THE SHALLOW AND SEALED CONDITION OF CHRISTIANITY
A number of times people have brought me to take a tour of manufacturing plants, showing me all the interior furnishings and machinery, but I could not understand the things I saw, nor was I interested in them. While people were explaining to me, in my heart I was probably considering the significance of Exodus chapter nineteen. Since I was “absent- minded,” I could not understand one bit of what I saw. Today the Bible, including the last book, Revelation, is already in our hands. In this sense the Bible should be an unveiling, a revelation, yet many professors and students of theology as well as pastors and ministers still cannot understand the meanings in the depths of the Bible, even though they study it every day.
Last year when I returned here, I bought a copy of the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs appended. Westerners like to add Psalms at the back of the New Testament; the purpose of this is to teach people how to be devout as well as to instruct them how to pray, praise, and endure sufferings. The majority of the Chinese like maxims, and according to my knowledge, the best maxims in the world are found in the book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible. Therefore, the Chinese added Psalms and Proverbs at the back of the New Testament. Three days ago, having a little leisure time, I opened such a New Testament that I bought recently and discovered two pictures printed at the end. One picture shows a palace, a cobweb hanging from its wall, and a small creature crawling on the cobweb. The Scripture cited is Proverbs 30:28, which says, “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces” (King James Version). A small creature crawls on a cobweb, yet she lives in a king’s palace. This is man’s knowledge of the Proverbs. The other picture shows a heap of thorns and nettles and a pile of stones; the Scripture verse cited is Proverbs 24:31, which says, “And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; / Its surface was covered with nettles, / And its stone wall was broken down.” Why was it so desolated? The following verses say, “When I looked, I considered it; / I saw it and received instruction: / A little sleep, a little slumber, / A little folding of the hands to rest, / And your poverty will come upon you like a robber, / And your want, like an armed man” (vv. 32-34). I am very familiar with these verses. Over sixty years ago a famous traveling preacher in China wrote a message, entitled, “The Evil Consequences of a Sluggard,” based upon these verses. As a newly saved one, I was deeply moved after reading that message; I felt that I should not be lazy anymore but should work diligently instead. I often asked myself, “Is there a heap of thorns or nettles on the ground of my house? Is there a pile of stones and mud? If so, clean up!” That was my condition in the first year after I was saved. Gradually, however, when I studied the Bible in a deeper way, I stopped paying attention to the thorns, nettles, and fallen stones. Instead, all I saw was the economy, the mystery, and the vision of God.
Dear brothers and sisters, please consider: You have the New Testament here, and you also have Psalms and Proverbs here, but at the end these two pictures are printed. What does this show? It shows that people have seen only this much. The vision they have received is that a small creature crawls on the wall and lives in the palace and that we should not be lazy but be diligent instead. Furthermore, in America some famous preachers are preaching on television, “The Secret of Success,” teaching people how to open factories and manage banks by trusting in God and praying to the Lord that they may have a successful enterprise, become prosperous, and make a lot of money. The live audience consists mostly of businessmen in their thirties or forties. They are greatly encouraged and recognize that Jesus is believable and God is worthy of their worship. They believe that all they need is to worship and believe in God and their business will prosper and be successful. This is the fallen and pitiful condition of today’s Christianity.
SPEAKING THE ECONOMY OF GOD AND THE MYSTERY OF HUMAN LIFE
Today you are serving the Lord full-time, but I would like to ask you: In your full-time work for the Lord what do you preach to people? Do you tell people how restful it is that a small creature crawls on the wall yet lives in the palace? Or do you tell them that the evil consequences of the sluggard are thorns, nettles, and fallen stones? Or do you tell them the secret to a successful business? What do you preach when you go out to knock on doors? You need to preach the economy of God and the mystery of human life.
Not too long ago when I went back to Anaheim, I heard two testimonies on door-knocking in a Chinese-speaking meeting. One brother said that he testified for twenty minutes about how he escaped by swimming from the mainland China to Hong Kong. Some were moved by his testimony and expressed their desire to believe in the Lord, but no one was baptized. Another two brothers testified that they met someone during their door-knocking. They wanted to preach the gospel to him, but he said he had no time. The brothers said, “It will take only a few minutes.” Then they opened the booklet, The Mystery of Human Life, and read a paragraph with him. They went on to tell him that God has an economy and that man was created with three parts—spirit, soul, and body, with the spirit being the innermost part into which God desires to enter and dwell. In less than fifteen minutes that person was baptized in a saint’s house nearby. Brothers and sisters, which one of the two testimonies would you imitate? Only the blind, due to their ignorance, would appreciate the first testimony. By this you can see that when you go into people’s homes, you should not give lengthy testimonies or speak your own words. Moreover, you should not talk about the small creature in the kings’ palaces or about not being lazy. You should present The Mystery of Human Life to people and lead them to contact the Lord’s word directly. This is the secret of today’s preaching of the gospel by door-knocking to lead people to believe, be baptized, and be saved.
(The Revelation and Vision of God, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)