lived under the law, and that He had left the confines of the Sabbath and appeared in front of mankind and in their midst in a new image, with a new way of working. This action of His told people that He had brought with Him new work that began with going out from the law and going out of the Sabbath. When God carried out His new work, He no longer clung to the past, and He was no longer concerned about the regulations of the Age of Law. Neither was He affected by His work in the previous age, but He worked as usual on the Sabbath and when His disciples were hungry, they could pick ears of corn to eat. This was all very normal in God’s eyes. God could have a new beginning for much of the work that He wants to do and the things that He wants to say. Once He has a new start, He neither mentions His previous work again nor continues it. For God has His principles in His work. When He wants to begin new work, it is when He wants to bring mankind into a new stage of His work, and when His work has entered a higher phase. If people continue to act according to the old sayings or regulations or continue to hold fast to them, He will not commemorate or praise this. This is because He has already brought new work, and has entered a new phase of His work. When He initiates new work, He appears to mankind with a completely new image, from a completely new angle, and in a completely new way so that people can see different aspects of His disposition and what He has and is. This is one of His goals in His new work. God does not hold on to the old or take the beaten path; when He works and speaks it’s not as prohibitive as people imagine. In God, all is free and liberated, and there is no prohibitiveness, no constraints—what He brings to mankind is all freedom and liberation. He is a living God, a God who genuinely, truly exists. He is not a puppet or a clay sculpture, and He is totally different from the idols that people enshrine and worship. He is living and vibrant and what His words and work bring to humans is all life and light, all freedom and liberation, because He holds the truth, the life, and the way—He is not constrained by anything in any of His work. No matter what people say and no matter how they see or assess His new work, He will carry out His work with no qualms. He will not worry about anyone’s conceptions or fingers pointed at His work and words, or even their strong opposition and resistance to His new work. No one among all of creation can use human reason, or human imagination, knowledge, or morality to measure or define what God does, to discredit, or disrupt or sabotage His work. There is no prohibitiveness in His work and what He does, and it will not be constrained by any man, thing, or object, and it will not be disrupted by any hostile forces. In His new work, He is an ever-victorious King, and any hostile forces and all heresies and fallacies from mankind are all trampled under His footstool. No matter which new stage of His work He is carrying out, it must be developed and expanded in mankind’s midst, and it must be carried out unhindered in the entire universe until His great work has been completed. This is God’s almightiness and wisdom, and His authority and power. Thus, the Lord Jesus could openly go out and work on the Sabbath because in His heart there were no rules, and there was no knowledge or doctrine that originated from mankind. What He had was God’s new work and His way, and His work was the way to free mankind, to release them, to allow them to exist in the light, and to allow them to live. And those who worship idols or false gods live every day bound by Satan, restrained by all kinds of rules and taboos—today one thing is prohibited, tomorrow another—there is no freedom in their lives. They are like prisoners in shackles with no joy to speak of. What does “prohibition” represent? It represents constraints, bonds, and evil. As soon as a person worships an idol, they are worshiping a false god, worshiping an evil spirit. Prohibition comes along with that. You can’t eat this or that, today you can’t go out, tomorrow you can’t turn your stove on, the next day you can’t move to a new house, certain days must be selected for weddings and funerals, and even for giving birth to a child. What is this called? This is called prohibition; it is bondage of mankind, and it is the shackles of Satan and evil spirits controlling them, and restraining their hearts and bodies. Do these prohibitions exist with God? When speaking of the holiness of God, you should first think of this: With God there are no prohibitions. God has principles in His words and work, but there are no prohibitions, because God Himself is the truth, the way, and the life.
Now let’s look at the following passage: “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” (Mat 12:6-8). What does “temple” refer to here? To put it simply, “temple” refers to a magnificent, tall building, and in the Age of Law, the temple was a place for priests to worship God. When the Lord Jesus said “in this place is one greater than the temple,” who did “one” refer to? Clearly, “one” is the Lord Jesus in the flesh, because only He was greater than the temple. What did those words tell people? They told people to come out of the temple—God had already come out and was no longer working in it, so people should seek God’s footsteps outside of the temple and follow His steps in His new work. The background of the Lord Jesus saying this was that under the law, people had come to see the temple as something greater than God Himself. That is, people worshiped the temple rather than worshiping God, so the Lord Jesus warned them not to worship idols, but to worship God because He is supreme. Thus, He said: “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” It is evident that in the eyes of the Lord Jesus, most people under the law no longer worshiped Jehovah, but were merely going through the process of sacrificing, and the Lord Jesus determined that this process was “idol worship.” These idol-worshipers saw the temple as something greater, and higher than God. In their hearts there was only the temple, not God, and if they lost the temple, they lost their dwelling place. Without the temple they had nowhere to worship and could not carry out their sacrifices. Their so-called dwelling place is where they operated under the banner of worshiping Jehovah God, allowing them to stay in the temple and carry out their own affairs. Their so-called conducting sacrifices was just to carry out their own personal shameful dealings under the guise of conducting their service in the temple. This was the reason people at that time saw the temple as greater than God. Because they used the temple as a cover, and sacrifices as a guise for cheating people and cheating God, the Lord Jesus said this to warn people. If you apply these words to the present, they are still equally valid and equally pertinent. Although people today have experienced different work of God than people in the Age of Law experienced, the essence of their nature is the same. In the context of the work today, people will still do the same type of things as “the temple is greater than God.” For example, people see fulfilling their duty as their job; they see bearing witness to God and battling the great red dragon as political movements in defense of human rights, for democracy and freedom; they turn their duty to utilize their skills into careers, but they treat fearing God and shunning evil as nothing but a piece of religious doctrine to observe; and so on. Aren’t these expressions on the part of humans essentially the same as “the temple is greater than God”? Except that two thousand years ago, people were carrying out their personal business in the physical temple, but today, people carry out their personal business in intangible temples. Those people that treasure rules see rules as greater than God, those people that love status see status as greater than God, those that love their career see career as greater than God, and so on—all their expressions lead Me to say: “People praise God as the greatest through their words, but through their eyes everything is greater than God.” This is because as soon as people find an opportunity along their path of following God to display their own talents, or to carry out their own business or their own career, they distance themselves from God and throw themselves into the career that they love. As for what God has entrusted to them, and His will, those things have long been discarded. In this scenario, what is different about these people and the ones conducting their own business in the temple two thousand years ago?
Next, let’s take a look at the last sentence in this passage of scripture: “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” Is there a practical side to this sentence? Can you see the practical side of this? Every single thing that God says comes from His heart, so why did He say this? How do you understand it? You may understand the meaning of this sentence now, but at the time not many people did because mankind had just come out of the Age of Law. For them, coming out from the Sabbath was a very difficult thing to do, not to mention understanding what a true Sabbath is.
The sentence “the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” tells people that God’s everything is immaterial, and although God can provide all of your material needs, once all of your material needs have been met, can the satisfaction from these things replace your pursuit of truth? That is clearly not possible! God’s disposition and what He has and is that we have fellowshiped about are both the truth. It cannot be measured with the heavy price of material objects nor can its value be quantified with money, because it is not a material object, and it supplies the needs of each and every person’s heart. For every person, the value of these intangible truths should be greater than the value of any material things you think are nice, right? This statement is something you need to linger over. The key point of what I’ve said is that what God has and is and God’s everything are the most important thing for every single person and it cannot be replaced by any material object. I’ll give you an example: When you’re hungry, you need food. This food can be relatively good or relatively lacking, but as long as you have your fill, that unpleasant feeling of being hungry will no longer be there—it will be gone. You can sit there in peace, and your body will be at rest. People’s hunger can be resolved with food, but when you’re following God and feel that you have no understanding of Him, how can you resolve the emptiness in your heart? Can it be resolved with food? Or when you’re following God and don’t understand His will, what can you use to make up for that hunger in your heart? In the process of your experience of salvation through God, while pursuing a change in your disposition, if you don’t understand His will or don’t know what the truth is, if you don’t understand God’s disposition, don’t you feel very uneasy? Don’t you feel a strong hunger and thirst in your heart? Don’t these feelings prevent you from feeling peace in your heart? So how can you make up for that hunger in your heart—is there a way to resolve it? Some people go shopping, some find their friends to confide in, some people sleep their fill, others read more of God’s words, or they work harder and expend more effort to fulfill their duties. Can these things resolve your actual difficulties? All of you fully understand these kinds of practices. When you feel powerless, when you feel a strong desire to gain enlightenment from God to allow you to know the reality of truth and His will, what do you need most? What you need isn’t a full meal, and it’s not a few kind words. More than that, it’s not the transient comfort and satisfaction of the flesh—what you need is for God to directly, clearly tell you what you should do and how you should do it, to clearly tell you what the truth is. After you’ve understood this, even if it’s just a tiny bit, don’t you feel more satisfied in your heart than if you had eaten a good meal? When your heart is satisfied, doesn’t your heart, your whole person, gain true peace? Through this analogy and analysis, do you understand now why I wanted to share with you this sentence, “the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day”? Its meaning is that what comes from God, what He has and is, and His everything are greater than any other thing, including the thing or the person you once believed you treasured most. That is to say, if a person cannot have words from the mouth of God or they do not understand His will, they cannot gain peace. In your future experiences, you will understand why I wanted you to see this passage today—this is very important. Everything that God does is truth and life. The truth for mankind is something that they cannot lack in their lives, that they can never do without; you could also say that it’s the greatest thing. Although you can’t look at it or touch it, its importance to you cannot be ignored; it is the only thing that can bring peace to your heart.
Is your understanding of truth integrated with your own situation? In real life, you first have to think of which truths relate to the people, things, and objects you have encountered; it is among these truths that you can find God’s will and connect what you have encountered with His will. If you don’t know which aspects of the truth relate to the things you’ve encountered but go to directly seek God’s will, this approach is fairly blind and cannot achieve results. If you want to seek the truth and understand God’s will, first you need to look at what kind of things have come upon you, which aspects of the truth they are related to, and look for truth in the word of God that relates to what you have experienced. Then you look for the path of practice right for you in that truth; this way you can gain an indirect understanding of God’s will. Searching for and practicing the truth is not mechanically applying a doctrine or following a formula. The truth is not formulaic, neither is it a law. It’s not dead—it’s life, it’s a living thing, and it’s the rule that a creature must follow during their years on earth and the rule a human must have in their life. This is something that you must understand more from experience. No matter what stage you have arrived at in your experience, you are inseparable from God’s word or the truth, and what you understand of God’s disposition and what you know of what God has and is are all expressed in God’s words; they are inextricably linked with the truth. God’s disposition and what He has and is themselves are the truth; the truth is an authentic manifestation of God’s disposition and what He has and is. It makes what God has and is concrete and expressly states it; it tells you more straightforwardly what God likes, what He doesn’t like, what He wants you to do and what He does not permit you to do, what people He despises and what people He delights in. Behind the truths that God expresses people can see His pleasure, anger, sorrow, and happiness, as well as His essence—this is the revealing of His disposition. Aside from knowing what God has and is, and understanding His disposition from His word, what is most important is the need to reach this understanding through practical experience. If a person removes themselves from real life in order to know God, they will not be able to achieve that. Even if there are people who can gain some understanding from the word of God, it is limited to theories and words, and there is a disparity with what God is really like.
What we’re communicating about now is all within the scope of the stories recorded in the Bible. Through these stories, and through analyzing these things that happened, people can understand His disposition and what He has and is that He has expressed, allowing them to know every aspect of God more broadly, more deeply, more comprehensively, and more thoroughly. So, is the only way to know every aspect of God through these stories? No, it’s not! For what God says and the work He does in the Age of Kingdom can better help people know His disposition, and know it more fully. However, I think it’s a bit easier to know God’s disposition and to understand what He has and is through some examples or stories recorded in the Bible that people are familiar with. If I take the words of judgment and chastisement and the truths that God expresses today to get you to know Him word for word, you’ll feel it’s too dull and too tedious, and some people will even feel that God’s words seem to be formulaic. But if we take these Bible stories as examples to help people know God’s disposition, they won’t find it boring. You could say that in the course of explaining these examples, the details of what was in God’s heart at the time—His mood or sentiment, or His thoughts and ideas—have been told to people in human language, and the goal of all this is to allow them to appreciate, to feel that what God has and is is not a formula. It is not a legend, or something that people can’t see or touch. It is something that truly exists that people can feel, and can appreciate. This is the ultimate goal. You could say that people living in this age are blessed. They can draw on Bible stories to gain a broader understanding of God’s previous work; they can see His disposition through the work that He has done. And they can understand God’s will for mankind through these dispositions that He has expressed, understand the concrete manifestations of His holiness and His care for humans in order to reach a more detailed and deeper knowledge of God’s disposition. I believe that all of you can feel this!
Within the scope of the work that the Lord Jesus completed in the Age of Grace, you can see another aspect of what God has and is. It was expressed through His flesh, and it was made possible for people to see and appreciate through His humanity. In the Son of man, people saw how God in the flesh lived out His humanity, and they saw God’s divinity expressed through the flesh. These two types of expression allowed people to see a very real God, and allowed them to form a different concept of God. However, in the period of time between the creation of the world and the end of the Age of Law, that is, before the Age of Grace, what was seen, heard, and experienced by the people was only God’s divine aspect. It was what God did and said in an intangible realm, and the things that He expressed from His real person that could not be seen or touched. Often, these things made people feel that God was so great, and that they could not get close to Him. The impression God usually gave people was that He flickered in and out, and people even felt that every single one of His thoughts and ideas was so mysterious and so elusive that there was no way to reach them, much less even attempt to understand and appreciate them. For people, everything about God was very distant—so distant that people could not see it, could not touch it. It seemed He was up in the sky, and it seemed He didn’t exist at all. So for people, understanding God’s heart and mind or any of His thinking was unachievable, and even unreachable. Even though God performed some concrete work in the Age of Law, and He also issued some specific words and expressed some specific dispositions to allow people to appreciate and to see some real knowledge of Him, yet in the end, that was God’s expression of what He has and is in an intangible realm, and what people understood, what they knew was still of the divine aspect of what He has and is. Mankind could not gain a concrete concept from this expression of[a] what He has and is, and their impression of God was still stuck within the scope of “a Spirit that is hard to get close to, that flickers in and out.” Because God didn’t use a specific object or an image in the material realm to appear to people, they still couldn’t define Him using human language. In people’s hearts and minds, they always wanted to use their own language to establish a standard for God, to make Him tangible and humanize Him, such as how tall He is, how big He is, what He looks like, what He particularly likes and what His specific personality is. Actually, in His heart God knew that people thought this way. He was very clear on people’s needs, and of course He also knew what He should do, so He carried out His work in a different way in the Age of Grace. This way was both divine and humanized. In the period of time that the Lord Jesus was working, people could see that God had many human expressions. For example, He could dance, He could attend weddings, He could commune with people, speak with them, and discuss things with them. In addition to that, the Lord Jesus also completed a lot of work that represented His divinity, and of course all of this work was an expression and a revealing of God’s disposition. During this time, when God’s divinity was realized in an ordinary flesh that people could see and touch, they no longer felt that He was flickering in and out, that they could not get close to Him. On the contrary, they could try to grasp the will of God or understand His divinity through the every movement, the words, and the work of the Son of man. The incarnate Son of man expressed God’s divinity through His humanity and conveyed the will of God to mankind. And through the expression of God’s will and disposition, He also revealed to people the God that cannot be seen or touched in the spiritual realm. What people saw was God Himself, tangible and with flesh and bones. So the incarnate Son of man made things such as God’s own identity, status, image, disposition, and what He has and is concrete and humanized. Even though the external appearance of the Son of man had some limitations regarding the image of God, His essence and what He has and is were entirely able to represent God’s own identity and status—there were merely some differences in the form of expression. No matter whether it’s the Son of man’s humanity or His divinity, we cannot deny that He represented God’s own identity and status. During this time, however, God worked through the flesh, spoke from the perspective of the flesh, and stood in front of mankind with the identity and status of the Son of man, and this gave people the opportunity to encounter and experience the true words and work of God among mankind. It also allowed people insight into His divinity and His greatness in the midst of humility, as well as to gain a preliminary understanding and a preliminary definition of the authenticity and the reality of God. Even though the work completed by the Lord Jesus, His ways of working, and the perspective from which He spoke differed from God’s real person in the spiritual realm, everything about Him truly represented God Himself that humans had never seen before—this cannot be denied! That is to say, no matter in what form God appears, no matter from which perspective He speaks, or in what image He faces mankind, God represents nothing but Himself. He cannot represent any human—He cannot represent any corrupt human. God is God Himself, and this cannot be denied.
Next we’ll take a look at a parable told by the Lord Jesus in the Age of Grace.
3. The Parable of the Lost Sheep
(Mat 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 metaphor—what kind of feeling do you get from this passage? The way this metaphor is expressed utilizes a figure of speech in human language; it’s something within the scope of human knowledge. If God had said something similar in the Age of Law, people would have felt that it wasn’t really consistent with who God was, but when the Son of man delivered this passage in the Age of Grace, it felt comforting, warm, and intimate to people. When God became flesh, when He appeared in the form of a man, He used a very appropriate metaphor to express His voice in humanity. This voice represented God’s own voice and the work He wanted to do in that age. It also represented an attitude that God had toward people in the Age of Grace. Looking from the perspective of God’s attitude toward people, He compared each person to a sheep. If a sheep is lost, He will do whatever it takes to find it. This represents a principle of God’s work among mankind this time in the flesh. God used this parable to describe His resolve and attitude in that work. This was the advantage of God becoming flesh: He could take advantage of mankind’s knowledge and use human language to speak to people, to express His will. He explained or “translated” to man His profound, divine language that people struggled to understand in human language, in a human way. This helped people understand His will and know what He wanted to do. He could also have conversations with people from the human perspective, using human language, and communicate with people in a way they understood. He could even speak and work using human language and knowledge so that people could feel God’s kindness and closeness, so that they could see His heart. What do you see in this? That there is no prohibitiveness in God’s words and actions? The way people see it, there’s no way that God could use human knowledge, language, or ways of speaking to talk about what God Himself wanted to say, the work He wanted to do, or to express His own will; this is erroneous thinking. God used this type of metaphor so that people could feel the realness and the sincerity of God, and see His attitude toward people during that time period. This parable awakened people from a dream who had been living under the law for a long time, and it also inspired generation after generation of people living in the Age of Grace. By reading the passage of this parable, people know God’s sincerity in saving mankind and understand mankind’s weight in His heart.
Let’s take another look at the last sentence 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 the Lord Jesus’ own words, or the words of His Father in heaven? On the surface, it looks like it’s the Lord Jesus that’s speaking, but His will represents the will of God Himself, which is why He said: “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” People at that time only acknowledged the Father in heaven as God, and this person that they saw in front of their eyes was merely sent by Him, and He could not represent the Father in heaven. That’s why the Lord Jesus had to say that as well, so that they could really feel God’s will for mankind, and feel the authenticity and the accuracy of what He said. Even though this was a simple thing to say, it was very caring and it revealed the Lord Jesus’ humility and hiddenness. No matter whether God became flesh or He worked in the spiritual realm, He knew the human heart best, and best understood what people needed, knew what people worried about, and what confused them, so He added this one line. This line highlighted a problem hidden in mankind: People were skeptical of what the Son of man said, which is to say, when the Lord Jesus was speaking He had to add: “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” Only on this premise could His words bear fruit, to make people believe their accuracy and improve their credibility. This shows that when God became a regular Son of man, God and mankind had a very awkward relationship, and that the Son of man’s situation was very embarrassing. It also shows how insignificant the Lord Jesus’ status among humans was at that time. When He said this, it was actually to tell people: You can rest assured—this doesn’t represent what’s in My own heart, but it is the will of the God who is in your hearts. For mankind, wasn’t this an ironic thing? Even though God working in the flesh had many advantages that He did not have in His person, He had to withstand their doubts and rejection as well as their numbness and dullness. It could be said that the process of the work of the Son of man was the process of experiencing mankind’s rejection, and the process of experiencing mankind competing against Him. More than that, it was the process of working to continuously win mankind’s trust and conquer mankind through what He has and is, through His own essence. It was not so much that God incarnate was waging an on-the-ground war against Satan; it was more that God became an ordinary man and began a struggle with those who follow Him, and in this struggle the Son of man completed His work with His humility, with what He has and is, with His love and wisdom. He obtained the people He wanted, won the identity and status He deserved, and returned to His throne.
Next, let’s look at the following two passages of scripture.
4. Forgive Seventy Times Seven
(Mat 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 Lord’s Love
(Mat 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, one speaks of forgiveness and the other speaks of love. These two topics really highlight the work the Lord Jesus wanted to carry out in the Age of Grace.
When God became flesh, He brought along with that a stage of His work—He brought along the specific work of this age and the disposition He wanted to express. In that period, everything that the Son of man did revolved around the work that God wanted to carry out in this age. He would do no more and no less. Every single thing He said and every type of work that He carried out was all related to this age. Regardless of whether He expressed it in a human way with human language or through divine language—no matter which way, or from which perspective—His goal was to help people understand what He wanted to do, what His will was, and what His requirements of people were. He might use various means from different perspectives to help people understand and know His will, understand His work of saving mankind. So in the Age of Grace we see the Lord Jesus frequently using human language to express what He wanted to communicate with mankind. Even more, we see Him from the perspective of an ordinary guide speaking with people, supplying their needs, helping them with what they had requested. This way of working was not seen in the Age of Law that came before the Age of Grace. He became more intimate and more compassionate with mankind, as well as more able to achieve practical results in both form and manner. The expression to forgive people “seventy times seven” really clarifies this point. The purpose achieved by the number in this expression is to allow people to understand the Lord Jesus’ intention at the time that He said this. His intention was that people should forgive others—not once or twice, and not even seven times, but seventy times seven. What kind of idea is this “seventy times seven”? It is to get people to make forgiveness their own responsibility, something they must learn, and a way they must keep. Even though this was just an expression, it served as a crucial point. It helped people deeply appreciate what He meant and find the proper ways of practice and the principles and standards in practice. This expression helped people understand clearly and gave them an accurate concept that they should learn forgiveness—to forgive without conditions and without limitations, but with an attitude of tolerance and understanding for others. When the Lord Jesus said this, what was in His heart? Was He really thinking of seventy times seven? He wasn’t. Is there a number of times God will forgive man? There are many people who are very interested in the “number of times” mentioned, who really want to understand the origin and the meaning of this number. They want to understand why this number came out of the Lord Jesus’ mouth; they believe that there is a deeper implication to this number. In fact, this was just God’s expression in humanity. Any implication or meaning must be taken along with the Lord Jesus’ requirements for mankind. When God had not become flesh, people did not understand much of what He said because it came out of complete divinity. The perspective and context of what He said was invisible and unreachable to mankind; it was expressed from a spiritual realm that people could not see. For people who lived in the flesh, they could not pass through the spiritual realm. But after God became flesh, He spoke to mankind from the perspective of humanity, and this dialogue came out of and surpassed the scope of the spiritual realm. He could express His divine disposition, will, and attitude, through things humans could imagine and things they saw and encountered in their lives, and using methods that humans could accept, in a language they could understand, and knowledge they could grasp, to allow mankind to understand and to know God, to comprehend His meaning and His required standards within the scope of their capacity, to the degree that they were able. This was the method and principle of God’s work in humanity. Even though God’s ways and His principles of working in the flesh were mostly achieved by or through humanity, it truly did achieve results that could not be achieved by working directly in divinity. God’s work in humanity was more concrete, authentic, and targeted, the methods were much more flexible, and in form it surpassed the Age of Law.
Below, let’s talk about loving the Lord and loving your neighbor as yourself. Is this something that’s directly expressed in divinity? Clearly not! These were all things that the Son of man said in humanity; only people would say something like “Love your neighbor as yourself. Loving others is the same as cherishing your own life,” and only people would speak in this manner. God has never spoken that way. At the very least, God does not have this type of language in His divinity because He doesn’t need this kind of tenet, “Love your neighbor as yourself” to regulate His love for mankind, because God’s love for mankind is a natural revealing of what He has and is. When have you ever heard that God said anything like “I love mankind as I love Myself”? Because love is in God’s essence, and in what He has and is. God’s love for mankind and the way He treats people and His attitude are a natural expression and revealing of His disposition. He does not need to deliberately do this a certain way, or deliberately follow a certain method or a moral code to achieve loving His neighbor as Himself—He already possesses this type of essence. What do you see in this? When God worked in humanity, many of His methods, words, and truths were all expressed in a human way. But at the same time God’s disposition, what He has and is, and His will were expressed for people to know and understand them. What they knew and understood was exactly His essence and what He has and is, which represent the inherent identity and status of God Himself. That is to say, the Son of man in the flesh expressed the inherent disposition and essence of God Himself to the greatest extent possible and as accurately as possible. Not only was the Son of man’s humanity not a hindrance or a barrier to man’s communication and interaction with God in heaven, but it was actually the only channel and the only bridge for mankind to connect to the Lord of creation. At this point, don’t you feel that there are many similarities between the nature and methods of the work done by the Lord Jesus in the Age of Grace and the current stage of work? This current stage of work also uses a lot of human language to express God’s disposition, and it uses a lot of language and methods from mankind’s daily life and human knowledge to express God’s own will. Once God becomes flesh, no matter if He is speaking from a human perspective or a divine perspective, much of His language and methods of expression are all through the medium of human language and methods. That is, when God becomes flesh, it is the best opportunity for you to see God’s omnipotence and His wisdom, and to know every real aspect of God. When God became flesh, while He was growing up, He came to understand, learn, and grasp some of mankind’s knowledge, common sense, language, and methods of expression in humanity. God incarnate possessed these things that came from the humans that He had created. They became tools of God in the flesh for expressing His disposition and His divinity, and allowed Him to make His work more pertinent, more authentic, and more accurate when He was working amidst mankind, from a human perspective and using human language. It made it more accessible and more easily understood for people, thus achieving the results that God wanted. Isn’t it more practical for God to work in the flesh this way? Isn’t it God’s wisdom? When God became flesh, when God’s flesh was able to take on the work that He wanted to carry out, it is when He would express His disposition and His work on the ground, and this was also the time that He could officially begin His ministry as the Son of man. This meant that there was no longer a gulf between God and man, that God would soon cease His work of communicating through messengers, and that God Himself could personally express all the words and work in the flesh that He wanted to. It also meant that the people God saves were closer to Him, and that His management work had entered new territory, and that all of mankind was about to be faced with a new era.
Everyone who has read the Bible knows that many things happened when the Lord Jesus was born. The greatest among those was being hunted by the Devil, even to the point of all the children two years old and under in that area being slaughtered. It is evident that God assumed great risk by becoming flesh among humans; the great price that He paid for completing His management of saving mankind is also evident. The great hopes that God held for His work among mankind in the flesh are also evident. When God’s flesh was able to take on the work among mankind, how was He feeling? People should be able to understand that a bit, right? At the very least, God was happy because He could start developing His new work among mankind. When the Lord Jesus was baptized and officially began His work to fulfill His ministry, God’s heart was overwhelmed with joy because after so many years of waiting and preparation, He could finally wear the flesh of an average man and begin His new work in the form of a man of flesh and blood that people could see and touch. He could finally speak face-to-face and heart-to-heart with people through the identity of a man. God could finally be face to face with mankind in human language, in a human way; He could provide for mankind, enlighten them, and help them using human language; He could eat at the same table and live in the same space with them. He could also see human beings, see things, and see everything the way humans did and even through their own eyes. For God, this was already His first victory of His work in the flesh. It could also be said that it was an accomplishment of a great work—this of course was what God was happiest about. Starting then was the first time that God felt a sort of comfort in His work among mankind. All of these events were so practical and so natural, and the comfort that God felt was so authentic. For mankind, each time a new stage of God’s work is accomplished, and each time God feels gratified, is when mankind can come closer to God, and when people can draw nearer to salvation. To God, this is also the launch of His new work, when His management plan progresses one step further, and, moreover, when His will approaches complete accomplishment. For mankind, the arrival of such an opportunity is fortunate, and very good; for all those who await God’s salvation, it is momentous news. When God carries out a new stage of work, then He has a new beginning, and when this new work and new beginning are launched and introduced among mankind, it is when the outcome of this stage of work has already been determined, and it has been accomplished, and God has already seen its final effects and fruit. This is also when these effects make God feel satisfied, and His heart, of course, is happy. Because, in God’s eyes, He has already seen and determined the people He is looking for, and has already acquired this group, a group that is able to make His work successful and bring Him satisfaction, God feels reassured, He puts aside His worries, and He feels happy. In other words, when the flesh of God is able to embark upon new work among man, and He begins to do the work He must do without obstruction, and when He feels that all has been accomplished, He has already seen the end. And because of this end He is satisfied, and of a happy heart. How is God’s happiness expressed? Can you imagine that? Would God cry? Can God cry? Can God clap His hands? Can God dance? Can God sing? What would that song be? Of course God could sing a beautiful, moving song, a song that could express the joy and happiness in His heart. He could sing it for mankind, sing it for Himself, and sing it for all things. God’s happiness can be expressed in any way—all of this is normal because God has joys and sorrows, and His various feelings can be expressed in various ways. This is His right and it is the most normal thing. You should not think anything else of it, and you should not project your own inhibitions onto God, telling Him He shouldn’t do this or that, He shouldn’t act this way or that, to limit His happiness or any feeling He has. In people’s hearts God can’t be happy, He can’t shed tears, He can’t weep—He can’t express any emotion. Through what we have communicated these two times, I believe you will no longer see God this way, but will allow God to have some freedom and release. This is a very good thing. In the future if you are able to truly feel God’s sadness when you hear about Him being sad, and you are able to truly feel His happiness when you hear about Him being happy—at the least, you are able to clearly know and understand what makes God happy and what makes Him sad—when you are able to feel sad because God is sad, and feel happy because God is happy, He will have fully gained your heart and there will no longer be any barrier with Him. You will no longer try to constrain God with human imagination, conceptions, and knowledge. At that time, God will be alive and vivid in your heart. He will be the God of your life and the Master of everything of you. Do you have this kind of aspiration? Do you have confidence you can achieve this?
Next let’s read the following passages.
6. The Sermon on the Mount
1) The Beatitudes (Mat 5:3-12)
2) Salt and Light (Mat 5:13-16)
3) Law (Mat 5:17-20)
4) Anger (Mat 5:21-26)
5) Adultery (Mat 5:27-30)
6) Divorce (Mat 5:31-32)
7) Vows (Mat 5:33-37)
8) Eye for Eye (Mat 5:38-42)
9) Love Your Enemies (Mat 5:43-48)
10) Instruction About Giving (Mat 6:1-4)
11) Prayer (Mat 6:5-8)
7. The Parables of the Lord Jesus
1) The Parable of the Sower (Mat 13:1-9)
2) The Parable of the Tares (Mat 13:24-30)
3) The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mat 13:31-32)
4) The Parable of the Leaven (Mat 13:33)
5) The Parable of the Tares Explained (Mat 13:36-43)
6) The Parable of the Treasure (Mat 13:44)
7) The Parable of the Pearl (Mat 13:45-46)
8) The Parable of the Net (Mat 13:47-50)
8. The Commandments
(Mat 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 each part of “The Sermon on the Mount.” What are all of these related to? It can be said with certainty that these are all more elevated, more concrete, and closer to people’s lives than the regulations of the Age of Law. To speak in modern terms, it’s more relevant to people’s actual practice.
Let’s read the specific content of the following: How should you understand the beatitudes? What should you know about the law? How should anger be defined? How should adulterers be dealt with? What is said, and what kind of rules are there about divorce, and who can get divorced and who cannot get divorced? How about vows, eye for eye, love your enemies, instruction about giving, etc.? All of these things have to do with every aspect of the practice of mankind’s belief in God, and of their following God. Some of these practices are still relevant today, but they are more rudimentary than the current requirements of people. They are fairly elementary truths people encounter in their belief in God. From the time the Lord Jesus began working, He was already beginning to work on the life disposition of humans, but it was based on the foundation of the laws. Did the rules and the sayings on these topics have anything to do with the truth? Of course they did! All of the previous regulations, principles, and the sermon in the Age of Grace were all related to God’s disposition and what He has and is, and of course to the truth. No matter what God expresses, in what way He expresses it, or using what kind of language, its foundation, its origin, and its starting point are all based on the principles of His disposition and what He has and is. This is without error. So even though now these things He said seem a little shallow, you still can’t say that they’re not the truth, because they were things that were indispensable for people in the Age of Grace in order to satisfy God’s will and to achieve a change in their life disposition. Can you say that any of the things in the sermon are not in line with the truth? You can’t! Each one of these is the truth because they were all God’s requirements for mankind; they were all principles and a scope given by God for how to conduct oneself, and they represent God’s disposition. However, based on the level of their growth in life of that time, they were only able to accept and comprehend these things. Because mankind’s sin had not yet been resolved, the Lord Jesus could only issue these words, and He could only utilize such simple teachings within this kind of scope to tell the people of that time how they should act, what they should do, within what principles and scope they should do things, and how they should believe in God and meet His requirements. All of this was determined based on the stature of mankind at that time. It was not easy for people living under the law to accept these teachings, so what the Lord Jesus taught had to stay within this scope.
Next, let’s take a look at what’s in “The Parables of the Lord Jesus.”
The first one is the parable of the sower. This is a really interesting parable; sowing seeds is a common event in people’s lives. The second is the parable of the tares. As far as what tares are, anyone who has planted crops and adults will know. The third is the parable of the mustard seed. All of you know what mustard is, right? If you don’t know, you can have a look through the Bible. For the fourth one, the parable of the leaven, most people know that leaven is used for fermentation; it’s something that people use in their daily lives. All of the parables below, including the sixth, the parable of the treasure, the seventh, the parable of the pearl, and the eighth, the parable of the net, are all drawn from people’s lives; they all come from people’s real lives. What kind of picture do these parables paint? This is a picture of God becoming a normal person and living alongside mankind, using the language of a normal life, using human language to communicate with humans and to provide them with what they need. When God became flesh and lived among mankind for a long time, after He had experienced and witnessed people’s various lifestyles, these experiences became His textbook for transforming His divine language into human language. Of course, these things that He saw and heard in life also enriched the Son of man’s human experience. When He wanted to get people to understand some truths, to get them to understand some of God’s will, He could use parables similar to the ones above to tell people about God’s will and His requirements of mankind. These parables were all related to people’s lives; there was not a single one that was out of touch with human lives. When the Lord Jesus lived with mankind, He saw farmers tending their fields, He knew what tares were and what leavening was; He understood that humans like treasure, so He used the metaphors of both the treasure and the pearl; He frequently saw fishermen casting their nets; and so on. The Lord Jesus saw these activities in mankind’s lives, and He also experienced that type of life. He was the same as every other normal person, experiencing humans’ three meals a day and daily routines. He personally experienced the life of an average person, and He witnessed the lives of others. When He witnessed and personally experienced all of this, what He thought of wasn’t how to have a good life or how He could live more freely, more comfortably. When He was experiencing an authentic human life, the Lord Jesus saw the hardship in people’s lives, He saw the hardship, the wretchedness, and the sadness of people under the corruption of Satan, living under the domain of Satan, and living in sin. While He was personally experiencing human life, He also experienced how helpless people were who were living amongst corruption, and He saw and experienced the misery of those who lived in sin, who were lost in the torture by Satan, by evil. When the Lord Jesus saw these things, did He see them with His divinity or His humanity? His humanity really existed—it was very much alive—He could experience and see all of this, and of course His essence, His divinity saw it as well. That is, Christ Himself, the Lord Jesus the man saw this, and everything He saw made Him feel the importance and the necessity of the work He had taken on this time in the flesh. Even though He Himself knew that the responsibility He needed to take on in the flesh was so immense, and how cruel the pain He would face would be, when He saw mankind helpless in sin, when He saw the wretchedness of their lives and their feeble struggles under the law, He felt more and more grief, and became more and more anxious to save mankind from sin. No matter what kind of difficulties He would face or what kind of pain He would suffer, He became more and more resolute to redeem mankind living in sin. During this process, you could say that the Lord Jesus began to understand more and more clearly the work He needed to do and what He had been entrusted with. He also became increasingly eager to complete the work He was to take on—to take on all of mankind’s sins, to atone for mankind so that they no longer lived in sin and God would be able to forget man’s sins because of the sin offering, allowing Him to further His work of saving mankind. It could be said that in the Lord Jesus’ heart, He was willing to offer Himself up for mankind, to sacrifice Himself. He was also willing to act as a sin offering, to be nailed to the cross, and He was eager to complete this work. When He saw the miserable conditions of human’s lives, He wanted even more to fulfill His mission as quickly as possible, without the delay of a single minute or second. When He had such a feeling of urgency, He was not thinking of how great His own pain would be, nor did He think any longer of how much humiliation He would have to endure—He held just one conviction in His heart: As long as He offered up Himself, as long as He was nailed to the cross as a sin offering, God’s will would prevail and He would be able to commence new work. Mankind’s lives in sin, their state of existing in sin would be completely changed. His conviction and what He was determined to do were related to saving man, and He had only one objective: to carry out God’s will, so that He could successfully begin the next step in His work. This was what was in the Lord Jesus’ mind at the time.
Living in the flesh, the incarnate God possessed normal humanity; He had the emotions and the reasoning of a normal person. He knew what happiness was, what pain was, and when He saw mankind in this type of life, He deeply felt that merely giving people some teachings, providing them with something or teaching them something could not lead them out from sin. Neither could just having them obey the commandments redeem them from sin—only when He took on humanity’s sin and became the likeness of sinful flesh could He exchange it for mankind’s freedom, and exchange it for God’s forgiveness for mankind. So after the Lord Jesus had experienced and witnessed men’s lives in sin, there was an intense desire that manifested in His heart—to allow humans to rid themselves of their lives of struggling in sin. This desire made Him feel more and more that He must go to the cross and take on humanity’s sins as soon as possible, as quickly as possible. These were the thoughts of the Lord Jesus at that time, after He had lived with people and seen, heard, and felt the misery of their lives in sin. That the incarnate God could have this kind of will for mankind, that He could express and reveal this kind of disposition—is this something an average person could have? What would an average person see living in this type of environment? What would they think? If an average person faced all of this, would they look at problems from a high perspective? Definitely not! Although the appearance of God incarnate is exactly the same as a human, He learns human knowledge and speaks human language, and sometimes He even expresses His ideas through mankind’s means or expressions, the way He sees humans, the essence of things, and the way corrupt people see mankind and the essence of things are absolutely not the same. His perspective and the height at which He stands is something unattainable for a corrupt person. This is because God is truth, the flesh that He wears also possesses the essence of God, and His thoughts and that which is expressed by His humanity are also the truth. For corrupt people, what He expresses in the flesh is all a provision of the truth, and of life. These provisions are not just for one person, but for all of mankind. For any corrupt person, in his heart there are only those few people who are associated with him. There are only those several people who he cares about, who he is concerned about. When disaster is on the horizon he first thinks of his own children, spouse, or parents, and a more philanthropic person would at most think of some relative or a good friend; does he think of more? Not ever! Because humans are, after all, humans, and they can only look at everything from the perspective and from the height of a person. However, God incarnate is entirely different from a corrupt person. No matter how ordinary, how normal, how lowly God’s incarnate flesh is, or even how much people look down on Him, His thoughts and His attitude toward mankind are things that no man could possess, and no man could imitate. He will always observe mankind from the perspective of divinity, from the height of His position as the Creator. He will always see mankind through the essence and the mindset of God. He absolutely cannot see mankind from the height of an average person, and from the perspective of a corrupt person. When people look at mankind, they look with human vision, and they use things such as human knowledge and human rules and theories as a measure. This is within the scope of what people can see with their eyes; it’s within the scope that corrupt people can achieve. When God looks at mankind, He looks with divine vision, and He uses His essence and what He has and is as a measure. This scope includes things that people cannot see, and this is where God incarnate and corrupt humans are entirely different. This difference is determined by humans’ and God’s different essences, and it is these different essences that determine their identities and positions as well as the perspective and height from which they see things. Do you see the expression and revealing of God Himself in the Lord Jesus? You could say that what the Lord Jesus did and said was related to His ministry and to God’s own management work, that it was all the expression and revealing of God’s essence. Although He did have a human manifestation, His divine essence and the revealing of His divinity cannot be denied. Was this human manifestation truly a manifestation of humanity? His human manifestation was, by its very essence, entirely different from the human manifestation of corrupt people. The Lord Jesus was God incarnate, and if He had truly been one of the regular, corrupt people, could He have seen mankind’s lives in sin from a divine perspective? Absolutely not! This is the difference between the Son of man and regular people. Corrupt people all live in sin, and when anyone sees sin, they don’t have any particular feeling about it; they are all the same, just like a pig living in the mud that doesn’t feel at all uncomfortable, or dirty—it eats well, and sleeps soundly. If someone cleans the pigsty, the pig actually won’t feel at ease, and it won’t stay clean. Before long, it will once again be rolling around in the mud, completely comfortable, because it is a filthy creature. When humans see a pig, they feel it’s filthy, and if you clean it up, the pig doesn’t feel better—this is why no one keeps a pig in their house. The way humans see pigs will always be different from how pigs themselves feel, because humans and pigs are not of the same kind. And because the incarnate Son of man is not of the same kind as corrupt humans, only God incarnate can stand from a divine perspective, and stand from the height of God to see mankind, to see everything.
When God becomes flesh and lives among mankind, what suffering does He experience in the flesh? Does anyone truly understand? Some people say that God suffers greatly, and although He is God Himself, people do not understand His essence and always treat Him like a person, which makes Him feel aggrieved and wronged—they say that God’s suffering truly is great. Other people say that God is innocent and without sin, but He suffers the same as mankind and suffers persecution, slander, and indignities along with mankind; they say He also endures the misunderstandings and the disobedience of His followers—God’s suffering truly cannot be measured. It seems that you don’t truly understand God. In fact, this suffering you speak of does not count as true suffering for God, because there is suffering greater than this. Then what is true suffering for God Himself? What is true suffering for God’s incarnate flesh? For God, mankind not understanding Him does not count as suffering, and people having some misunderstanding of God and not seeing Him as God does not count as suffering. However, people often feel that God must have suffered a great injustice, that the time God is in the flesh He cannot show His person to mankind and allow them to see His greatness, and God is humbly hiding in an insignificant flesh, so it must have been tormenting for Him. People take to heart what they can understand and what they can see of God’s suffering, and impose all sorts of sympathy on God and often will even offer a little praise for it. In reality, there is a difference, there is a gap between what people understand of God’s suffering and what He truly feels. I’m telling you the truth—for God, no matter if it’s God’s Spirit or God’s incarnate flesh, that suffering is not true suffering. Then what is it that God actually suffers? Let’s talk about God’s suffering only from the perspective of God incarnate.
When God becomes flesh, becoming an average, normal person, living among mankind, side-by-side with people, can’t He see and feel people’s methods, laws, and philosophies for living? How do these methods and laws for living make Him feel? Does He feel loathing in His heart? Why would He feel loathing? What are mankind’s methods and laws for living? What principles are they rooted in? What are they based on? Mankind’s methods, laws, etc. for living—all of this is created based on Satan’s logic, knowledge, and philosophy. Humans living under these types of laws have no humanity, no truth—they all defy the truth, and are hostile to God. If we take a look at God’s essence, we see that His essence is exactly the opposite of Satan’s logic, knowledge, and philosophy. His essence is full of righteousness, truth, and holiness, and other realities of all positive things. God, possessing this essence and living among such a mankind—what does He feel in His heart? Isn’t it full of pain? His heart is in pain, and this pain is something that no person can understand or realize. Because everything that He faces, encounters, hears, sees, and experiences is all mankind’s corruption, evil, and their rebellion against and resistance to the truth. All that comes from humans is the source of His suffering. That is to say, because His essence is not the same as corrupt humans, the corruption of humans becomes the source of His greatest suffering. When God becomes flesh, is He able to find someone who shares a common language with Him? This cannot be found among mankind. No one can be found who can communicate, who can have this exchange with God—what kind of feeling would you say God has? The things that people discuss, that they love, that they pursue and long for all have to do with sin, with evil tendencies. When God faces all of this, isn’t it like a knife to His heart? Faced with these things, could He have joy in His heart? Could He find consolation? Those who are living with Him are humans full of rebelliousness and evil—how could His heart not suffer? How great really is this suffering, and who cares about it? Who takes heed? And who could appreciate it? People have no way of understanding God’s heart. His suffering is something that people are particularly unable to appreciate, and humanity’s coldness and numbness makes God’s suffering even deeper.
There are some people who often sympathize with Christ’s plight because there is a verse in the Bible that 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.” When people hear this, they take it to heart and believe that this is the greatest suffering that God endures, and the greatest suffering that Christ endures. Now, looking at it from the perspective of the facts, is that the case? God does not believe that these difficulties are suffering. He has never cried out against injustice for the difficulties of the flesh, and He has never made humans repay or reward Him with anything. However, when He witnesses mankind’s everything, the corrupt lives and the evil of corrupt humans, when He witnesses that mankind is in Satan’s grasp and imprisoned by Satan and cannot escape, that people living in sin do not know what the truth is—He cannot bear all of these sins. His loathing of humans increases by the day, but He has to endure all of this. This is God’s great suffering. God cannot fully express even His voice or His emotions among His followers, and no one among His followers can truly understand His suffering. No one even tries to understand or to comfort His heart—His heart endures this suffering day after day, year after year, time and time again. What do you see in all of this? God doesn’t require anything from humans in return for what He has given, but because of God’s essence, He absolutely cannot tolerate mankind’s evil, corruption, and sin, but feels extreme loathing and hatred, which leads to God’s heart and His flesh enduring unending suffering. Could you see all of this? Most likely, none of you could see this, because none of you can truly understand God. Over time you can gradually experience it for yourselves.
Next, let’s look at the following passages of scripture.
9. Jesus Performs Miracles
1) Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
(John 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 Glorifies God
(John 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 performed by the Lord Jesus, we have selected only these two because they are adequate to demonstrate what I’d like to speak about here. These two miracles are really astonishing, and they are very representative of the Lord Jesus’ miracles in the Age of Grace.
First, let’s take a look at the first passage: Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand.
What sort of concept is “five loaves and two fish”? How many people would five loaves of bread and two fish usually be enough for? If you measure based on the appetite of an average person, it would only be enough for two people. This is the most basic concept of five loaves and two fish. However, it’s written in this passage that five loaves and two fish fed how many people? It’s recorded in the Scripture this way: “Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.” Compared to five loaves and two fish, is five thousand a large number? What does it mean that this number is so large? From a human perspective, dividing five loaves and two fish between five thousand people would be impossible, because the difference between them is too great. Even if every person only had one tiny bite, it still wouldn’t be enough for five thousand people. But here, the Lord Jesus performed a miracle—He not only allowed five thousand people to eat their fill, but there was extra. The Scripture reads: “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 allowed people to see the identity and status of the Lord Jesus, and it also allowed them to see that nothing is impossible for God—they saw the truth of God’s omnipotence. Five loaves and two fish were enough to feed five thousand, but if there hadn’t been any food would God have been able to feed five thousand people? Of course He could have! This was a miracle, so inevitably people felt this was incomprehensible and felt it was incredible and mysterious, but for God, doing such a thing was nothing. Since this was something ordinary for God, why would it be singled out for interpretation? Because what lies behind this miracle contains the Lord Jesus’ will, which has never been discovered by mankind.
First, let’s try to understand what type of people these five thousand were. Were they followers of the Lord Jesus? From the Scripture, we know that they were not His followers. Did they know who the Lord Jesus was? Definitely not! At the very least, they didn’t know that the person standing in front of them was Christ, or maybe some people only knew what His name was, and knew something or had heard something about things He had done. They were merely curious about the Lord Jesus from the stories, but you certainly couldn’t say they followed Him, much less understood Him. When the Lord Jesus saw these five thousand people, they were hungry and could only think of eating their fill, so it was in this context that the Lord Jesus satisfied their wishes. When He satisfied their wishes, what was in His heart? What was His attitude toward these people that only wanted to eat their fill? At this time, the Lord Jesus’ thoughts and His attitude had to do with God’s disposition and essence. Facing these five thousand people with empty stomachs who only wanted to eat a full meal, facing these people full of curiosity and hopes about Him, the Lord Jesus only thought of utilizing this miracle to bestow grace upon them. However, He did not get His hopes up that they would become His followers, for He knew that they just wanted to get in on the fun and to eat their fill, so He made the best of what He had there, and used five loaves of bread and two fish to feed five thousand people. He opened the eyes of these people who enjoyed entertainment, who wanted to see miracles, and they saw with their own eyes the things that God incarnate could complete. Although the Lord Jesus used something tangible to satisfy their curiosity, He already knew in His heart that these five thousand people just wanted to have a good meal, so He didn’t say anything at all or preach to them at all—He just let them see this miracle occur. He absolutely could not treat these people the same as He treated His disciples who truly followed Him, but in God’s heart, all creatures were under His rule, and He would allow all creatures in His sight to enjoy the grace of God when it was necessary. Even though these people did not know who He was or understand Him, or have any particular impression of Him or gratitude toward Him even after they had eaten the loaves and fish, this wasn’t something that God took issue with—He gave these people a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the grace of God. Some people say that God is principled in what He does, and He does not watch over or protect non-believers, and He especially does not allow them to enjoy His grace. Is that actually the case? In God’s eyes, as long as they are living creatures that He Himself created, He will manage and care for them; He will treat them, plan for them, and rule them in different ways. These are the thoughts and attitude of God toward all things.
Although the five thousand people who ate the loaves of bread and the fish did not plan to follow the Lord Jesus, He was not strict with them; once they had eaten their fill, do you know what the Lord Jesus did? Did He preach anything to them? Where did He go after doing this? The Scripture does not record that the Lord Jesus said anything to them; when He had completed His miracle He quietly left. So did He make any requirements of these people? Was there any hatred? There were none of these—He just no longer wanted to pay any mind to these people who could not follow Him, and at this time His heart was in pain. Because He had seen the depravity of mankind and He had felt mankind’s rejection of Him, and when He saw these people or He was with them, human obtuseness and ignorance made Him very sad and left His heart in pain, so He only wanted to leave these people as quickly as possible. The Lord didn’t have any requirements of them in His heart, He did not want to pay them any mind, He particularly did not want to expend His energy on them, and He knew they could not follow Him—in spite of all this, His attitude toward them was still very clear. He just wanted to treat them kindly, to bestow them with grace—this was God’s attitude toward every creature under His rule: for every creature, treat them kindly, provide for them, nourish them. For the very reason that the Lord Jesus was God incarnate, He very naturally revealed God’s own essence and treated these people kindly. He treated them kindly with a heart of mercy and tolerance. No matter how these people saw the Lord Jesus, and no matter what kind of outcome there would be, He just treated every creature based on His position as the Lord of all creation. What He revealed was, without exception, God’s disposition, and what He has and is. So the Lord Jesus quietly did something, then quietly left—what aspect of God’s disposition is this? Could you say that this is God’s lovingkindness? Could you say that God is selfless? Could a regular person do this? Definitely not! In essence, who were these five thousand people that the Lord Jesus fed with five loaves and two fish? Could you say that they were people who were compatible with Him? Could you say that they were all hostile to God? It can be said with certainty that they absolutely were not compatible with the Lord, and their essence was absolutely hostile to God. But how did God treat them? He used a method to defuse people’s hostility toward God—this method is called “kindness.” That is, although the Lord Jesus saw them as sinners, in God’s eyes they were nevertheless His creation, so He still treated these sinners kindly. This is God’s tolerance, and this tolerance is determined by God’s own identity and essence. So, this is something that no human created by God can do—only God can do this.
When you are able to truly appreciate God’s thoughts and attitude toward mankind, when you can truly understand God’s emotions and concern toward each creature, you will be able to understand the devotion and the love spent on every single one of the people created by the Creator. When this happens, you will use two words to describe God’s love—what are those two words? Some people say “selfless,” and some people say “philanthropic.” Of these two, “philanthropic” is the word least suited to describe God’s love. This is a word that people use to describe a person’s broad-minded thoughts and feelings. I really loathe this word, because it refers to dispensing charity at random, indiscriminately, regardless of any principles. It is an overly emotional expression of foolish and confused people. When this word is used to describe God’s love, there is inevitably a blasphemous intention. I have two words that more aptly describe God’s love—what are those two words? The first one is “immense.” Isn’t this word very evocative? The second is “vast.” There’s real meaning behind these two words which I use to describe God’s love. Taken literally, “immense” describes a thing’s volume or capacity, but it doesn’t matter how big that thing is—it’s something that people can touch and see. This is because it exists, it’s not an abstract object, and it gives people the sense that is relatively accurate and practical. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at it from a flat or a three-dimensional angle; you don’t need to imagine its existence, because it’s a thing that really exists. Even though using “immense” to describe God’s love can feel like it’s quantifying His love, however, it also gives the feeling that it’s unquantifiable. I say that God’s love can be quantified because His love is not a kind of non-entity, nor does it spring from any legend. Rather, it is something shared by all things under God’s rule, and it is something enjoyed by all creatures to varying degrees and from different perspectives. Although people can’t see it or touch it, this love brings sustenance and life to all things as it is revealed bit by bit in their lives, and they number and bear witness to every single moment spent basking in God’s love. I say that God’s love is unquantifiable because the mystery of God providing for and nourishing all things is something that is difficult for humans to fathom, as are God’s thoughts for all things, and particularly those for mankind. That is to say, no one knows the blood and tears the Creator has poured out for mankind. No one can comprehend, no one can understand the depth or weight of the love the Creator has for mankind, created with His own hands. Describing God’s love as “immense” is to help people appreciate and understand its breadth and the truth of its existence. It’s also so that people can more deeply comprehend the actual meaning of the word “Creator,” and so that people can gain a deeper understanding of the true meaning of the appellation “creation.” What does the word “vast” usually describe? It is generally used for the ocean or the universe, such as the vast universe, or the vast ocean. The expansiveness and quiet depth of the universe is beyond human understanding, and it’s something that captures man’s imaginations, that they are full of admiration for. Its mystery and profundity are within sight but beyond reach. When you think of the ocean, you think of its breadth—it looks limitless, and you can feel its mysteriousness and its inclusiveness. This is why I’ve used the word “vast” to describe God’s love. It’s to help people feel how precious it is, and feel the profound beauty of His love, and that the power of God’s love is infinite and extensive. It’s to help them feel the holiness of His love, and the dignity and unoffendableness of God that is revealed through His love. Now do you think “vast” is a suitable word for describing God’s love? Can God’s love live up to these two words, “immense” and “vast”? Absolutely! In human language, only these two words are relatively apt, are relatively close to describing God’s love. Don’t you think so? If I had you describe God’s love, would you use these two words? Most likely you couldn’t, because your understanding and appreciation of God’s love is limited to a flat perspective, and has not ascended to the height of three-dimensional space. So if I had you describe God’s love, you would feel that you lack the words; you would even be speechless. The two words that I’ve talked about today may be difficult for you to understand, or maybe you simply do not agree. This can only speak to the fact that your appreciation and understanding of God’s love is superficial and within a narrow scope. I’ve said before that God is selfless—you remember the word selfless. Could it be said that God’s love can only be described as selfless? Isn’t this too narrow of a scope? You should ponder this issue more in order to gain something from it.
The above is what we saw of God’s disposition and His essence from the first miracle. Even though it’s a story that people have read for several thousand years, it has a simple plot, and allows people to see a simple phenomenon, yet in this simple plot we can see something more valuable, which is God’s disposition and what He has and is. These things that He has and is represent God Himself, and are an expression of God’s own thoughts. When God expresses His thoughts, it’s an expression of His own voice. He hopes that there will be people who can understand Him, know Him and comprehend His will, and He hopes there will be people who can hear His voice and will be able to actively cooperate to satisfy His will. And these things that the Lord Jesus did were a silent expression of God.
Next, let’s look at this passage: The Resurrection of Lazarus Glorifies God.
What’s your impression after reading this passage? The significance of this miracle that the Lord Jesus performed was much greater than the previous one because no miracle is more astounding than bringing a dead man back from the grave. The Lord Jesus doing something like this was extremely significant in that age. Because God had become flesh, people could only see His physical appearance, His practical side, and His insignificant side. Even if some people saw and understood some of His character or some strengths that He appeared to have, no one knew where the Lord Jesus came from, who His essence truly was, and what more He really could do. All of this was unknown to mankind. Too many people wanted proof of this thing, and to know the truth. Could God do something to prove His own identity? For God, this was a breeze—it was a piece of cake. He could do something anywhere, anytime to prove His identity and essence, but God did things with a plan, and in steps. He didn’t do things indiscriminately; He looked for the right time, and the right opportunity to do something most meaningful for mankind to see. This proved His authority and His identity. So then, could the resurrection of Lazarus prove the Lord Jesus’ identity? Let’s look at the scripture: “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, He said just one thing: “Lazarus, come forth.” Lazarus then came out from his tomb—this was accomplished because of a single line uttered by the Lord. During this time, the Lord Jesus did not set up an altar, and He didn’t carry out any other actions. He just said one thing. Would this be called a miracle or a command? Or was it some sort of wizardry? On the surface, it seems it could be called a miracle, and if you look at it from a modern perspective, of course you could still call it a miracle. However, it certainly could not be called a spell to call a soul back from the dead, and absolutely not a sorcery. It is correct to say that this miracle was the most normal, tiny little demonstration of the Creator’s authority. This is the authority, and the ability of God. God has the authority to have a person die, to have his soul leave his body and return to Hades, or wherever it should go. When someone dies, and where they go after death—these are determined by God. He can do this anytime and anywhere. He is not constrained by humans, events, objects, space, or place. If He wants to do it He can do it, because all things and living beings are under His rule, and all things live and die by His word, His authority. He can resurrect a dead man—this is also something He can do anytime, anywhere. This is the authority that only the Creator possesses.
When the Lord Jesus did something such as bringing Lazarus back from the dead, His goal was to give proof for humans and for Satan to see, and to let humans and Satan know that mankind’s everything, mankind’s life and death are determined by God, and that even though He had become flesh, as always, He remained in command of the physical world that can be seen as well as the spiritual world humans cannot see. This was to let humans and Satan know that mankind’s everything is not under the command of Satan. This was a revealing and a demonstration of God’s authority, and it was also a way for God to send a message to all things that mankind’s life and death is in God’s hands. The Lord Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus—this type of approach was one of the ways for the Creator to teach and instruct mankind. It was a concrete action in which He used His ability and authority to instruct mankind, and to provide for humans. It was a way without words for the Creator to allow mankind to see the truth of Him being in command of all things. It was a way for Him to tell mankind through practical actions that there is no salvation other than through Him. This type of silent means of His instructing mankind lasts forever—it is indelible, and it brought to human hearts a shock and enlightenment that can never fade. The resurrection of Lazarus glorified God—this has a deep impact on every single one of God’s followers. It firmly fixes in every person who deeply understands this event the understanding, the vision that “only God can command mankind’s life and death.” Although God has this type of authority, and although He sent a message about His sovereignty over mankind’s life and death through the resurrection of Lazarus, this was not His primary work. God never does something without meaning. Every single thing He does has great value; it is all a classic treasure. He absolutely would not make a person coming out of their tomb into the primary or the sole goal or item in His work. God does not do anything that is without meaning. One resurrection of Lazarus is adequate to demonstrate God’s authority. It is adequate to prove the identity of the Lord Jesus. This is why the Lord Jesus did not repeat this type of miracle. God does things according to His own principles. In human language, it would be “God is mindful of serious work.” That is, when God does things He does not stray from the purpose of His work. He knows what work He wants to carry out in this stage, what He wants to accomplish, and He will work strictly according to His plan. If a corrupt person had that kind of ability, he would just be thinking of ways to reveal his ability so that others would know how formidable he was, so they would bow down to him, so he could control them and devour them. This is the evil that comes from Satan—this is called corruption. God does not have such disposition, and He does not have such essence. His purpose in doing things isn’t to show Himself off, but to provide mankind with more revelation and guidance, so people see very few examples in the Bible of this type of thing. This doesn’t mean that the Lord Jesus’ abilities were limited, or that He couldn’t do that type of thing. It’s simply that God didn’t want to do it, because the Lord Jesus resurrecting Lazarus had very practical significance, and also because the primary work of God becoming flesh wasn’t performing miracles, it wasn’t bringing people back from the dead, but it was the work of redemption for mankind. So, much of the work that the Lord Jesus completed was teaching people, providing for them, and helping them, and things such as resurrecting Lazarus were merely small portions of the ministry that the Lord Jesus carried out. Even more, you could say that “showing off” isn’t a part of God’s essence, so not showing more miracles wasn’t intentionally exercising restraint, nor was it due to environmental limitations, and it certainly wasn’t a lack of ability.
When the Lord Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, He used one line: “Lazarus, come forth.” He said nothing aside from this—what do these words represent? They represent that God can accomplish anything through speaking, including resurrecting a dead man. When God created all things, when He created the world, He did so with words. He used spoken commands, words with authority, and just like that all things were created. It was accomplished like that. This single line spoken by the Lord Jesus was just like the words spoken by God when He created the heavens and earth and all things; it equally held the authority of God, the ability of the Creator. All things were formed and stood fast because of words from God’s mouth, and just the same, Lazarus walked out from his tomb because of the words from the Lord Jesus’ mouth. This was the authority of God, demonstrated and realized in His incarnate flesh. This type of authority and ability belonged to the Creator, and to the Son of man in whom the Creator was realized. This is the understanding taught to mankind by God bringing Lazarus back from the dead. That’s all on this topic. Next, let’s read the scriptures.
10. The Pharisees’ Judgment on Jesus
(Mark 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
(Mat 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.
(Mat 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.
There are two separate passages above—let’s first take a look at the first one: The Pharisees’ Judgment on Jesus.
In the Bible, the Pharisees’ appraisal of Jesus Himself and the things that He did was: “they said, He is beside himself. … He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts he out devils” (Mark 3:21-22). The scribes’ and Pharisees’ judgment of the Lord Jesus wasn’t parroting things or imagining out of thin air—it was their conclusion of the Lord Jesus from what they saw and heard of His actions. Although their conclusion was ostensibly made in the name of justice and appeared to people as if it were well-founded, the arrogance with which they judged the Lord Jesus was difficult for even them to contain. The frenzied energy of their hatred for the Lord Jesus exposed their own wild ambitions and their evil satanic countenances, as well as their malevolent nature of resisting God. These things they said in their judgment of the Lord Jesus were driven by their wild ambitions, jealousy, and the ugly and malevolent nature of their hostility toward God and the truth. They did not investigate the source of the Lord Jesus’ actions, nor did they investigate the essence of what He said or did. But they blindly, impatiently, crazily, and with deliberate malice attacked and discredited what He had done. This was even to the point of indiscriminately discrediting His Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit. This is what they meant when they said “He is beside himself,” “Beelzebub and the prince of the devils.” That is to say, they said the Spirit of God was Beelzebub and the prince of the devils. They characterized the work of the flesh God’s Spirit clothed in as madness. They not only blasphemed God’s Spirit as Beelzebub and the prince of the devils, but they condemned God’s work. They condemned and blasphemed the Lord Jesus Christ. The essence of their resistance and blasphemy of God was entirely the same as the essence of Satan and the devil’s resistance and blasphemy of God. They not only represented corrupt humans, but even more they were the embodiment of Satan. They were a channel for Satan amongst mankind, and they were the accomplices and messengers of Satan. The essence of their blasphemy and their denigration of the Lord Jesus Christ was their struggle with God for status, their contest with God, their unending testing of God. The essence of their resistance to God and their attitude of hostility toward Him, as well as their words and their thoughts directly blasphemed and angered God’s Spirit. Thus, God determined a reasonable judgment of what they said and did, and determined their deeds to be the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin is unforgivable in both this world and the hereafter, just as the following scripture passage says: “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 true meaning of these words from God “it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” That is demystifying how God fulfills the words “it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
Everything that we’ve talked about is related to God’s disposition, and His attitude toward people, matters, and things. Naturally, the two passages above are no exception. Did you notice anything in these two passages of scripture? Some people say they see God’s anger. Some people say they see the side of God’s disposition that does not tolerate mankind’s offense, and that if people do something that is blasphemous to God, they will not gain His forgiveness. Despite the fact that people see and perceive God’s anger and intolerance of mankind’s offense in these two passages, they still don’t truly understand His attitude. These two passages contain an implication of God’s true attitude and approach toward those who blaspheme and anger Him. This passage in the scripture holds the true meaning of His attitude and approach: “whoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” When people blaspheme God, when they anger Him, He issues a verdict, and this verdict is His final outcome. It is described this way in the Bible: “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” (Mat 12:31), and “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Mat 23:13). However, is it recorded in the Bible what the outcome was with those scribes and Pharisees, as well as those people who said He was mad after the Lord Jesus said these things? Is it recorded if they suffered any punishment? It is certain that there wasn’t. Saying here that there “wasn’t” isn’t that it wasn’t recorded, but in fact there was no outcome that could be seen with human eyes. This “wasn’t” elucidates an issue, that is, God’s attitude and principles for handling certain things. God’s treatment of people who blaspheme or resist Him, or even those who malign Him—people who intentionally attack, malign, and curse Him—He does not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear. He has a clear attitude toward them. He despises these people, and in His heart He condemns them. He even openly declares the outcome for them, so that people know that He has a clear attitude toward those who blaspheme Him, and so that they know how He will determine their outcome. However, after God said these things, people still could rarely see the truth of how God would handle those people, and they could not understand the principles behind God’s outcome, His verdict for them. That is to say, mankind cannot see the particular attitude and methods God has for handling them. This has to do with God’s principles for doing things. God uses the advent of facts to deal with the evil behavior of some people. That is, He does not announce their sin and does not determine their outcome, but He directly uses the advent of facts to allow them to be punished, to get their due retribution. When these facts happen, it is people’s flesh that suffers punishment; it is all something that can be seen with human eyes. When dealing with some people’s evil behavior, God just curses them with words, but at the same time, God’s anger comes upon them, and the punishment they receive may be something people cannot see, but this type of outcome may be even more serious than the outcomes that people can see of being punished or being killed. This is because under the circumstances that God has determined not to save this type of person, to no longer show mercy or have tolerance for them, to provide them with no more opportunities, the attitude that He takes toward them is to put them aside. What is the meaning of “put aside”? The meaning of this term on its own is to put something to one side, to no longer pay attention to it. Here, when God “puts aside,” there are two different explanations of its meaning: The first explanation is that He has given that person’s life, that person’s everything over to Satan to deal with. God would no longer be responsible and He would no longer manage it. Whether that person were mad, or stupid, and whether in life or in death, or if they descended into hell for their punishment, it would have nothing to do with God. That would mean that that creature would have no relation to the Creator. The second explanation is that God has determined that He Himself wants to do something with this person, with His own hands. It is possible that He will utilize this kind of person’s effort, or that He will utilize this kind of person as a foil. It’s possible that He will have a special way of dealing with this type of person, a special way of treating them—just like Paul. This is the principle and attitude in God’s heart of how He has determined to deal with this kind of person. So when people resist God, and malign and blaspheme Him, if they aggravate His disposition, or if they reach God’s bottom line, the consequences are unthinkable. The most severe consequence is that God hands their lives and their everything over to Satan, once and for all. They will not be forgiven for all of eternity. This means that this person has become food in Satan’s mouth, a toy in its hand, and from then on God has nothing to do with them. Can you imagine what kind of misery it was when Satan tempted Job? Under the condition that Satan was not permitted to harm Job’s life, however, Job still suffered greatly. And isn’t it even more difficult to imagine the ravages of Satan a person would be subjected to who has been completely handed over to Satan, who is completely within Satan’s grasp, who has completely lost God’s care and mercy, who is no longer under the Creator’s rule, who has been stripped of the right to worship Him, and the right to be a creature under God’s rule, whose relationship with the Lord of creation has been completely cut off? Satan’s persecution of Job was something that could be seen with human eyes, but if God hands over a person’s life to Satan, its consequence will be something that no one can imagine. It’s just like some people being reborn as a cow, or a donkey, or some people being taken over, possessed by unclean, evil spirits, and so on. This is the outcome, the end of some people who are handed over to Satan by God. From the outside, it looks like those people who ridiculed, maligned, condemned, and blasphemed the Lord Jesus did not suffer any consequences. However, the truth is that God has an attitude for dealing with everything. He may not use clear language to tell people the outcome of how He deals with every type of person. Sometimes He does not speak directly, but He does things directly. That He does not speak about it doesn’t mean there isn’t an outcome—it is possible that the outcome is even more serious. From appearances, it seems God does not speak to some people to reveal His attitude; in fact, God has not wanted to pay them any mind for a long time. He does not want to see them anymore. Because of the things they have done, their behavior, because of their nature and their essence, God only wants them to disappear from His sight, wants to hand them over directly to Satan, to give their spirit, soul, and body to Satan, to allow Satan to do whatever it wants. It is clear to what extent God hates them, to what extent He is disgusted by them. If a person angers God to the point that God doesn’t even want to see them again, that He will completely give up on them, to the point that God doesn’t even want to deal with them Himself—if it gets to the point that He will hand them over to Satan for it to do as it will, to allow Satan to control, consume, and treat them in any way—this person is thoroughly finished. Their right to be a human has been permanently revoked, and their right as a creature has come to an end. Isn’t this the most serious punishment?
All of this above is a complete explanation of the words: “it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come,” and it is also a simple commentary on these scripture passages. I think you have an understanding of it now!
Now let’s read the scripture passages below.
12. Jesus’ Words to His Disciples After His Resurrection
(John 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.
(John 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 passages recount are some things that the Lord Jesus did and said to His disciples after His resurrection. First, let’s take a look at any differences between the Lord Jesus before and after the resurrection. Was He still the same Lord Jesus of past days? The scripture contains the following line describing the Lord Jesus after the resurrection: “then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you.” It’s very clear that the Lord Jesus at that time was no longer a flesh, but a spiritual body. This was because He had transcended the limitations of the flesh, and when the door was closed He could still come into the midst of the people and allow them to see Him. This is the greatest difference between the Lord Jesus after the resurrection and the Lord Jesus living in the flesh before the resurrection. Even though there was no difference between the appearance of the spiritual body of that moment and the appearance of the Lord Jesus from before, Jesus in that moment had become a Jesus that felt like a stranger to the people, because He had become a spiritual body after being resurrected from the dead, and compared to His previous flesh, this spiritual body was more puzzling and confusing for people. It also created more distance between the Lord Jesus and the people, and people felt in their hearts that the Lord Jesus in that moment had become more mysterious. These understandings and feelings on the part of the people suddenly brought them back to an age of believing in a God that could not be seen or touched. So, the first thing that the Lord Jesus did after His resurrection was to allow everyone to see Him, to confirm that He exists, and to confirm the fact of His resurrection. In addition, it restored His relationship with the people to the relationship He had with them when He was working in the flesh, and He was the Christ they could see and touch. This way, one outcome is that the people had no doubt that the Lord Jesus had been resurrected from death after being nailed to the cross, and there was no doubt in the Lord Jesus’ work to redeem mankind. And another outcome is that the fact of the Lord Jesus appearing to people after His resurrection and allowing people to see and touch Him firmly secured mankind in the Age of Grace. From this time on, people could not return to the previous age, the Age of Law, because of the Lord Jesus’ “disappearance” or “desertion,” but they would continue forward, following the Lord Jesus’ teachings and the work He had done. Thus, a new phase in the work in the Age of Grace was formally opened up, and the people who had been under the law formally came out from the law from then on, and entered into a new era, with a new beginning. These are the manifold meanings of the Lord Jesus’ appearance to mankind after the resurrection.
Since He was a spiritual body, how could people touch Him, and see Him? This has to do with the significance of the Lord Jesus’ appearance to mankind. Did you notice anything in these passages of scripture? Generally spiritual bodies cannot be seen or touched, and after the resurrection the work that the Lord Jesus had taken on had already been completed. So in theory, He had absolutely no need to return to the people’s midst in His original image to meet with them, but the appearance of the Lord Jesus’ spiritual body to people like Thomas made its significance more concrete, and it penetrated more deeply into the people’s hearts. When He came to Thomas, He let doubting Thomas touch His hand, and told him: “reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” These words, these actions weren’t things that the Lord Jesus wanted to say and do only after He had been resurrected, but they were things He wanted to do before He had been nailed to the cross. It is evident that the Lord Jesus who had not yet been nailed to the cross already had an understanding of people such as Thomas. So what can we see from this? He was still the same Lord Jesus after His resurrection. His essence had not changed. Thomas’ doubts had not just started but had been with him the entire time he had been following the Lord Jesus, but He was the Lord Jesus that had been resurrected from the dead and had returned from the spiritual world with His original image, with His original disposition, and with His understanding of mankind from His time in the flesh, so He went to find Thomas first, to let Thomas touch His rib, to let him not only see His spiritual body after resurrection, but to let him touch and feel the existence of His spiritual body, and completely let go of his doubts. Before the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross, Thomas always doubted that He is Christ, and could not believe it. His belief in God was established only on the basis of what he could see with his own eyes, what he could touch with his own hands. The Lord Jesus had a good understanding of the faith of this type of person. They only believed in God in heaven, and did not believe at all, and would not accept the One sent by God, or the Christ in the flesh. In order to have him acknowledge and believe in the existence of the Lord Jesus and that He truly was God incarnate, He allowed Thomas to reach out his hand and touch His rib. Was Thomas’ doubting any different before and after the Lord Jesus’ resurrection? He was always doubting, and aside from the Lord Jesus’ spiritual body personally appearing to him and allowing Thomas to touch the nail marks on His body, no one could resolve his doubts, and no one could make him let go of them. So, from the time the Lord Jesus allowed him to touch His rib and let him really feel the existence of the nail marks, Thomas’ doubt disappeared, and he truly knew that the Lord Jesus had been resurrected and he acknowledged and believed that the Lord Jesus was the true Christ, that He was God incarnate. Although at this time Thomas no longer doubted, he had lost forever the chance to meet with Christ. He had lost forever the chance to be together with Him, to follow Him, to know Him. He had lost the chance for Christ to perfect him. The Lord Jesus’ appearance and His words provided a conclusion, and a verdict on the faith of those who were full of doubts. He used His actual words and actions to tell the doubters, to tell those who only believed in God in heaven but did not believe in Christ: God did not commend their belief, nor did He commend their following which was full of doubts. The day they fully believed in God and Christ could only be the day that God completed His great work. Of course, that day was also the day that their doubt received a verdict. Their attitude toward Christ determined their fate, and their stubborn doubt meant their faith gained them no results, and their rigidness meant their hopes were in vain. Because their belief in God in heaven was fed on illusions, and their doubt toward Christ was actually their true attitude toward God, even though they touched the nail marks on the Lord Jesus’ body, their faith was still useless and their outcome can only be described as beating the wind—in vain. What the Lord Jesus said to Thomas was also very clearly telling every person: The resurrected Lord Jesus is the Lord Jesus that had initially spent thirty-three and a half years working among mankind. Although He had been nailed to the cross and experienced the valley of the shadow of death, and He had experienced resurrection, His every aspect had undergone no changes. Although He now had nail marks on His body, and although He had been resurrected and walked out from the grave, His disposition, His understanding of mankind, and His intentions toward mankind had not changed in the slightest. Also, He was telling people that He had come down off the cross, triumphed over sin, triumphed over hardships, and triumphed over death. The nail marks were just the evidence of His victory over Satan, evidence of being a sin offering to successfully redeem all of mankind. He was telling people that He had already taken on mankind’s sins and He had completed His work of redemption. When He returned to see His disciples, He told them with His appearance: “I’m still alive, I still exist; today I am truly standing in front of you so that you can see and touch Me. I will always be with you.” The Lord Jesus also wanted to use the case of Thomas as a warning for future people: Although you believe in the Lord Jesus, you can neither see nor touch Him, however, you can be blessed by your true faith, and you can see the Lord Jesus through your true faith; this kind of person is blessed.
These words recorded in the Bible that the Lord Jesus spoke when He appeared to Thomas are a great help to all people in the Age of Grace. His appearance and His words to Thomas have had a profound impact on future generations, and they hold everlasting significance. Thomas represents a type of person who believes in God yet doubts God. They are of a suspicious nature, have sinister hearts, are treacherous, and do not believe in the things that God can complete. They do not believe in God’s omnipotence and His rule, and they don’t believe in God incarnate. However, the Lord Jesus’ resurrection was a slap in the face to them, and it also provided them with an opportunity to discover their own doubt, to recognize their own doubt, and to acknowledge their own treachery, thus truly believing in the existence and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. What happened with Thomas was a warning and a caution for later generations so that more people could warn themselves not to be doubting like Thomas, and if they were, they would sink into the darkness. If you follow God, but just like Thomas, you always want to touch the Lord’s rib and feel His nail marks to confirm, to verify, to speculate on whether or not God exists, God will forsake you. So, the Lord Jesus requires people to not be like Thomas, only believing what they can see with their own eyes, but to be a pure, honest person, to not harbor doubts toward God, but only believe in and follow Him. This type of person is blessed. This is a very small requirement the Lord Jesus has for people, and a warning for His followers.
That is the Lord Jesus’ attitude toward those who are full of doubts. So what did the Lord Jesus say to, and what did He do for those who are able to honestly believe in and follow Him? This is what we’re going to look at next, regarding something the Lord Jesus said to Peter.
In this conversation, the Lord Jesus repeatedly asked Peter one thing: “Peter, love you me?” This is a higher standard the Lord Jesus required from people like Peter after His resurrection, who truly believe in Christ and strive to love the Lord. This question was a sort of investigation, and a sort of interrogation, but even more, it was a requirement and an expectation of people like Peter. He used this method of questioning so that people would reflect on themselves and look into themselves: What are the Lord Jesus’ requirements for people? Do I love the Lord? Am I a person who loves God? How should I love God? Even though the Lord Jesus only asked this question of Peter, the truth is that in His heart, He wanted to use this opportunity of asking Peter to ask this type of question of more people who seek to love God. It is only that Peter was blessed to act as the representative of this type of person, to receive questioning from the Lord Jesus’ own mouth.
Compared to “reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing,” which the Lord Jesus said to Thomas after His resurrection, His three times of questioning Peter: “Simon, son of Jonas, love you me?” allow people to better feel the sternness of the Lord Jesus’ attitude, and the urgency He felt during His questioning. As for doubting Thomas with his crafty nature, the Lord Jesus allowed him to reach out his hand and touch His nail marks, which let him believe that the Lord Jesus was the Son of man resurrected and acknowledge the Lord Jesus’ identity as Christ. And although the Lord Jesus did not sternly rebuke Thomas, nor did He verbally express any clear judgment of him, He let him know that He understood him through practical actions, while also displaying His attitude toward and determination of that type of person. The Lord Jesus’ requirements and expectations of that type of person cannot be seen from what He said. Because people like Thomas simply do not have a thread of true faith. The Lord Jesus’ requirements for them are only in this, but the attitude He revealed toward people like Peter is entirely different. He did not require that Peter reach out his hand and touch His nail marks, nor did He say to Peter: “be not faithless, but believing.” Instead, He repeatedly asked Peter the same question. This was a thought-provoking, meaningful question that can’t help but make every follower of Christ feel remorse, and fear, but also feel the Lord Jesus’ anxious, sorrowful mood. And when they are in great pain and suffering, they are more able to understand the Lord Jesus Christ’s concern and His care; they realize His earnest teaching and strict requirements of pure, honest people. The Lord Jesus’ question allows people to feel that the Lord’s expectations of people revealed in these simple words are not merely to believe in and follow Him, but to achieve having love, loving your Lord, loving your God. This kind of love is caring and obeying. It is humans living for God, dying for God, dedicating everything to God, and expending and giving everything for God. This kind of love is also giving God comfort, allowing Him to enjoy witness, and allowing Him to be at rest. It is mankind’s repayment to God, their responsibility, obligation and duty, and it is a way that mankind must follow for their entire lives. These three questions were a requirement and an exhortation the Lord Jesus made of Peter and all people who would be made perfect. It was these three questions that led and motivated Peter to complete his path in life, and it was the questions at the Lord Jesus’ parting that led Peter to start on his path of being made perfect, that led him, because of his love for the Lord, to care for the Lord’s heart, to obey the Lord, to offer comfort to the Lord, and to offer up his whole life and his whole being because of this love.
During the Age of Grace, God’s work was primarily for two types of people. The first was the type of person who believed in and followed Him, who could keep His commandments, who could bear the cross and hold to the way of the Age of Grace. This type of person would gain God’s blessing and enjoy God’s grace. The second type of person was like Peter, someone who would be made perfect. So, after the Lord Jesus was resurrected, He first did these two very meaningful things. One was to Thomas, the other was to Peter. What do these two things represent? Do they represent God’s true intentions of saving mankind? Do they represent God’s sincerity toward mankind? The work He did with Thomas was to warn people not to be doubting, but to just believe. The work He did with Peter was to strengthen the faith of people like Peter, and to make clear requirements of this type of person, to show what goals they should be pursuing.
After the Lord Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to the people He thought necessary, spoke with them, and made requirements of them, leaving behind His intentions, and His expectations of people. That is to say, as God incarnate, it doesn’t matter if it was during His time in the flesh, or in the spiritual body after being nailed to the cross and being resurrected—His concern for mankind and requirements of people did not change. He was concerned about these disciples before He was up on the cross; in His heart, He was clear on the situation of every single person, He understood every person’s deficiency, and of course His understanding of every person was the same after He had died, resurrected, and become a spiritual body as it was when He was in the flesh. He knew that people weren’t entirely certain of His identity as Christ, but during His time in the flesh He did not make strict demands of people. But after He had been resurrected He appeared to them, and He made them absolutely certain that the Lord Jesus had come from God, that He was God incarnate, and He used the fact of His appearance and His resurrection as the greatest vision and motivation for mankind’s lifelong pursuit. His resurrection from death not only strengthened all those who followed Him, but also thoroughly put His work of the Age of Grace into effect among mankind, and thus the gospel of the Lord Jesus’ salvation in the Age of Grace gradually spread to every corner of humanity. Would you say that the Lord Jesus’ appearance after His resurrection had any significance? If you were Thomas or Peter at that time, and you encountered this one thing in your life that was so meaningful, what kind of impact would it have on you? Would you see this as the best and the greatest vision of your life of believing in God? Would you see this as a driving force of your following God, striving to satisfy Him, and pursuing love of God in your life? Would you expend a lifetime of effort to spread this greatest of visions? Would you make spreading the Lord Jesus’ salvation a commission you accept from God? Even though you have not experienced this, the two cases of Thomas and Peter are already enough for modern people to have a clear understanding of God’s will and of God. It could be said that after God had become flesh, after He personally experienced life among mankind and a human life, and after He saw the depravity of mankind and the situation of human life, God in the flesh more deeply felt the helplessness, the sadness, and the pitifulness of mankind. God gained more compassion for the human condition because of His humanity while living in the flesh, because of His instincts in the flesh. This led Him to have greater concern for His followers. These are probably things that you can’t understand, but I can describe worry and caring of God in the flesh for every one of His followers with this phrase: intense concern. Even though this term comes from human language, and even though it’s a very human phrase, it truly expresses and describes God’s feelings for His followers. As for God’s intense concern for humans, over the course of your experiences you will gradually feel this and get a taste of it. However, this can only be achieved by gradually understanding God’s disposition on the basis of pursuing a change in your own disposition. The appearance of the Lord Jesus materialized His intense concern for His followers in humanity and handed it over to His spiritual body, or you could say His divinity. His appearance allowed people to have another experience and feeling of God’s concern and care while also powerfully proving that God is the One who opens up an age, who develops an age, and He is the One who ends an age. Through His appearance He strengthened the faith of all people, and through His appearance He proved to the world the fact that He is God Himself. This gave His followers eternal confirmation, and through His appearance He also opened up a phase of His work in the new age.
13. Jesus Eats Bread and Explains the Scriptures After His Resurrection
(Luke 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 Give Jesus Broiled Fish to Eat
(Luke 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.
Next we’ll take a look at the passages of scripture above. The first passage is a recounting of the Lord Jesus eating bread and explaining the scriptures after His resurrection, and the second passage is a recounting of the Lord Jesus eating broiled fish. What kind of help do these two passages provide for knowing God’s disposition? Can you imagine the kind of picture you get from these descriptions of the Lord Jesus eating bread and then broiled fish? Can you imagine, if the Lord Jesus were standing in front of you eating bread, how you might feel? Or if He were eating with you at the same table, eating fish and bread with people, what kind of feeling you would have at the time? If you feel you would be very close to the Lord, that He is very intimate with people, then this feeling is right. This is exactly the fruit that the Lord Jesus wanted to bear from eating bread and fish in front of the multitude after His resurrection. If the Lord Jesus had only spoken with people after His resurrection, if they could not feel His flesh and bones, but felt He was an unreachable Spirit, how would they feel? Wouldn’t they be disappointed? When people were disappointed, wouldn’t they feel abandoned? Wouldn’t they feel a distance with the Lord Jesus Christ? What kind of negative impact would this distance create on people’s relationship with God? People would certainly feel afraid, that they didn’t dare come close to Him, and then they would have an attitude of keeping Him at a respectful distance. From then on, they would sever their intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and return to a relationship between mankind and God up in heaven, as it was before the Age of Grace. The spiritual body that people could not touch or feel would lead to the eradication of their intimacy with God, and it would also make that intimate relationship—established during the Lord Jesus Christ’s time in the flesh, with no distance between Him and humans—cease to exist. People’s feelings toward the spiritual body are only fear, avoidance, and a wordless gaze. They do not dare to get close or to have a dialogue with Him, let alone follow, trust, or have hope in Him. God was reluctant to see this type of feeling that humans had for Him. He did not want to see people avoiding Him or removing themselves from Him; He only wanted people to understand Him, come close to Him, and be His family. If your own family, your children saw you but did not recognize you, and did not dare to come close to you but always avoided you, if you could not gain their understanding for everything you had done for them, how would that make you feel? Wouldn’t it be painful? Wouldn’t you be heartbroken? That is precisely what God feels when people avoid Him. So, after His resurrection, the Lord Jesus still appeared to people in His form of flesh and blood, and ate and drank with them. God sees people as family and He also wants mankind to see Him that way; only in this way can God truly obtain people, and can people truly love and worship God. Now can you understand My intention in extracting these two passages of scripture where the Lord Jesus eats bread and explains the scriptures, and the disciples give Him broiled fish to eat after His resurrection?
It can be said that the series of things that the Lord Jesus said and did after His resurrection were thoughtful, and done with kind intentions. They were full of the kindness and affection that God holds toward humanity, and full of the appreciation and meticulous care He had for the intimate relationship He had established with mankind during His time in the flesh. Even more, they were full of the nostalgia and the hope He had for the life of eating and living with His followers during His time in the flesh. So, God did not want people to feel a distance between God and man, nor did He want mankind to distance themselves from God. Even more, He didn’t want mankind to feel that the Lord Jesus after His resurrection was no longer the Lord who was so intimate with people, that He was no longer together with mankind because He returned to the spiritual world, returned to the Father who people could never see or reach. He didn’t want people to feel that there was any difference in position between Him and mankind. When God sees people who want to follow Him but keep Him at a respectful distance, His heart is in pain because that means their hearts are very far from Him, it means that it will be very difficult for Him to gain their hearts. So if He had appeared to people in a spiritual body that they could not see or touch, this would have once again distanced man from God, and it would have led mankind to mistakenly see Christ after His resurrection as having become lofty, of a different kind than humans, and someone who could no longer share a table and eat with man because humans are sinful, filthy, and can never get close to God. In order to remove these misunderstandings of mankind, the Lord Jesus did a number of things He frequently did in the flesh, as recorded in the Bible, “he took bread, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to them.” He also explained the scriptures to them, as He used to do. All of this that the Lord Jesus did made every person who saw Him feel that the Lord had not changed, that He was still the same Lord Jesus. Even though He had been nailed to the cross and had experienced death, He had been resurrected, and had not left mankind. He had returned to be among humans, and His everything had not changed. The Son of man standing in front of people was still the same Lord Jesus. His demeanor and His conversation with people felt so familiar. He was still so full of lovingkindness, grace, and tolerance—He was still that Lord Jesus who loved others as He loved Himself, who could forgive mankind seventy times seven. As always, He ate with people, discussed the scriptures with them, and even more importantly, just the same as before, He was made of flesh and blood and could be touched and seen. The Son of man in this way allowed people to feel that intimacy, to feel at ease, and to feel the joy of regaining something that has been lost, and they also felt at ease enough to bravely and confidently begin to rely on and look up to this Son of man who could forgive mankind of their sins. They also began to pray to the name of the Lord Jesus without hesitations, to pray to obtain His grace, His blessing, and to obtain peace and joy from Him, to gain care and protection from Him, and began to perform healings and cast out demons in the name of the Lord Jesus.
During the time that the Lord Jesus worked in the flesh, most of His followers could not fully verify His identity and the things that He said. When He went up on the cross, the attitude of His followers was one of expectancy; when He was nailed to the cross all the way until He was put into the grave, people’s attitude toward Him was disappointment. During this time, people had already begun to move in their hearts from doubting to denial of the things the Lord Jesus had said during His time in the flesh. And when He walked out from the grave, and appeared to the people one by one, the majority of people who had seen Him with their own eyes or heard the news of His resurrection gradually shifted from denial to skepticism. By the time the Lord Jesus had Thomas put his hand into His side, by the time the Lord Jesus broke bread and ate it in front of the crowd after His resurrection, and after that ate broiled fish in front of them, only then did they truly accept the fact that the Lord Jesus is Christ in the flesh. You could say that it was as if this spiritual body with flesh and blood standing in front of those people then was awakening every one of them from a dream: The Son of man standing in front of them was the One who had existed since time immemorial. He had a form, and flesh and bones, and He had already lived and eaten with mankind for a long time…. At this time, the people felt that His existence was so real, so wonderful; they were also so joyful and happy, and at the same time filled with emotion. And His reappearance allowed people to truly see His humility, to feel His closeness, and His longing, His attachment for mankind. This brief reunion made the people who saw the Lord Jesus feel as if a lifetime had passed. Their lost, confused, afraid, anxious, yearning and numb hearts found comfort. They were no longer doubtful or disappointed because they felt that now there was hope and something to rely on. The Son of man standing in front of them would be behind them for eternity, He would be their strong tower, their refuge for all time.
Although the Lord Jesus was resurrected, His heart and His work had not left mankind. He told people with His appearance that no matter what form He existed in, He would accompany people, walk with them, and be with them at all times and in all places. And at all times and all places, He would provide to mankind and shepherd them, allow them to see and touch Him, and make sure they never again feel helpless. The Lord Jesus also wanted people to know this: Their lives in this world are not alone. Mankind has God’s care, God is with them; people can always lean on God; He is the family of every one of His followers. With God to lean on, mankind will no longer be lonely or helpless, and those who accept Him as their sin offering will no longer be bound in sin. In human eyes, these portions of His work that the Lord Jesus carried out after His resurrection were very small things, but the way I see it, every single thing was so meaningful, so valuable, and they were all so important and weighty.
Although the Lord Jesus’ time of working in the flesh was full of hardships and suffering, through His appearance in His spiritual body of flesh and blood, He completely and perfectly accomplished His work of that time in the flesh to redeem mankind. He began His ministry by becoming flesh, and He concluded His ministry by appearing to mankind in His fleshly form. He heralded the Age of Grace, He began the Age of Grace through His identity as Christ. Through His identity as Christ, He carried out the work in the Age of Grace and He strengthened and led all of His followers in the Age of Grace. It can be said of God’s work that He truly finishes what He starts. There are steps and a plan, and it is full of God’s wisdom, His omnipotence, and His marvelous deeds. It is also full of God’s love and mercy. Of course, the main thread running through all of God’s work is His care for mankind; it is permeated with His feelings of concern that He can never put aside. In these verses of the Bible, in every single thing that the Lord Jesus did after His resurrection, what was revealed was God’s unchanging hopes and concern for mankind, as well as God’s meticulous care and cherishing of humans. Until now, none of this has changed—can you see it? When you see this, doesn’t your heart just automatically become close to God? If you lived in that age and the Lord Jesus appeared to you after His resurrection, in a tangible form for you to see, and if He sat in front of you, ate bread and fish and explained the scriptures to you, spoke with you, then how would you feel? Would you feel happy? How about guilty? The previous misunderstandings and avoidance of God, the conflicts with and doubts of God—wouldn’t they all just disappear? Wouldn’t the relationship between God and man become more proper?
Through interpretation of these limited chapters of the Bible, did you discover any flaws in God’s disposition? Did you discover any adulteration of God’s love? Did you see any craftiness or evil in God’s omnipotence or wisdom? Certainly not! Now can you say with certainty that God is holy? Can you say with certainty that God’s emotions are all a revealing of His essence and disposition? I hope that after you have read these words, what you’ve understood from it will help you and bring you benefits in your pursuit of a change in disposition and a fear of God. I also hope that these words will bear fruit for you that grows by the day, thus in the process of this pursuit bringing you closer and closer to God, bringing you closer and closer to the standard that God requires, so that you are no longer bored of the pursuit of the truth and you no longer feel that the pursuit of the truth and of a change in disposition is a troublesome or a superfluous thing. It is, rather, the expression of God’s true disposition and the holy essence of God that motivate you to long for the light, to long for justice, and to aspire to pursue the truth, to pursue the satisfaction of God’s will, and to become a man gained by God, to become a real person.
Today we’ve talked about some things that God did in the Age of Grace when He was incarnated for the first time. From these things, we’ve seen the disposition that He expressed and revealed in the flesh, as well as every aspect of what He has and is. All these aspects of what He has and is seem very humanized, but the reality is that in essence, all that He revealed and expressed is inseparable from His own disposition. Every method and every aspect of God incarnate expressing His disposition in humanity is inextricably linked with His own essence. So, it is very important that God came unto mankind in the way of incarnation and the work that He did in the flesh is also very important. And, the disposition that He revealed and the will that He expressed are even more important to every person living in the flesh, to every person living in corruption. Is this something that you’re able to understand? After understanding God’s disposition and what He has and is, have you made any conclusions as to how you should treat God? In response to this question, in conclusion I’d like to give you three admonishments: First, do not test God. No matter how much you understand about God, no matter how much you know about His disposition, absolutely do not test Him. Second, do not contend for status with God. No matter what type of status God gives you or what kind of work He entrusts you with, no matter what kind of duty He raises you up to perform, and no matter how much you have spent and sacrificed for God, absolutely do not compete for status with Him. Third, do not compete with God. No matter whether you understand or if you can obey what God does with you, what He arranges for you, and the things He brings to you, absolutely do not compete with God. If you can carry out these three admonishments, then you will be relatively safe, and you will not anger God easily. That’s all to share for today!
July 23, 2014
a. The original text omits “this expression of.”
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