Climate system models are useful tools for understanding the interactions among the components of the climate system and predicting/projecting future climate change. The development of climate models has been a central focus of the State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (LASG/IAP) since the establishment of the laboratory in 1985. In China, many pioneering component models and fully coupled models of the climate system have been developed by LASG/IAP. The fully coupled climate system developed in the recent decade is named FGOALS (Flexible Global Ocean-Atmosphere-Land System Model). In this paper, an application-oriented review of the LASG/IAP FGOALS model is presented. The improved model performances are demonstrated in the context of cloud-radiation processes, Asian monsoon, ENSO phenomena, Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and sea ice. The FGOALS model has contributed to both CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project-phase 5) and IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) AR5 (the Fifth Assessment Report). The release of FGOALS data has supported the publication of nearly 500 papers around the world. The results of FGOALS are cited ~106 times in the IPCC WG1 (Working Group 1) AR5. In addition to the traditional long-term simulations and projections, near-term decadal climate prediction is a new set of CMIP experiment, progress of LAGS/IAP in the development of near-term decadal prediction system is reviewed. The FGOALS model has supported many Chinese national-level research projects and contributed to the national climate change assessment report. The crucial role of FGOALS as a modeling tool for supporting climate sciences is highlighted by demonstrating the model’s performances in the simulation of the evolution of Earth’s climate from the past to the future.