The work of managing mankind is divided into three stages, which means that the work of saving mankind is divided into three stages. These three stages do not include the work of creating the world, but are rather the three stages of the work of the Age of Law, the Age of Grace, and the Age of Kingdom. The work of creating the world was the work of producing the whole of mankind. It was not the work of saving mankind, and bears no relation to the work of saving mankind, for when the world was created mankind had not been corrupted by Satan, and so there was no need to carry out the work of mankind’s salvation. The work of saving mankind only began when mankind had been corrupted, and so the work of managing mankind also only began when mankind had been corrupted. In other words, God’s management of man began as a result of the work of saving mankind, and did not arise from the work of creating the world. It was only after mankind acquired a corrupt disposition that the work of management came into existence, and so the work of managing mankind includes three parts, rather than four stages, or four ages. Only this is the correct way to refer to God’s management of mankind. When the final age comes to a close, the work of managing mankind will have come to a complete end. The conclusion of the work of management means that the work of saving all mankind has been completely finished, and that mankind has reached his journey’s end. Without the work of saving all mankind, the work of managing mankind would not exist, nor would there be the three stages of work. It was precisely because of mankind’s depravity, and because mankind was in such urgent need of salvation, that Jehovah concluded the creation of the world and began the work of the Age of Law. Only then did the work of managing mankind begin, which means that only then did the work of saving mankind begin. “Managing mankind” does not mean guiding the life of mankind, newly created, on earth (which is to say, a mankind that had yet to be corrupted). Rather, it is the salvation of a mankind that has been corrupted by Satan, which is to say, it is to transform this corrupt mankind. This is the meaning of managing mankind. The work of saving mankind does not include the work of creating the world, and so the work of managing mankind does not include the work of creating the world, and only includes three stages of work that are separate from the world’s creation. To understand the work of managing mankind, it is necessary to be aware of the history of the three stages of work—this is what everyone must be aware of in order to be saved. As creatures of God, you should recognize that man was created by God, and should recognize the source of mankind’s corruption, and, moreover, should recognize the process of man’s salvation. If you only know how to act according to doctrine in order to gain God’s favor, but have no inkling of how God saves mankind, or of the source of mankind’s corruption, then this is what you lack as a creature of God. You should not only be satisfied with understanding those truths that can be put into practice, while remaining ignorant of the wider scope of God’s management work—if this is the case, then you are too dogmatic. The three stages of work are the inside story of God’s management of man, the advent of the gospel of the entire universe, the greatest mystery among all mankind, and are also the foundation of spreading the gospel. If you only focus on understanding simple truths that relate to your life, and know nothing of this, the greatest of all mysteries and visions, then is your life not akin to a defective product, good for nothing except being looked at?
If man only concentrates on practice, and sees the work of God and man’s knowledge as secondary, then is this not the same as being penny wise and pound foolish? That which you must know, you must know, and that which you must put into practice, you must put into practice. Only then will you be someone who knows how to pursue the truth. When the day comes for you to spread the gospel, if you are only able to say that God is a great and righteous God, that He is the supreme God, a God with whom no great man can compare, and than whom none is higher…, if you can only say these irrelevant and superficial words, and are utterly incapable of speaking words which are of crucial importance, and which have substance, if you have nothing to say about knowing God, or the work of God, and, furthermore, cannot explain the truth, or provide what is lacking in man, then someone such as you is incapable of performing their duty well. Bearing testimony to God and spreading the gospel of the kingdom is no simple matter. You must first be equipped with the truth, and the visions that are to be understood. When you are clear about the visions and truth of the different aspects of God’s work, in your heart you come to know the work of God, and regardless of what God does—whether it be righteous judgment or refinement of man—you possess the greatest vision as your foundation, and possess the right truth to put into practice, then you will be able to follow God to the very end. You must know that regardless of what work He does, the aim of God’s work does not change, the heart of His work does not change, and His will toward man does not change. No matter how severe His words, no matter how adverse the environment, the principles of His work will not change, and His intention of saving man will not change. Provided that it is not the revelation of the end of man or the destination of man, and is not the work of the final phase, or the work of bringing God’s entire plan of management to an end, and provided that it is during the time He works man, then the heart of His work will not change: It will always be the salvation of mankind. This should be the foundation of your belief in God. The aim of the three stages of work is the salvation of all mankind—which means the complete salvation of man from the domain of Satan. Though each of the three stages of work has a different objective and significance, each is part of the work of saving mankind, and is different work of salvation carried out according to the requirements of mankind. Once you are aware of the aim of these three stages of work, then you will be aware of how to appreciate the significance of each stage of work, and will recognize how to act in order to satisfy the desire of God. If you can reach this point, then this, the greatest of all visions, will become your foundation. You should not only seek after easy ways of practice, or deep truths, but should combine visions with practice, so that there are both truths that can be put into practice, and knowledge that is based on visions. Only then will you be someone that wholly pursues the truth.
Excerpted from The Word Appears in the Flesh