We Will Follow

Editor’s note: These remarks were given at the close of a pastor’s gathering in China. The meeting focused on the church in the wilderness, with a particular focus on the perseverance of the saints.

Although in recent years the situation in China has become more difficult for Christians, the pastors at this gathering talked about their desire for God to raise up more believers who can minister in the church and plant more believing communities. They are scattered across China, but united in their common identity as those who belong to the kingdom of God.


 The Source of Our Salvation

The Lord Most High is the source of our salvation, and the completion of our salvation relies on his unchanging nature, his faithfulness, and his great power. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches; apart from him, we can do nothing. May the Lord give us a heart full of humility and draw us ever closer to himself, so we can deepen our trust in his faithfulness.

I also pray that the Lord, our glorious Savior, would help us gaze more deeply into the glory of the Trinity. May we worship and enjoy him more deeply. May his glory draw our hearts closer to him every day. Let us continue to focus on his beauty.

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“Do not focus on how persecution will develop or on fighting persecution, but instead on what God wants us to do.

May we be more committed to the Lord’s church, love the Lord’s church, and value the building of gospel community. In a true gospel community, we can share our weaknesses and use the gospel to mutually support one another. May we more deeply put our faith into practice in daily life. This applies to daily Bible reading, prayer, family worship, building each other up as married couples, the workplace, discipleship, daily gospel conversations, forgiving each other, and more—especially in the midst of persecution. Do not focus on how persecution will develop or on fighting persecution, but instead on what God wants us to do.


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Finally, may gospel hope more deeply drive our ministry. Let us pray for missions, for church planting and evangelism, and for God’s kingdom to continually expand. God will be glorified in his church and in Christ Jesus. May more church planters and evangelists rise up from this new generation, so we may strengthen and support one another as we zealously serve our Lord.

The Rope of Love

Brothers and sisters, the road ahead may become more difficult. A passage in Pilgrim’s Progress describes a time when Christian was swallowed up and sinking in the deep waters of a river. In his panic, the water was about to overwhelm him. Christian had a companion called Help, who took him by the arm, shouting, “Brother, don’t be afraid! I can touch the bottom!”

Brother Spurgeon commented that this is exactly what the Lord Jesus does for us in the midst of our trials. Jesus wraps his arms around us and points upward, saying, “Don’t be afraid!” The water may be deep, but there is good underneath. Our Savior went to the lowest depths of suffering for us, and he stood on the ground underneath the water and said, “Brothers, do not be afraid! I have touched the ground under the water!” This is the true foundation of the eternal preservation and constant perseverance of the saints. Our Savior promised that he loves us, and he will love us to the end.

Li Jianghuang was a member of the house church in the previous generation. He was labeled a rightist in the 1950s, and was taken to the infamous Jiabiangou Labor Camp to be reformed. He survived. Although many have heard of Shanghai writer Yang Xianhui, who wrote a series of works about the hardships experienced in Jiabiangou, most people are not familiar with Li’s memoirs about his experiences at the labor camp. He wrote, “In order to deeply understand my suffering in Jiabiangou, it is necessary to write out the whole process of my life. God guided me from childhood up until I went to the camp. I write so readers can see there is a rope of salvation and love that has been running through my whole life.”

This rope of love has a beginning and end, and for Li, the rope passed through Jiabiangou’s valley of the shadow of death. The miracles and wonders described are made clear through the deep, penetrating power of love. Li did not title his memoirs The Chronicles of the Sufferings of Jiabiangou, but rather The Journey of Grace. Li’s words powerfully reflect the attitude of a Christian who goes through suffering. What is left in our lives is not a chronicle of suffering, but rather a journey of grace. This should be a Christian’s vow after experiencing suffering, and it should also be our vow when faced with suffering: we will follow the loving and faithful Savior into the depths of the waters. This is a journey of perseverance and of grace.

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“What is left in our lives is not a chronicle of suffering, but rather a journey of grace. This should be a Christian’s vow after experiencing suffering, and it should also be our vow when faced with suffering: we will follow the loving and faithful Savior.

Do We Belong to Him?

May we continually be strengthened and encouraged by truths such as the perseverance of the saints. J.C. Ryle [a former bishop of Liverpool] said, “True Christians shall persevere in their religion to the end of their lives. They shall never perish. They shall never be lost. They shall never be cast away. Once in Christ, they shall always be in Christ.”

At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves: “Am I really a saint who belongs to the Lord?” No one who belongs to the Lord will be lost. Do we belong to him? If you are one of his saints, are you willing to let him use you according to his will?

May the Lord lead us into the depths of the waters. May he be glorified every day: in our forum, in our daily following, in our obedience, in our service, in our grateful worship, in our self-sacrificing mission and church planting, in our love for the children around us, and in everything that we do.

All glory be to God. Amen.


Paul Peng is the pastor of Blessings Reformed Presbyterian Church, a Chinese house church.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for God to uphold Chinese Christians and help them to persevere in their faith.

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: A Relational Gospel
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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

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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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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