Church Life — 3. What are the differences between church life in the Age of Grace and church life in the Age of Kingdom?
Bible Verses for Reference:
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mat 26:26–28).
“And I went to the angel, and said to him, Give me the little book. And he said to me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make your belly bitter, but it shall be in your mouth sweet as honey” (Rev 10:9).
Relevant Words of God:
When, in the Age of Grace, God returned to the third heaven, God’s work of redeeming all of mankind had actually already moved into its closing act. All that remained on earth were the cross that Jesus carried, the fine linen that Jesus was wrapped in, and the crown of thorns and scarlet robe that Jesus wore (these were objects the Jews used to mock Him). That is, the work of Jesus’ crucifixion had caused an uproar for a time and then had settled down. From then on, Jesus’ disciples began to carry His work forward, shepherding and watering in the churches everywhere.
The content of their work was this: to have all people repent, admit their sins, and be baptized; the apostles all spreading the inside story of Jesus’ crucifixion and what actually happened, everyone not being able to help but fall down before Jesus to admit their sins, and furthermore the apostles spreading everywhere the words Jesus spoke and the laws and commandments He established. From that point began the building of churches in the Age of Grace.
from “Work and Entry (6)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
All the work done by man consists of performing his duty as a created being and is done when moved or enlightened by the Holy Spirit. The guidance that these men provide consists entirely of showing man the path of practice in daily life and how he should act in harmony with the will of God. The work of man neither involves the management of God nor represents the work of the Spirit. As an example, the work of Witness Lee and Watchman Nee was to lead the way. Be the way new or old, the work was premised upon the principle of remaining within the Bible. Whether it was to restore the local church or build the local church, their work had to do with establishing churches. The work they did carried on the work that Jesus and His apostles had left unfinished or had not further developed in the Age of Grace. What they did in their work was to restore what Jesus had in His early work asked of the generations coming after Him, such as keeping their heads covered, receiving baptism, breaking bread, or drinking wine. It could be said that their work was to keep to the Bible and to seek paths within the Bible. They made no new advances of any kind. Therefore, one can see in their work only the discovery of new ways within the Bible, as well as better and more realistic practices. But one cannot find in their work the present will of God, much less find the new work that God in the last days plans to do. This is because the path they walked was still an old one; there was no renewal and no advancement. They continued to hold onto the fact of the crucifixion of Jesus, to observe the practice of asking people to repent and confess their sins, to adhere to the sayings that he who endures to the end shall be saved and that man is the head of woman, and woman must obey her husband, and even more to the traditional conception that sisters cannot preach, but only obey.
from “The Mystery of the Incarnation (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In the past, during the special gatherings or the grand gatherings that were held in various places, only one aspect of the path of practice was spoken of. Such practice was that which was to be put into practice during the Age of Grace, and scarcely bore any relation to the knowledge of God, for the vision of the Age of Grace was only the vision of Jesus’ crucifixion, and there were no greater visions. Man was supposed to know no more than the work of His redemption of mankind through the crucifixion, and so during the Age of Grace there were no other visions for man to know. In this way, man had only a scant knowledge of God, and apart from the knowledge of Jesus’ love and compassion, there were but a few simple and pitiful things for him to put into practice, things that were a far cry from today. In the past, no matter what form his assembly, man was incapable of speaking of a practical knowledge of God’s work, much less was any able to clearly say which was the most suitable path of practice for man to enter upon. He merely added a few simple details to a foundation of forbearance and patience; there was simply no change in the substance of his practice, for within the same age God did not do any newer work, and the only requirements He made of man were forbearance and patience, or bearing the cross. Apart from such practices, there were no higher visions than the crucifixion of Jesus.
from “God’s Work and Man’s Practice” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Whenever such religious people congregate, they ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She replies, “I feel indebted to God and that I am unable to fulfill His heart’s desire.” Another says, “I, too, am indebted to God and unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within their hearts. Such words are the most loathsome and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such men opposes God. Those who focus on reality communicate whatever is in their hearts and open their hearts in communication. There is not a single false exercise, no civilities or empty pleasantries. They are always straightforward and observe no earthly rules. There are those who have a penchant for outward display, even without any sense. When another sings, he begins to dance, not even realizing that the rice in his pot has already burned. Such manner of men are not godly or honorable, and are far too frivolous. These are all manifestations of the lack of reality. When some people commune about the matters of life in the spirit, though they speak not of indebtedness to God, they retain a true love for Him within their hearts. Your indebtedness to God has nothing to do with others; you are indebted to God, not man. So what use is it for you to constantly speak of this to others? You must place importance on entering into reality, not outward zeal or display.
from “Believing in God Should Focus on Reality, Not Religious Rituals” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
“Sharing and communing experiences” means speaking of every thought in your heart, your state, your experiences and knowledge of God’s words, as well as the corrupt disposition within you. And after that, others discern these things, and accept the positive and recognize that which is negative. Only this is sharing, and only this is truly communing. It does not simply mean having insights into the words of God or a part of a hymn, and communing as you please and then not taking it any further, and not saying anything related to your own actual life. Everyone talks about doctrinal and theoretical knowledge and says nothing of knowledge drawn from actual experiences. You all avoid talking about such things, about your personal lives, about your life in the church with your brothers and sisters, and about your own inner world. By doing this, how can there be true communication between people? How can there be real trust? There cannot be any! If brothers and sisters are to be able to confide in each other, help each other out, and provide for one another when they are together, then each person must speak of their own true experiences. If you don’t talk of your own true experiences, and only speak high-sounding words, and words that are doctrinal and superficial, then you are not an honest person, and you are incapable of being honest.
from “The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person” in Records of Christ’s Talks
When you bear witness to God, you should mainly talk more about how God judges and chastises people, what trials He uses to refine humans and change humans’ disposition, how much you have endured, how much rebellion and corruption within you has been revealed, and in what ways you have resisted God. Then you can talk about how you are eventually conquered by God and how you should repay God. Put substance into this kind of language, and put it in a simple way. Don’t equip yourselves with profound-seeming, empty theories to flaunt yourselves. That looks quite arrogant and senseless. Speaking more of factual things from practical experiences, of the words from your hearts is what most benefits others and is most suitable for them to see. You used to be those who opposed God the most, those who were least inclined to obey God, but today you’ve been conquered — never forget that. Matters of this aspect require diligent reflection. Think more on these things, lest you commit shameless and senseless acts.
from “The Basic Sense Which Man Ought to Possess” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Of principal importance in following God is that everything should be according to the words of God today: Whether you are pursuing entry into life or the fulfillment of God’s will, everything should be centered around the words of God today. If what you commune and pursue are not centered around the words of God today, then you are a stranger to the words of God, and totally bereft of the work of the Holy Spirit. What God wants are people who follow His footsteps. No matter how wonderful and pure what you understood before is, God does not want it, and if you are unable to put aside such things, then they will be a tremendous obstacle to your entry in the future. All those who are able to follow the present light of the Holy Spirit are blessed. … “Following the work of the Holy Spirit” means understanding the will of God today, being able to act in accordance with the present requirements of God, being able to obey and follow the God of today, and entering in accordance with the newest utterances of God. Only this is someone who follows the work of the Holy Spirit and is in the stream of the Holy Spirit. Such people are not only capable of receiving God’s praise and seeing God, but can also know God’s disposition from the latest work of God, and can know man’s conceptions and disobedience, and man’s nature and substance, from His latest work; furthermore, they are able to gradually achieve changes in their disposition during their service. Only people such as this are those who are able to gain God, and who have genuinely found the true way.
from “Know the Newest Work of God and Follow the Footsteps of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Source From: The Church Of Almighty God