1. Beholding the Appearance of God in His Judgment and Chastisement
Like hundreds of millions of other followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we abide by the laws and commandments of the Bible, enjoy the abundant grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and gather together, pray, praise, and serve in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—and all this we do under the care and protection of the Lord. We are often weak, and often strong. We believe that all of our actions are in accordance with the teachings of the Lord. It goes without saying, then, that we also believe ourselves to walk the path of obedience to the will of the Father in heaven. We long for the return of the Lord Jesus, for the glorious arrival of the Lord Jesus, for the end of our life on earth, for the appearance of the kingdom, and for everything as it was foretold in the Book of Revelation: The Lord arrives, and brings disaster, and rewards the good and punishes the wicked, and takes all those who follow Him and welcome His return into the air to meet Him. Every time we think of this, we can’t help but be overcome with emotion. We are thankful that we were born in the last days and are lucky enough to witness the coming of the Lord. Though we have suffered persecution, it is in return for “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”; what a blessing that is! All of this longing and the grace bestowed by the Lord make us often sober unto prayer, and bring us together more often. Maybe next year, maybe tomorrow, or maybe even sooner when man does not expect it, the Lord shall suddenly arrive, and shall appear among a group of people who have been attentively waiting for Him. We are all contending with each other, none wanting to fall behind, in order to be the first group to behold the appearance of the Lord, to become one of those who shall be raptured. We have given everything, regardless of the cost, for the coming of this day. Some have given up their jobs, some have abandoned their families, some have renounced marriage, and some have even donated all of their savings. What selfless devotion! Such sincerity and loyalty must be beyond even the saints of ages past! As the Lord bestows grace upon whomever He wishes, and has mercy on whomever He wishes, our devotion and spending, we believe, have already been beheld by His eyes. So, too, have our heartfelt prayers already reached His ears, and we trust that the Lord will reward us for our devotion. Moreover, God was graceful toward us before He created the world, and none shall take away God’s blessings and promises to us. We are all planning for the future, and take it for granted that our devotion and spending are bargaining chips or stock for our rapture into the air to meet the Lord. What’s more, without the slightest hesitation, we place ourselves on the future throne, presiding over all nations and all peoples, or ruling as kings. All this we take as a given, as something to be expected.
We disdain all those who are against the Lord Jesus; in the end, they will all be annihilated. Who told them not to believe that the Lord Jesus is the Savior? Of course, there are times when we learn from the Lord Jesus and are compassionate toward the world, for they do not understand, and we should be tolerant and forgiving of them. Everything that we do is in accordance with the words of the Bible, for everything that does not conform to the Bible is heresy, and an evil cult. Such belief is deeply embedded in each of our minds. Our Lord is in the Bible, and if we do not depart from the Bible we shall not depart from the Lord; if we abide by this principle, then we shall be saved. We spur each other on, and support each other, and every time we gather together we hope that everything we say and do is in accordance with the will of the Lord, and can be accepted by the Lord. Despite the severe hostility of our environment, our hearts are filled with joy. When we think of the blessings that are within such easy reach, is there nothing we cannot forsake? Is there nothing we cannot bear to part with? All of this is implicit, and all of this is looked upon by the eyes of God. We, the handful of the needy who have been lifted from the dunghill, are the same as all ordinary followers of the Lord Jesus: We dream of rapture, and of being blessed, and of ruling all the nations. Our corruption is laid bare in the eyes of God, and our desires and greed are condemned in the eyes of God. Yet all of this happens so unremarkably, so logically, and none of us wonder whether our longing is right, much less do any of us doubt the accuracy of all that we hold to. Who can know God’s will? We do not know to seek, or explore, or even concern ourselves with the path that man walks. For we only care about whether we can be raptured, whether we can be blessed, whether there is a place for us in the kingdom of heaven, and whether we shall have a share of the water of the river of life and the fruit of the tree of life. Do we not believe in the Lord, and are we not followers of the Lord, for the sake of gaining these things? Our sins have been forgiven, we have repented, we have drunk the bitter cup of wine, and we have put the cross upon our back. Who can say that the price we have paid will not be accepted by the Lord? Who can say that we have not prepared enough oil? We don’t want to be those foolish virgins, or one of those who are forsaken. Moreover, we pray often, and ask the Lord to keep us from being deceived by false Christs, for it is said in the Bible that “Then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:23-24). We have all committed these verses of the Bible to memory, we know them back to front, and we see them as precious treasure, as life, and as the credentials for our rapture and salvation …
For thousands of years, the living have passed away, taking their longings and dreams with them, and no one truly knows whether they have gone to the kingdom of heaven. The dead return, and they have forgotten all the stories that once occurred, and still follow the teachings and the paths of the forefathers. And so, as the years pass and the days go by, no one knows whether our Lord Jesus, our God, truly accepts all that we do. We simply look forward to an outcome and speculate about all that will happen. Yet God has kept His silence throughout, and has never appeared to us, or spoken to us. And so we willfully judge God’s will and disposition according to the Bible and the signs. We have become accustomed to the silence of God; we have become accustomed to measuring the rights and wrongs of our behavior using our own way of thinking; we have become accustomed to using our knowledge, conceptions, and moral ethics to replace God’s demands of us; we have become accustomed to enjoying the grace of God; we have become accustomed to God providing assistance whenever we need it; we have become accustomed to holding out our hands to God for all things, and to ordering God about; we have also become accustomed to following doctrine, not paying attention to how the Holy Spirit leads us; moreover, we have become accustomed to days in which we are our own master. We believe in a God such as this, whom we have never met. Questions such as what His disposition is like, what His possessions and being are, what His image is like, whether or not we will know Him when He comes, and so on—none of these are important. What’s important is that He is in our hearts, that we all await Him, and that we are able to imagine what He is like. We appreciate our faith, and treasure our spirituality. We consider everything as dung, and tread all things underfoot. Because we are the followers of the glorious Lord, no matter how long and arduous the journey, no matter what hardships and dangers befall us, nothing can halt our footsteps as we follow the Lord. “A pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeded out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. On either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bore twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:1-5). Every time we sing these words, our hearts brim with surpassing joy and satisfaction, and tears flow from our eyes. Thanks be to the Lord for choosing us, thanks be to the Lord for His grace. He has given us a hundredfold now in this time, has given us eternal life in the world to come, and if He asked us to die now, we would do so without the slightest complaint. Lord! Please come soon! Do not delay a minute longer, for we desperately yearn for You, and have forsaken everything for You.
God is silent, and has never appeared to us, yet His work has never stopped. He looks upon all lands, and commands all things, and beholds all the words and deeds of man. His management is conducted in steps and according to His plan. It proceeds silently, without dramatic effect, yet His footsteps advance ever closer to mankind, and His judgment seat is deployed in the universe at the speed of lightning, immediately followed by the descent of His throne among us. What a majestic scene that is, what a stately and solemn tableau. Like a dove, and like a roaring lion, the Spirit arrives among us all. He is wise, He is righteous and majestic, He quietly arrives among us possessed of authority and filled with love and compassion. No one is aware of His arrival, no one welcomes His arrival, and, moreover, no one knows all that He will do. Man’s life remains unchanged; his heart is no different, and the days go by as usual. God lives among us like an ordinary person, as a most insignificant follower and an ordinary believer. He has His own pursuits, His own goals, and, moreover, He has divinity not possessed by ordinary men. No one has noticed the existence of His divinity, and no one has perceived the difference between His substance and that of man. We live together with Him, unconstrained and unafraid, for we see Him as nothing more than an insignificant believer. He watches our every move, and all of our thoughts and ideas are laid bare before Him. No one takes an interest in His existence, no one has any imagination of His function, and, moreover, no one has any suspicion about who He is. We merely continue our pursuits, as if He has nothing to do with us …
By chance, the Holy Spirit expresses a passage of words “through” Him, and though it feels very unexpected, we recognize that this is the utterance of God, and we readily accept it from God. That is because, regardless of who expresses these words, as long as they come from the Holy Spirit we should accept them, and cannot deny them. The next utterance could be through me, it could be through you, or it could be through him. Regardless of who it is, all is the grace of God. Yet no matter who the person is, we should not worship them, for regardless of anything else, they cannot possibly be God; we can by no means choose an ordinary person such as this to be our God. Our God is so great and honorable; how could He be represented by someone so insignificant? What’s more, we are all awaiting the arrival of God to take us back to the kingdom of heaven, and so how could someone so insignificant be qualified for such an important and arduous task? If the Lord comes again, it must be upon a white cloud, visible to all. How glorious that will be! How could He quietly hide among an ordinary group of people?
And yet it is this ordinary person hidden among people who is doing the new work of saving us. He does not clarify anything for us, nor does He tell us why He has come. He merely does the work He intends to do in steps, and according to His plan. His words and utterances become ever more frequent. From consoling, exhorting, reminding, and warning, to reproaching and disciplining; from a tone that is gentle and kind, to words that are fierce and majestic—they all instill both compassion and trepidation in man. Everything that He says hits home at the secrets hidden deep within us, His words sting our hearts, sting our spirits, and leave us ashamed and humiliated. We begin to wonder whether the God in this person’s heart really loves us, and what exactly He intends to do. Perhaps we can only be raptured after enduring such pain? In our heads we are calculating … about the destination to come, and about our future fate. Still none of us believes that God has assumed flesh and works among us. Even though He has been with us for so long, even though He has already spoken so many words face to face with us, we are still unwilling to accept someone so ordinary as the God of our future, much less are we willing to entrust control of our future and fate to someone so insignificant. From Him we enjoy an unending supply of living water, and thanks to Him we live face-to-face with God. We are only thankful for the grace of the Lord Jesus in heaven, and have never paid any attention to the feelings of this ordinary person who is possessed of divinity. He still does His work humbly hidden in the flesh, expressing His heart’s voice, seemingly insensible to mankind’s rejection of Him, apparently eternally forgiving of man’s childishness and ignorance, and forever tolerant of man’s irreverence toward Him.
Unbeknownst to us, this insignificant man has led us into step after step of God’s work. We undergo countless trials, are subjected to innumerable chastenings, and tested by death. We learn of God’s righteous and majestic disposition, enjoy, too, His love and compassion, come to appreciate God’s great power and wisdom, witness the loveliness of God, and behold God’s eager desire to save man. In the words of this ordinary person, we come to know the disposition and substance of God, come to understand God’s will, come to know the nature and substance of man, and see the way of salvation and perfection. His words cause us to die, and cause us to be reborn; His words bring us comfort, yet also leave us wracked with guilt and a sense of indebtedness; His words bring us joy and peace, but also great pain. Sometimes we are as lambs to the slaughter in His hands; sometimes we are like the apple of His eye, and enjoy His love and affection; sometimes we are like His enemy, turned to ashes by His wrath in His eyes. We are the mankind saved by Him, we are the maggots in His eyes, and we are the lost lambs that He thinks of finding day and night. He is merciful toward us, He despises us, He raises us up, He comforts and exhorts us, He guides us, He enlightens us, He chastens and disciplines us, and He even curses us. He worries for us night and day, He protects and cares for us night and day, He never leaves our side, and He devotes all His care to us and pays any price for us. Among the words of this small and ordinary flesh, we have enjoyed the entirety of God, and beheld the destination that God has bestowed upon us. Yet despite this, vanity still stalks within our hearts, and we are still unwilling to actively accept a person such as this as our God. Though He has given us so much manna, so much to enjoy, none of this can usurp the Lord’s place in our hearts. We honor this person’s special identity and status only with great reluctance. If He does not speak up to make us acknowledge that He is God, then we will never take it upon ourselves to acknowledge Him as the God that is soon to arrive yet has been working among us for so long.
The utterance of God continues, and He employs various methods and perspectives to admonish us what to do and express His heart’s voice. His words carry life power, and show us the way we should walk, and allow us to understand what the truth is. We start to be drawn to His words, we begin to focus on the tone and manner of His speaking, and subconsciously begin to take an interest in the heart’s voice of this unremarkable person. He makes painstaking efforts for us, loses sleep and appetite for us, weeps for us, sighs for us, groans in sickness for us, suffers humiliation for the sake of our destination and salvation, and His heart bleeds and sheds tears for our numbness and rebelliousness. Such being and possessions of His are beyond an ordinary person, and cannot be possessed or attained by any of the corrupted. He has tolerance and patience possessed by no ordinary person, and His love is not possessed by any created being. No one apart from Him can know all of our thoughts, or have such a grasp of our nature and substance, or judge the rebelliousness and corruption of mankind, or speak to us and work among us like this on behalf of the God of heaven. No one except for Him can possess the authority, wisdom, and dignity of God; the disposition of God and what He has and is are issued forth, in their entirety, from Him. No one apart from Him can show us the way and bring us light. No one apart from Him can reveal the mysteries God has not disclosed from creation until today. No one apart from Him can save us from Satan’s bondage and our corrupt disposition. He represents God, and expresses the heart’s voice of God, the exhortations of God, and the words of judgment of God toward all mankind. He has begun a new age, a new era, and brought a new heaven and earth, new work, and He has brought us hope, and ended the life we led in vagueness, and allowed us to fully behold the path of salvation. He has conquered our whole being, and gained our hearts. From that moment onward, our minds become conscious, and our spirits seem to be revived: This ordinary, insignificant person, who lives among us and has long been rejected by us—is He not the Lord Jesus, who is ever in our thoughts, and whom we long for night and day? It is He! It’s really Him! He is our God! He is the truth, the way, and the life! He has allowed us to live again, to see the light, and has stopped our hearts from wandering. We have returned to the home of God, we have returned before His throne, we are face-to-face with Him, we have witnessed His countenance, and have seen the road ahead. At the time, our hearts have been completely conquered by Him; we no longer doubt who He is, and no longer oppose His work and word, and we fall down, completely, before Him. We wish for nothing except to follow the footprints of God for the rest of our lives, and to be made perfect by Him, and to repay His grace, and repay His love for us, and to obey His orchestrations and arrangements, and to cooperate with His work, and to do everything we can to complete what He entrusts to us.
Being conquered by God is like a martial arts contest.
Each of God’s words strikes at our mortal spot, and leaves us sorrowful and afraid. He reveals our notions, reveals our imaginations, and reveals our corrupt disposition. Through all that we say and do, and every one of our thoughts and ideas, our nature and substance are revealed by His words, leaving us humiliated and trembling with fear. He tells us of all of our actions, our aims and intentions, and even the corrupt disposition that we have never discovered, making us feel we are thoroughly exposed, and even more feel completely convinced. He judges us for our opposition to Him, chastises us for our blasphemy and condemnation of Him, and makes us feel that in His eyes we are worthless, and we are the living Satan. Our hopes are dashed, we no longer dare to make any unreasonable demands and attempts upon Him, and even our dreams vanish overnight. This is a fact that none of us can imagine, and which none of us can accept. For a moment, our minds become unbalanced, and we do not know how to continue on the road ahead, do not know how to continue in our beliefs. It seems like our faith has gone back to square one, and that we have never met and been acquainted with the Lord Jesus. Everything before our eyes perplexes us, and makes us feel as if we have been cast adrift. We are dismayed, we are disappointed, and deep in our hearts there is insuppressible anger and disgrace. We try to vent, try to find a way out, and, what’s more, we attempt to continue waiting for our Savior Jesus, and pour our hearts out to Him. Though there are times when we are neither haughty nor humble on the outside, in our hearts we are afflicted with a sense of loss like never before. Though sometimes we may seem unusually calm on the outside, inside we endure rolling seas of torment. His judgment and chastisement have stripped us of all our hopes and dreams, have left us without our extravagant desires, and unwilling to believe that He is our Savior and capable of saving us. His judgment and chastisement have opened up a deep gulf between us and Him and no one is even willing to cross. His judgment and chastisement are the first time that we suffer such a great setback and such great humiliation. His judgment and chastisement have allowed us to truly appreciate God’s honor and intolerance of man’s offense, compared to which we are so lowly and impure. His judgment and chastisement have made us realize for the first time how arrogant and pompous we are, and how man will never be the equal of God, or on a par with God. His judgment and chastisement have made us yearn to no longer live in such a corrupt disposition, and have made us long to rid ourselves of such nature and substance as soon as possible, and no longer be detested by Him and disgusting to Him. His judgment and chastisement have made us happy to obey His words, and no longer willing to rebel against His orchestrations and arrangements. His judgment and chastisement have once more given us the desire to seek life, and have made us happy to accept Him as our Savior…. We have walked out of the work of conquest, stepped out of hell, stepped out of the valley of the shadow of death…. Almighty God has gained us, this group of people! He has triumphed over Satan, and defeated all of His enemies!
We are just such an ordinary group of people possessed of corrupt satanic disposition, we are the ones predestined by God before the ages, and we are the needy whom God has lifted from the dunghill. We once rejected and condemned God, yet now we have been conquered by Him. We have received life and have received the way of eternal life from God. No matter where we are on earth, despite persecution and tribulation, we cannot be apart from the salvation by Almighty God. For He is our Creator, and our only redemption!
The love of God extends forth like the water of a spring, and is given to you, and to me, and to him, and to all those who truly seek the truth and await the appearance of God.
Just as the moon always follows the sun, the work of God never ceases, and is carried out upon you, upon me, upon him, and upon all those who follow the footprints of God and accept the judgment and chastisement of God.
Expressed on March 23, 2010
from The Word Appears in the Flesh