My entire management plan, which spans six thousand years, consists of three phases, or three ages: first, the Age of Law; second, the Age of Grace (which is also the Age of Redemption); and finally, the Age of Kingdom. My work in these three ages differs according to the nature of each age, but at each stage it accords with man’s needs—or rather, it varies according to the tricks that Satan employs in My war against it. The purpose of My work is to defeat Satan, to make manifest My wisdom and omnipotence, to expose all Satan’s tricks and thereby to save all of humanity, which lives under its domain. It is to show My wisdom and omnipotence while at the same time revealing the hideousness of Satan. Moreover, it is to teach My creations to discriminate between good and evil, to recognize that I am the Ruler of all things, to see clearly that Satan is humanity’s foe, the lowest of the low, the evil one, and to make the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood, holiness and filth, greatness and baseness, as clear as day. This way, ignorant humanity may bear witness to Me that it is not I who corrupt humanity, and only I——can save humanity, can bestow upon them things for enjoyment; and they may come to know that I am the Ruler of all things and Satan is merely one of My creations, which later turned against Me. My six-thousand-year management plan is divided into three stages in order to achieve the following effect: to allow My creations to be My witnesses, to know My will, to see that I am the truth. Thus, during the initial work of My six-thousand-year management plan, I did the work of the law, which was the work of Jehovah leading the people. The second stage was to begin the work of the Age of Grace in the villages of Judea. Jesus represents all the work of the Age of Grace; He was incarnated and crucified, and inaugurated the Age of Grace. He was crucified in order to complete the redemptive work, to end the Age of Law and begin the Age of Grace, and so He was called the “Supreme Commander,” the “Sin Offering,” the “Redeemer.” Thus the work of Jesus differed in content from the work of Jehovah, though they were the same in principle. Jehovah began the Age of Law, established the home base, the birthplace, of His work on earth, and issued the commandments; these were His two accomplishments, which represent the Age of Law. Jesus’ work was not to issue commandments, but to fulfill the commandments, thereby heralding the Age of Grace and concluding the Age of Law which lasted two thousand years. He was the trailblazer, ushering in the Age of Grace, yet redemption remained the core of His work. And so His accomplishments were also twofold: opening up a new age, and completing the redemptive work through His crucifixion. Then He departed. At that point, the Age of Law came to an end and mankind entered into the Age of Grace.
Jesus’ work was done in accordance with the needs of man in that age. His task was to redeem humanity, to forgive them of their sins, and so all His disposition was one of humility, patience, love, piety, forbearance, mercy, and lovingkindness. He blessed humanity richly and brought them grace in abundance, and all things for enjoyment: peace and happiness, Jesus’ tolerance and love, His mercy and lovingkindness. In those days, all that man encountered was an abundance of things to enjoy: His heart was at peace and reassured, his spirit was consoled, and he was sustained by the Savior Jesus. That he could gain these things was a consequence of the age in which he lived. In the Age of Grace man had been corrupted by Satan, and so the work of redeeming all humanity required an abundance of grace, infinite forbearance and patience, and even more, an offering adequate to atone for humanity’s sins. What people saw in the Age of Grace was merely My sin offering for humanity, Jesus. And they knew only that God could be merciful and forbearing, saw only Jesus’ mercy and lovingkindness. This was because they lived in the Age of Grace. So before they could be redeemed, they had to enjoy much grace that Jesus bestowed on them; only this was beneficial to them. This way, they could be forgiven of their sins through their enjoyment of grace, and could have the chance to be redeemed through enjoying Jesus’ forbearance and patience. Only through Jesus’ forbearance and patience were they capable of receiving forgiveness and enjoying the abundance of grace bestowed by Jesus—just as Jesus said, “I have come not to redeem the righteous but sinners, allowing their sins to be forgiven.” If Jesus had been incarnated with the disposition of judgment, curse, and intolerance of man’s offenses, then man would never have had the chance to be redeemed, and would have remained forever sinful; and so the six-thousand-year management plan would have progressed no farther than the Age of Law. The Age of Law would have gone on for six thousand years, man’s sins would have grown greater in number and more grievous, and the creation of humanity would have been for naught. Men would only have been able to serve Jehovah under the law, but their sins would have exceeded those of the first created humans. The more Jesus loved mankind, forgiving them of their sins and giving them enough mercy and lovingkindness, the more mankind was capable of being saved, called the lost lambs that Jesus bought back at a great price. Satan could not meddle in this work, because Jesus treated His followers as a loving mother treats the infant in her arms. He did not grow angry at them or despise them, but was full of consolation; He never got furious among them, but forbore with their sins and turned a blind eye to their foolishness and ignorance, such that He said, “Forgive others seventy times seven times.” So His heart reformed the hearts of others, and in this way did the people receive forgiveness through His forbearance.
Though Jesus, being God incarnate, was utterly without emotion, He always comforted His disciples, provided for them, helped them, and sustained them. No matter how much work He did or how much suffering He endured, He never made excessive demands of the people, but was always patient and forbearing of their sins, such that in the Age of Grace He was affectionately known as “lovable Savior Jesus.” To the people of that time—to all people—what Jesus had and was, was mercy and lovingkindness. He never remembered people’s transgressions or let their transgressions affect how He treated them. Because that was a different age, He often bestowed plentiful food and drink upon the people so that they could eat their fill. He treated all His followers kindly, healing the sick, driving out demons, raising the dead. In order that the people would believe in Him and see that all that He did was done earnestly and sincerely, He went so far as to resurrect a rotting corpse, showing them that in His hands even the dead could come back to life. In this way He endured silently among them and did His redemptive work. Even before He was nailed to the cross, Jesus had already borne the sins of humanity and become a sin offering for mankind. He had already opened the way to the cross in order to redeem mankind before He was crucified. At last He was nailed to the cross, sacrificed Himself for the sake of the cross, and He bestowed all of His mercy, lovingkindness, and holiness upon mankind. He persisted in tolerating people, never seeking revenge, but forgiving them of their sins, exhorting them to repent, teaching them to have patience, forbearance, and love, to follow in His footsteps and sacrifice themselves for the sake of the cross. His love for the brothers and sisters exceeded His love for Mary. The principle of His work was to heal the people and drive out their demons, all for the sake of His redemption. No matter where He went, He treated all who followed Him with kindness. He made the poor rich, the lame walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear; He even invited the lowliest and most destitute, the sinners, to dine with Him, not shunning them but always being patient, even saying, “When a shepherd loses one sheep out of a hundred, he will leave behind the ninety-nine to seek the one lost sheep, and when he finds it he will rejoice greatly.” He loved His followers as a ewe loves its lambs. Though they were foolish and ignorant, and were sinners in His eyes, and furthermore were the dregs of society, He saw these sinners—whom others despised—as the apple of His eye. Since He favored them, He gave up His life for them, as a lamb was offered on the altar. He went among them like their servant, letting them use Him and slaughter Him, submitting to them unconditionally. To His followers He was the lovable Savior Jesus, but to the Pharisees who lectured the people from a high pedestal He did not show mercy and lovingkindness, but He loathed and detested them. He did not do much work among the Pharisees, only occasionally lectured them and rebuked them; He did not redeem them, or perform signs and wonders among them. He reserved His mercy and lovingkindness for His followers, enduring for the sake of these sinners till the very end when He was nailed to the cross, bearing every humiliation until He fully redeemed all humanity. This was the sum total of His work.
Without Jesus’ redemption, mankind would forever live in sin, and become the children of sin, the descendants of demons. If that continued, Satan would take up residence on earth, and all the earth would become its habitation. But the redemptive work required mercy and lovingkindness toward mankind; only through it could mankind receive forgiveness and at last be qualified to be made complete and fully gained. Without this stage of work, the six-thousand-year management plan would not have been able to go forward. If Jesus had not been crucified, if He had only healed the people and exorcised their demons, then the people could not have been completely forgiven of their sins. The three and a half years that Jesus did His work on earth completed only half of His redemptive work; then by being nailed to the cross and becoming the likeness of sinful flesh, by being handed over to the evil one, He completed the work of crucifixion and mastered mankind’s destiny. Only after He was delivered into Satan’s hands was mankind redeemed. For thirty-three and a half years He suffered on earth, was ridiculed, slandered, and forsaken, was even left with no place to lay His head, no resting place; then He was crucified, His whole being—an immaculate and innocent body—being nailed to the cross, and underwent all manner of suffering. Those in power mocked Him and whipped Him, and the soldiers even spat in His face; yet He remained silent and endured until the end, submitting unconditionally to the point of death, whereupon He redeemed all of humanity and thereby was permitted to rest. The work of Jesus represents only the Age of Grace; it does not represent the Age of Law and is no substitute for the work of the last days. This is the essence of Jesus’ work in the Age of Grace, the second age of mankind—the Age of Redemption.
from The Word Appears in the Flesh