A Grace God Has Given Us: Gospel-Centered Legal Practice

Editor’s note: As Chinese house churches try to respond to the current challenges in the Chinese climate toward religion, knowledge and understanding are in great need. In a 2021 seminar for Chinese Christians, “Gabriel,” a Christian attorney, shared about how and why house churches should adopt a gospel-centered legal framework, and what that means practically for believers and their church communities. He admonished believers to think about why they are suffering, and to use their suffering to make Christ’s gospel known through their suffering.

Parts one and two of this series were previously published. This excerpt has been edited for clarity and length.


“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

Phil. 1:12 – 14

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“God has permitted this in order for the whole imperial guard to know the gospel. The “joint law enforcement” of today is a grace God has given us.

The Whole Imperial Guard

Paul said, “What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel… it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard…that my imprisonment is for Christ.” In today’s language, the word “imprisonment” refers to the loss of personal freedom and suffering from detention. In China, the new Religious Affairs Regulations mention that joint law enforcement is required when enforcing the law. Is that not “the whole imperial guard”?


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Everyone seeks to find fault in you: the National Security Bureau, the Public Security Bureau, the Civil Religious Affairs Bureau, the Education Bureau, the Civil Affairs Bureau, the Street Office, the Village Council, the Neighborhood Council, the Urban Management Bureau, the Administration for Culture, Radio and TV and News and Publishing, the Natural Resources Bureau, the Environmental Protection Bureau, all kinds of bureaus. God has permitted this in order for the whole imperial guard to know the gospel. The “joint law enforcement” of today is a grace God has given us. In the past, you suffered once, and only a few law enforcement officers knew. Now when you suffer, many law enforcement officers know. The rest of the people are watching.

In China, when a church is punished and the punishment is clearly illegal, surrounding people think, “This Jesus cannot be believed. Officers from the Public Security Bureau have come, can they be wrong? Christians must be the ones at fault; they are ignorant and superstitious.” But through filing appeals or lawsuits, even if the appeal is not accepted, everything is made public. If officials say Christians are involved in evil acts, but then do not give them a chance to speak, it is difficult to state who is right and who is wrong. There will be some who are moved by the Holy Spirit at work in their hearts as they watch. They understand the gospel does not bring suffering, and that Christians do not commit crimes in violation of the law.

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“We are paying a very minimal price compared to what our ancestors paid. But nowadays, with social media, the power of dissemination is wide. We are now paying a small price, but we can spread the gospel more broadly. We need to ask the Lord to give us the wisdom.

Bold to Speak and Spread the Gospel

Suffering and warfare for the sake of the gospel achieves two effects: first, the gospel is spread among the Gentiles. The second is effect is being “bold to speak the word without fear.” Have we now had one Christian who was executed for the sake of his faith in the Lord? No. Have people been sentenced for believing in the Lord? Yes, but those are still rare cases. Even administrative detention cases are exceptions to the rule.

Undeniably, there are more fines, bans, and so forth. When compared with Paul, with the early church, with the church of the Reformation, with the historical Chinese church or even with the church of Wang Mingdao’s day, we are paying a very minimal price compared to what our ancestors paid. But nowadays, with social media, the power of dissemination is wide. We are now paying a small price, but we can spread the gospel more broadly. We need to ask the Lord to give us the wisdom to say whether or not we are willing to do this.

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“Pastors, the price you pay may be that you are detained for a few days or that you are financially penalized. But the results you will bring are the ability to preach the gospel and to strengthen the saints. This is the reason we are called.

Once I was in a prayer meeting and saw a sister confessing her sin and repenting. Brothers and sisters were all in tears before God. I thought at that moment, “God’s salvation is so precious that he can save a person.” A church is indeed very valuable. A church can bring blessing and transformation to many lives and many families. Many churches have worked so hard to establish their church, and have shed many tears over the past decades to build up that church. Yet in the face of persecution, that church was destroyed with incredible ease because they were not equipped or because they lowered their vigilance.

Pastors, the price you pay may be that you are detained for a few days or that you are financially penalized. But the results you will bring are the ability to preach the gospel and to strengthen the saints. This is the reason we are called. This is the most critical time. If, by grace, you are able to stand during this period, you may cause a greater revival in your church. But if you flee, if you give up, if you stumble, the whole church will suffer a great loss, and your previous work may not be completed.

May God have mercy on us; we are clearly weak. We preach the gospel, but even more, we rely upon the gospel of Christ.


Gabriel (加百) is a pseudonym for a Chinese Christian who works as an attorney representing believers and churches facing legal challenges.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for God to give Chinese Christians wisdom as to how to use any difficulties they face to honor God and spread the gospel to a watching world.

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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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