Adhering to Convention — God’s Work Never Change?
By Li Cheng
Recently, I read this story: The State of Chu wanted to make a sneak attack on the State of Song. Seeing that the State of Song lay across the river, the State of Chu sent people to measure the depth of the river to find the shallowest route and make marks in advance. A few days later, the river suddenly rose. However, the State of Chu, without any practical measure, waded across it at night along with the marks made before. As a result, over one thousand soldiers were drowned. The Chu army was terrified and ended up in a fiasco. The Chu army should have crossed the river along with the former marks, while the river rose later, and the situation changed. Nevertheless, they still crossed the river along with the former marks. This was the reason why they failed. This story admonishes people: Situations change constantly. If we don’t make specific analysis on current situations or change strategies with the development of situations, but still solve new problems with stubborn stereotypes, we will definitely end in failure.
Reading this story, I couldn’t help thinking of the Israelites of the Age of Law, especially those chief priests, scribes and Pharisees. They all desperately yearned for the coming of the Messiah, and studied the prophecies concerning that Messiah would come in the Old Testament every day. However, when the , who possesses the substance of the Messiah, came to the earth and carried out a stage of new work in the Age of Grace, these Pharisees holding on to the laws of the Old Testament measured whatever the Lord Jesus did by laws and doctrines. They said that the way of the Lord went beyond the Old Testament and discarded the laws set down by Jehovah. So, they believed that anything within the laws came from God, and that anything beyond the laws did not come from Him. Just like the Bible records: “Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keeps not the sabbath day” (John 9:16). Hence, they rejected the Lord Jesus’ new work. They nailed the innocent to the cross, having charged Him with not following the law of the Old Testament, so they committed an unforgivable and heinous crime. As a result, because of standing still, they became those who resisted and condemned God, and were casted aside and punished by God eventually. We can see that things are always progressing and changing, so is God’s work. We shouldn’t view God’s new work with stereotypes, and shouldn’t check His new work against the old work He did. If not, we won’t keep up with the footsteps of God, but will stray far from Him and end up being eliminated by God.
Today, in the last days, Almighty God has carried out a new work and opened up a new age since the Age of Grace. When God is incarnated again and expresses the truths to do the work of judging and purifying man, how do they, who eagerly long for the return of the Lord, treat God’s new work? Some people don’t conventionally verify God’s new work in the last days against the Lord’s work. Though Almighty God’s work of judging man by the word is totally different from the Lord’s work of bestowing mankind grace, they can put aside old things, seek and investigate God’s new utterances, accept the work of the Holy Spirit today, and keep pace with the latest steps of God’s work. They are those who follow the Lamb’s footsteps. Just like the Bible says: “These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Revelation 14:4). It is, however, not so for some people. They have yearned for the return of the Lord every day. But when the Lord returns to flesh to speak and work on the earth, they say “All of God’s word is in the Bible, any belief beyond or against the Bible is a heresy,” “When the Lord comes, He will still have the name ‘Jesus’ and bestow man grace and blessings,” “The image of the Lord Jesus must be the appearance of a Jew forever, and could never don a Chinese image,” “The Lord is merciful and compassionate; how come He will judge and chastise man after His ,” and so on. These people check each and every one of God’s new work in the last days against the work the Lord did before, and use any inconsistencies to deny God’s new work and utterances in the last days. God is always new and never old; how could He do the same work in different ages? They can define God’s work and words like this; isn’t this because they cling to the old ways extremely?
Almighty God says: “God’s work can change greatly in three or five years, so would not even greater transformations occur over the course of 2,000 years?” (“God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “And so, each time God comes, He is called by one name, He represents one age, and He opens up a new path; and on each new path, He assumes a new name, which shows that God is always new and never old, and that His work is always progressing forward. History is always moving forward, and the work of God is always moving forward. For His six-thousand-year management plan to reach its end, it must keep progressing onward. Each day He must do new work, each year He must do new work; He must open up new paths, must begin new eras, begin new and greater work, and bring new names and new work. The Spirit of God is always doing new work, and never clings to the old ways and regulations. His work also never ceases, and is happening all the time” (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “However, it is because the work of God is ever-changing that those who do not know the work of the Holy Spirit and those absurd men who do not know the truth become opponents of God. Not ever does the work of God conform to the conceptions of man, for His work is always new and never old. Not ever does He repeat work of old but rather forges ahead with work never before done. As God does not repeat His work and man invariably judges the work of God today based on His work of the past, it is exceedingly difficult for God to carry out each stage of work of the new age. Man presents far too many hindrances! The thinking of man is too hidebound!” (“How Can Man Who Has Defined God in His Conceptions Receive the Revelations of God?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “God feels no nostalgia for what He spoke and did in the past; if it is obsolete, then He eliminates it. Surely you are able to let go of your conceptions? If you cling to the words that God spoke in the past, does this prove that you know the work of God? If you are unable to accept the light of the Holy Spirit today, and instead cling to the light of the past, can this prove that you follow the footsteps of God? Are you still unable to let go of religious conceptions? If that is the case, then you will become someone who opposes God” (“Only Those Who Know the Work of God Today Can Serve God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From God’s words, we can see that God is always new and never old, and His work is moving forward and can change greatly in three or five years. To this day, the work of the Lord Jesus has already been two thousand years. Doesn’t God’s work have a new change? Does His work remain in the Age of Grace and never change? If we do not know the principle of “God’s work is always new and never old, and He doesn’t repeat His work” but cling to the old regulations and doctrines and judge God’s work in the last days based on His work in the Age of Grace, we will never accept God’s latest work and words. In the end, because of holding on to God’s work of the past stubbornly, we will, just like the Pharisees in the Age of Law, blindly deny and condemn His work of saving mankind in the last days, and end up sinking to punishment and retribution. Just as God’s words say: “and recall what followed after the Jews nailed Jesus to the cross 2,000 years ago. The Jews were expelled from Israel and fled to countries around the world. Many were killed, and the entire Jewish nation was subjected to unprecedented destruction. They had nailed God to the cross—committed a heinous crime—and provoked the disposition of God. They were made to pay for what they did, were made to bear the consequences of their actions. They condemned God, rejected God, and so they had but one fate: to be punished by God” (“God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
All told, only when we learn lessons from the predecessors’ failure; not clinging to old regulations and doctrines or judging God’s appearance today by His work of the past stubbornly, can we keep pace with the latest footsteps of His work and receive the salvation He bestows to mankind in the last days.