Under the trees beside the road to the suburbs, there was a two-story house with a courtyard surrounded by low elms. The white iron fence made the house stand out in the peaceful place at the foot of a hill and beside a stream. This was the house of Huang Shoudao. On a Sunday, Zhao Mei, Liu Zhong, and Li Tao came to Huang’s house.
Huang Shoudao took them to his study and asked his daughter, Huang Jiayin, to pour water for them. He could tell something was up from the anxiety on Zhao Mei’s face, and then asked with a burden, “Sister Zhao, how is the circumstance of the brothers and sisters at your meeting place?”
Zhao Mei sighed, “The brothers and sisters are all dispirited and spiritually weak. Many of them cannot overcome the temptation of evil trends and so, they cling to money and carnal pleasures, engage in one-upmanship, and follow the things of the world, just as the unbelievers do. Some are absent from meetings for several weeks, and I’ve tried many times to support them, but that has been fruitless. They always make a pile of excuses. For example, their children have grown up and they have to earn money to buy them cars and houses so that they are too busy with their business to go to gatherings. Some agree to attend meetings but none of them appears in the next meeting. Alas! I see the brothers and sisters living in such a state yet I’m not able to support them; I’m really indebted to the Lord! To be honest, forget about the brothers and sisters—even I am thirsty and in darkness spiritually. I don’t feel the Lord by my side through my prayers, I don’t feel moved when reading the Bible, and there is no new light in my sermons. I’ve been in such a state for a long time now. If things carry on this way, how can I give an account to the Lord? Recently, I have been uneasy in my heart. We believe in the Lord but have lost His presence—this is a signal of danger! I don’t think we can force ourselves to continue like this, we must think of something.”
Huang Shoudao said with a sad face, “Think of something? These years we have tried everything to revive the church: fasting and praying together, co-workers taking turns praying, holding revival meetings and dinner meetings, inviting preachers of other churches to give sermons, and even preparing various programs to raise the church’s spirit lest brothers and sisters feel the meetings are dry. However, these ways only made the church look lively from the outside, but when the novelty wore off, everything turned into what it used to be. I’ve reached out to the elderly preachers of other churches about how to revive the church as well, but they had no good ideas either. They just said that everything embodied the Lord’s good intentions and that we should patiently wait for the Lord’s coming.”
Huang Shoudao’s words made everybody silent. At this moment Liu Zhong’s eyes lit up—it seemed that something occurred to him—and he said, “At the mention of the Lord’s coming, it reminds me of something. Recently, I’ve heard that a particular church is testifying the Lord’s return and that many good sheep and head sheep of other denominations have investigated and accepted it. I think if the Lord has really come back but we fail to follow His footsteps, we will surely be abandoned by Him. We should also waste no time in investigating and only then can we know whether the Lord has come back or not. Just as thesaid: ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7).”
“Ah, we only tried hard to think of a way by ourselves, but why didn’t we think of walking the path that the Lord has pointed out for us?” Huang Jiayin, slapping her forehead, said excitedly, “I agree with Brother Liu. If the Lord has really returned, we should even more so go out and seek it. We can’t continue to hang around stupidly—”
Without waiting for Huang Jiayin to finish, Huang Shoudao interjected, “This is how I see it: If the Lord has come back, we really should go out to seek. But come to think of it, we all have been preachers for many years, and we’ve been upholding the Lord Jesus’ name, working hard for Him and shepherding the flock. We have suffered much hardship and have paid a high price. When the Lord returns, how could He not first give revelation to us?”
Li Tao listened to Huang Shoudao carefully and nodded, saying, “Yes, what Brother Huang said is right. All these years, we’ve toiled, worked, forsaken, and expended for the Lord, through the wind and rain, and we’ve been vigilantly awaiting His. I also think that the Lord will first give revelation to us when He returns. He will not abandon us.”
Then everyone fell silent again—this issue confused not only Huang Shoudao and Li Tao, but also other people present. Frowning, Liu Zhong looked at Huang Shoudao and Li Tao, and said, “I have some different views on this. You think that as we work hard and forsake and expend for the Lord, He will first give us revelation when He comes back. Does this not come from your own notions or imaginations? Let’s recall how the Jewish Pharisees traveled across land and sea to spread the way of God. During that time, they suffered greatly and paid a steep price, so they believed that they would be the most qualified to obtain God’s inspiration first when the Messiah came to work. They, living in their own imaginations, didn’t modestly seek or investigate at all. Even though they had seen with their own eyes that the Lord Jesus could make the blind see, the lame walk, and the lepers healed, and bring the dead back to life, they still stubbornly clung to their own imaginations and didn’t acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah, the coming One. Not only did they themselves not accept the Lord Jesus, but they led believers to defy and reject Him, and even crucified Him upon the cross. In the end, those Pharisees, who labored and worked, not only didn’t receive God’s revelation, but on the contrary, were cursed by God. Just as the Lord Jesus said, ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves’ (Matthew 23:15). The lesson of the Pharisees’ failure must be taken as a warning!” Hearing this, Huang Shoudao and Li Tao looked at each other.
Zhao Mei nodded and said, “Now that Brother Liu put it that way, I think that must be true! I’m reminded of the original disciples of the Lord Jesus, such as Peter, John, and Matthew. They were only able to recognize that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah after hearing Him preach for some time with a heart that thirsts and seeks. And even though Peter recognized that the Lord Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, that was after he had been following the Lord Jesus for some time and had heard Him preach for some time and had some knowledge of Him in his heart. Only then did he receive a revelation from the Holy Spirit and was he able to recognize the Lord Jesus’ true identity. I think with regard to welcoming the coming of the Lord, we should treat this issue with care. The Lord Jesus said, ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). At the end of the last days, when we hear someone testify to the Lord’s return, we should have a heart that thirsts for and seeks the truth and be the wise virgins who heed the Lord’s voice. This is the only way we’ll be able to welcome the return of the Lord.”
After hearing Zhao Mei’s words, Huang Jiayin, who had been listening to others’ fellowship quietly, said immediately, “I agree with Sister Zhao. We should be wise virgins and pay attention to hearing the Lord’s voice in welcoming His return. In Revelation God said many times, ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ From this we can see that God works through utterance of His word to find His sheep. Doesn’t it mean that all those who hear and understand God’s voice are the wise virgins? In other words, those who do not listen to or do not understand God’s voice must be the foolish virgins.”
Hearing this, Huang Shoudao said to himself, “The wise virgins? The foolish virgins? Will I become a foolish virgin? I’ve read the Bible my whole life and have suffered so much for the Lord. Could it be that when the Lord comes, He will not give revelation to me first?” Huang Shoudao shook his head mournfully.
Liu Zhong said sincerely, “Brother, we believers in God should seek the truth in all things and use God’s words as a basis; we cannot live in our own notions and imaginations. The Lord Jesus said long ago, ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me’ (John 10:27). ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me’ (Revelation 3:20). If when the Lord returns He would reveal to us directly so that we would believe in Him, then why did He still say that His sheep hear His voice? Aren’t they contradictory? God determines whether we are of God based upon whether we can recognize God’s voice. Those that do not receive God’s revelation and yet still recognize God’s voice and directly accept Him are the truly blessed. So, in studying the true way, receiving God’s revelation is not important, the key is whether or not we can recognize thein His words. Only those who realize that is all truth and accept God, are true believers, lovers of truth and those that thirst for God’s appearance. If we only blindly wait to receive God’s revelation and do not look to listen to His voice, then we are foolish virgins who are eliminated by God. The Lord Jesus said, ‘For whoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted’ (Luke 14:11). We think that since we are well-versed in the Bible and toil and work for the Lord, when the Lord returns He will first give revelation to us and thus we needn’t actively look to listen to God’s voice. Isn’t this just excessive arrogance and self-importance? Can we fathom God’s deeds? Who among us can be His counselor? How are we qualified in any way to ask God to first enlighten us? If we live constantly within our own conceptions and imaginings and don’t seek and investigate with an open mind, I’m afraid that in the end we not only won’t receive God’s revelation, but will be cursed and forsaken by God for resisting and refusing His work, like the Pharisees.”
Then, Zhao Mei said, “The Lord Jesus once said: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). We should be the ones who seek the truth with an open heart as God requires; we should focus on hearing the voice of God like a clever virgin. This is the sense we should have before God.”
Huang Shoudao bowed his head in deep thought, without saying a word.
After a long time, Huang Shoudao nodded his head silently and sighed, saying, “I’ve thought about it just now and realize that what you say makes sense. The notion I’ve held on to that the Lord must reveal it to me when He arrives, really does not have a basis in the Lord’s word. I’ve already waited all of these years but haven’t got any revelations. You’ve fellowshiped that we should be people who humbly seek, this accords with the Lord’s teaching.”
Li Tao nodded his head and said, “Yes. It seems that only people who humbly seek and focus on hearing God’s voice are wise virgins.”
They went on talking merrily. The chirps of the birds outside drifted into the room, which were melodious and cheerful.