Editor’s note: Western China Covenant College is a Christian liberal arts college started by Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. In June, Li Yingqiang, an elder of Early Rain, wrote a letter to this year’s graduating class.
In this second half of Li’s letter; the first half can be found here. In this letter, he encourages these young believers to clothe themselves in the armor of light and to prepare well for the battles ahead. This excerpt has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
Cast off the works of darkness; put on the armor of light.
Dear students, the night is far gone and the day is at hand. All who are sons of light and of the day should not think only about how to avoid being attacked in darkness. Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Instead, children of the day ought to take on the armor of light to resist the devil’s attacks. They should even take the initiative and attack the devil’s camp.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
The simplest list of the armor of light tells us to “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” (A more complete list is found in Ephesians 6.)
The verses in Romans remind us that the armor of light is not useful if we do not cast off the works of darkness. You cannot worship God and mammon; you cannot pursue a safe and comfortable life and hope to be holy and serve with strength; you cannot live a life filled with emptiness and lust and preach the gospel that delivers men from sin and death. If you actually were able to bring “works of darkness” in harmony with the “armor of light,” then you might become the devil’s vessel to destroy the church.
I am not saying you can achieve complete sanctification. But if you cannot “cleanse yourself from what is dishonorable,” then you will not “be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house.” John Sung Shang Chieh once said, “The holier the heart is, the more powerful the preaching will be…I have received power because I always repent and confess my sins to God.”
Let the world hate you.
In addition to thorough repentance and striving for holiness, there is another secret to spiritual growth: let the world hate you. If you “walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy,” the world of darkness will hate you, because you are not running with them on the path of debauchery.
Dear students, the world is most unable to tolerate Christians because they “walk as in the daytime.” The night is deep indeed, but Christians live like they are in the light. Christians “walk in beautiful dresses at night.” [This Chinese idiom refers to people who have great wealth, but do not let their riches be widely known.] What is more, Christians hold up torches and lanterns so all may see. While crowds “cross the river by feeling the stones,” Christians tell the people that a bridge overhead leads to the other side. While crowds applaud the emperor’s new clothes, Christians speak the truth: he is wearing nothing. When crowds think we are good people, Christians point to the cross and explain the reason for their hope.
These believers live under an authoritarian dictatorship, but they live as if they were in a free and democratic country, as if there were no restrictions on speech or persecution of faith. These Christians live out their faith openly and preach the gospel actively. If their freedom is restricted, they take the gospel to police stations, detention centers, jails and prisons.
“To live as in the daylight” means to measure the value of all things by the standards of daylight and to discipline one’s speech and behavior by the norms of daylight — although doing so is bound to result in hatred and attacks from the world of darkness.
Have your put on your iron suit?
To break through the world’s blockade of crossfire, you need to wear a special suit of iron: the Lord Jesus Christ.
Although Iron Man can destroy anything while wearing his battle suit, Christians who put on Christ become gentle and compassionate. Putting on Christ does not make you more powerful in this world, but gradually changes you into what you will be like in another world. Today, Christ is already in that world. He will surely bring you and me there as well. Put on Christ so you may “walk as in the daytime” when the night is already deep. Put on Christ so you will no longer need to boast of your own strength, but of your weaknesses. By putting on Christ, you will become more and more like Christ.
Christ once put on flesh and blood and became like us, fully human. He gave up his power as God and willingly humbled himself until death on the cross.
Putting on Christ means that his resurrection power enters your life, so you “may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”
Christians are not to become enviable elites in this transitional China, which is full of deep suffering. Instead, we are to suffer with those who suffer and weep with those who weep. The resurrected Christ is the only true hope for sinners. He is the only one on whom we can rely. Only Christians who suffer alongside their countrymen can preach and testify to them the gospel that “all suffer under sin” and “Christ suffers for sinners.”
Dear students, I hope many of you will become vessels the Lord will use. May he send you to be soldiers of his kingdom in the future revival of the church in China, and in the future gospel movement in China.
For this reason, I pray for you. May the Lord give you heaven’s wisdom, so you may search all things and know this present age. Night is far gone, and day is at hand. May you remain spiritually alert, striving for holiness. May the Lord help you resist the love of the world, and make you willing to accept its enmity and hatred. May you put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and die and rise with him every day. May the Lord be with you from the time you leave this college until the day you return to the heavenly city!
Your brother, who desires to strive with you to “live with Christ whether we are awake or asleep,”
June 23, 2022 from Deyang, Sichuan
Elder Li Yingqiang is an elder of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. He and his wife have two children.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for believers to clothe themselves in the armor of light and to prepare well to face the trials of a world that opposes them.