During our last meeting we shared a very important topic. Do you remember what it was? Let Me repeat it. The topic of our last fellowship was: God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself. Is this an important topic to you? Which part of it is most important to you? God’s work, God’s disposition, or God Himself? Which one interests you most? Which part do you want to hear about most? I know it’s difficult for you to answer that question, because God’s disposition can be seen in every aspect of His work, and His disposition is revealed in His work always and in all places, and, in effect, represents God Himself; in God’s overall management plan, God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself are all inseparable from each other.
The content of our last fellowship about God’s work was accounts in that occurred long ago. They were all stories about man and God, and they happened to man and simultaneously involved the participation and expression of God, so these stories hold particular value and significance to knowing God. Just after He created mankind, God began to engage with man and talk to man, and His disposition began to be expressed to man. In other words, from when God first engaged with mankind He began to make public to man, without cease, His substance and what He has and is. Regardless of whether earlier people or the people of today are able to see or understand it, in short God speaks to man and works among man, revealing His disposition and expressing His substance—which is a fact, and undeniable by any person. This also means that God’s disposition, God’s substance, and what He has and is are constantly issued forth and revealed as He works and engages with man. He has never concealed or hidden anything from man, but instead makes public and releases His own disposition without holding anything back. Thus, God hopes that man can know Him and understand His disposition and substance. He does not wish for man to treat His disposition and substance as eternal mysteries, nor does He want mankind to regard God as a puzzle that can never be solved. Only when mankind knows God can man know the way forward and be able to accept God’s guidance, and only a mankind such as this can truly live under the dominion of God, and live in the light, and live amid God’s blessings.
The words and disposition issued forth and revealed by God represent His will, and they also represent His substance. When God engages with man, no matter what He says or does, or what disposition He reveals, and no matter what man sees of God’s substance and what He has and is, they all represent for man. Regardless of how much man is able to realize, comprehend or understand, it all represents God’s will—God’s will for man. This is beyond doubt! God’s will for mankind is how He requires people to be, what He requires them to do, how He requires them to live, and how He requires them to be capable of accomplishing the fulfillment of God’s will. Are these things inseparable from the substance of God? In other words, God issues forth His disposition and all that He has and is at the same time as making demands of man. There is no falsity, no pretense, no concealment, and no embellishment. Yet why is man incapable of knowing, and why has he never been able to clearly perceive the disposition of God? And why has he never realized God’s will? That which is revealed and issued forth by God is what God Himself has and is, and is every shred and facet of His true disposition—so why can’t man see? Why is man incapable of thorough knowledge? There is an important reason for this. And what is this reason? Since the time of creation, man has never treated God as God. In the earliest times, no matter what God did with regard to man, the man that had just been created, man treated Him as nothing more than a companion, as someone to be relied upon, and had no knowledge or understanding of God. Which is to say, he did not know that what was issued forth by this Being—this Being whom he relied upon and saw as his companion—was the substance of God, nor did he know that this Being was the One who rules over all things. Simply put, the people of that time didn’t have the slightest knowledge of God. They didn’t know that the heavens and earth and all things had been made by Him, and they were ignorant of where He came from, and, moreover, of what He was. Of course, back then God did not require man to know Him, or comprehend Him, or understand all that He did, or be informed of His will, for these were the earliest times following mankind’s creation. When God began preparations for the work of the Age of Law, God did some things to man and also began making some demands of man, telling him how to give offerings to and worship God. Only then did man acquire a few simple ideas about God, only then did he know the difference between man and God, and that God was the One who created mankind. When man knew that God was God and man was man, there became a certain distance between him and God, yet still God did not ask that man have a great knowledge or deep understanding of Him. Thus, God makes different requirements of man based on the stages and circumstances of His work. What do you see in this? What aspect of God’s disposition do you perceive? Is God real? Are God’s requirements of man fitting? During the earliest times following God’s creation of mankind, when God had yet to carry out the work of conquest and perfection on man, and had not spoken very many words to him, He asked little of man. Regardless of what man did and how he behaved—even if he did some things that offended God—God forgave it all, and overlooked it all. Because God knew what He had given man, and knew what was within man, thus He knew the standard of requirements that He should make of man. Even though the standard of His requirements was very low at that time, this does not mean that His disposition was not great, or that His wisdom and almightiness were but empty words. For man, there is only one way to know God’s disposition and God Himself: by following the steps of the work of God’s management and salvation of mankind, and accepting the words that God speaks to mankind. Knowing what God has and is, and knowing God’s disposition, would man still ask God to show him His real person? Man will not, and dare not, for having comprehended God’s disposition and what He has and is, man will have already seen the true God Himself, and will have already seen His real person. This is the inevitable outcome.
As God’s work and plan ceaselessly progressed onward, and after God established the covenant of the rainbow with man as a sign that He would never again destroy the world using floods, God had an increasingly pressing desire to gain those who could be of one mind with Him. So, too, did He have an ever more urgent wish to gain those who were able to carry out His will on earth, and, moreover, to gain a group of people able to break free from the forces of darkness, and not be bound by Satan, and able to bear testimony to Him on earth. Gaining such a group of people was God’s long-held wish, what He had been waiting for ever since the time of creation. Thus, regardless of God’s use of floods to destroy the world, or of His covenant with man, God’s will, frame of mind, plan, and hopes all remained the same. What He wanted to do, which He had yearned for long before the time of creation, was to gain those among mankind whom He wished to gain—to gain a group of people able to comprehend and know His disposition, and understand His will, a group who were able to worship Him. Such a group of people is truly able to bear testimony to Him, and they are, it can be said, His confidants.
Today, let us continue retracing the footsteps of God and following the steps of His work, so that we might uncover the thoughts and ideas of God, and everything to do with God, all of which have been “kept in storage” for so long. Through these things we will come to know the disposition of God, understand the substance of God, we will let God into our hearts, and every one of us will slowly come closer to God, reducing our distance from God.
Part of what we talked about last time related to why God established a covenant with man. This time, we will fellowship about the passages of scripture below. Let us begin by reading the scriptures.
1. God Promises to Give Abraham a Son
(Gen 17:15-17) And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give you a son also of her: yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell on his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
(Gen 17:21-22) But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear to you at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
2. Abraham Offers Isaac
(Gen 22:2-3) And he said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him.
(Gen 22:9-10) And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
So, you’ve all just heard the story of Abraham. He was chosen by God after the flood destroyed the world, his name was Abraham, and when he was a hundred years old, and his wife Sarah ninety, God’s promise came to him. What promise did God make to him? God promised that which is referred to in the Scriptures: “And I will bless her, and give you a son also of her.” What was the background to God’s promise to give him a son? The Scriptures provide the following account: “Then Abraham fell on his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” In other words, this aged couple was too old to bear children. And what did Abraham do after God made His promise to him? He fell on his face laughing, and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to him that is an hundred years old?” Abraham believed that it was impossible—which meant that he believed God’s promise to him was nothing more than a joke. From man’s perspective, this was unachievable by man, and likewise unachievable by and an impossibility for God. Perhaps, to Abraham, it was laughable: God created man, yet it turns out that He doesn’t know that someone so old is incapable of bearing children; He thinks He can allow me to bear a child, He says that He will give me a son—surely that’s impossible! And so, Abraham fell on his face and laughed, thinking to himself: Impossible—God is joking with me, this can’t be true! He did not take God’s words seriously. So, in God’s eyes, what kind of a man was Abraham? (Righteous.) Where did you learn that he was righteous? You think that all those whom God calls upon are righteous, and perfect, and people who walk with God. You abide by doctrine! You must see clearly that when God defines someone, He does not do so arbitrarily. Here, God did not say that Abraham was righteous. In His heart, God has standards for measuring every person. Though God did not say what kind of person Abraham was, in terms of his conduct, what kind of faith did Abraham have in God? Was it a little abstract? Or was he of great faith? No, he wasn’t! His laughter and thoughts showed who he was, so your belief that he was righteous is but a figment of your imagination, it is the blind application of doctrine, it is an irresponsible appraisal. Did God see Abraham’s laughter and his little expressions,[a] did He know of them? God knew. But would God alter what He had resolved to do? No! When God planned and resolved that He would choose this man, the matter had already been accomplished. Neither man’s thoughts nor his conduct would in the slightest bit influence or interfere with God; God would not arbitrarily change His plan, nor would He change or upset His plan because of man’s conduct, which might even be foolish. What, then, is written in Genesis 17:21-22? “But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear to you at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.” God paid not the slightest attention to what Abraham thought or said. And what was the reason for His disregard? It was because, at that time, God did not ask that man be of great faith, or that he be capable of great knowledge of God, or, moreover, that he be able to understand what was done and said by God. Thus, He did not ask that man fully understand what He resolved to do, or the people He was determined to choose, or the principles of His actions, for man’s stature was simply inadequate. At that time, God regarded whatever Abraham did and however he conducted himself as normal. He did not condemn, or reprimand, but merely said: “Sarah shall bear Isaac to you at this set time in the next year.” To God, after He proclaimed these words, this matter came true step by step; in the eyes of God, that which was to be accomplished by His plan had already been achieved. And after completing the arrangements for this, God departed. What man does or thinks, what man understands, the plans of man—none of this bears any relation to God. Everything proceeds according to God’s plan, in keeping with the times and stages set by God. Such is the principle of God’s work. God does not interfere in whatever man thinks or knows, yet neither does He forgo His plan, or abandon His work, because man does not believe or understand. The facts are thus accomplished according to the plan and thoughts of God. This is precisely what we see in the Bible: God caused Isaac to be born at the time He had set. Do the facts prove that the behavior and conduct of man hindered the work of God? They did not hinder the work of God! Did man’s little , and his conceptions and imagination about God affect God’s work? No, they did not! Not in the least! God’s management plan is unaffected by any man, matter, or environment. All that He resolves to do will be completed and accomplished on time and according to His plan, and His work cannot be interfered with by any man. God pays no attention to some of man’s foolishness and ignorance, and even ignores some of man’s resistance and conceptions toward Him; instead, He does the work that He must do without scruple. This is God’s disposition, and is a reflection of His omnipotence.
Having given Abraham a son, the words that God had spoken to Abraham were fulfilled. This does not mean that God’s plan stopped here; on the contrary, God’s magnificent plan for the management and salvation of mankind had only just begun, and His blessing of a son to Abraham was but a prelude to His overall management plan. At that moment, who knew that God’s battle with Satan had quietly begun when Abraham offered Isaac?
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