Saturday, 24 November 2018

MESSAGE FROM ST PAUL : STAYING AT YOUR POST

Staying at Our Post
Companions as we are in this work with you,
we beg you,
please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us.
God reminds us,
I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me,
I was there to help.
Well,
now is the right time to listen,
the day to be helped.
Don’t put it off;
don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late,
throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing.
Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—
in the details.
People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly,
unswervingly . . .
in hard times,
tough times,
bad times;
when we’re beaten up, jailed,
and mobbed;
working hard,
working late,
working without eating;. with pure heart,
clear head,
steady hand;
in gentleness,
holiness,
and honest love;
when we’re telling the truth,
and when God’s showing his power;
when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised,
and when we’re blamed; slandered,
and honored;
true to our word,
though distrusted; ignored by the world,
but recognized by God; terrifically alive,
though rumored to be dead;
beaten within an inch of our lives,
but refusing to die; immersed in tears,
yet always filled with deep joy;
living on handouts, yet enriching many;
having nothing,
having it all.
Dear, dear Corinthians,
I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open,
spacious life.
We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way.
I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection.
Open up your lives.
Live openly and expansively!
Don’t become partners with those who reject God.
How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong?
That’s not partnership; that’s war.
Is light best friends with dark?
Does Christ go strolling with the Devil?
Do trust and mistrust hold hands?
Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple?
But that is exactly what we are,
each of us a temple in whom God lives.
God himself put it this way:
“I’ll live in them, move into them;
I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
leave it for good,” says God.
“Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.
I want you all for myself.
I’ll be a Father to you;
you’ll be sons and daughters to me.”
The Word of the Master, God.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

THE MARK OF A METHODIST ( A BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN) by John Wesley

What then is the mark? 
Who is a Methodist, according to your own account?" 
I answer: A Methodist is one who has "the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him;" 
One who "loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength. 
God is the joy of his heart, 
And the desire of his soul; 
Which is constantly crying out, 
"Whom have I in heaven but thee? 
And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee! 
My God and my all! 
Thou art the strength of my heart, 
And my portion for ever!"

He is therefore happy in God, 
Yea, always happy, 
As having in him "a well of water springing up into everlasting life," 
And overflowing his soul with peace and joy. 
"Perfect love" having now "cast out fear," 
he "rejoices evermore." 
He "rejoices in the Lord always," 
Even "in God his Saviour;" 
And in the Father, 
"Through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
By whom he hath now received the atonement." 
"Having" found "redemption through his blood, 
The forgiveness of his sins," 
He cannot but rejoice, 
Whenever he looks back on the horrible pit out of which he is delivered; 
When he sees "all his transgressions blotted out as a cloud, 
And his iniquities as a thick cloud." 
He cannot but rejoice, 
Whenever he looks on the state wherein he now is; 
"Being justified freely, 
And having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." 
For "he that believeth, hath the witness" 
Of this "in himself;" being now the son of God by faith. 
"Because he is a son, 
God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into his heart, 
Crying, 
Abba, Father!" 
And "the Spirit itself beareth witness with his spirit, 
That he is a child of God." 
He rejoiceth also, whenever he looks forward, 
"In hope of the glory that shall be revealed;" 
yea, 
This his joy is full, 
And all his bones cry out, 
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
Who, 
According to his abundant mercy, 
Hath begotten me again to a living hope -- 
Of an inheritance incorruptible, 
Undefiled, 
And that fadeth not away, 
Reserved in heaven for me!"

Roger Foster - A Reasoned Belief

God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters A.W.Tozer

God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters,
All mind and mind,
All spirit and all spirits,
All being and every being,
All creaturehood and all creatures, 
Every plurality and all pluralities,
All law and every law, all relations,
All causes,
All thoughts,
All mysteries,
All enigmas,
All feeling,
All desires,
Every unuttered secret,
All thrones and dominions,
All personalities,
All things visible and invisible in heaven and in earth,
Motion,
Space,
Time,
Life,
Death,
Good,
Evil,
Heaven,
And
Hell.
A.W.Tozer

Robert Murray McCheyne, Comfort in Sorrow

“Some of you seek for faith much in the same way as you would dig for a well. 
You turn the eye inward upon yourself and search amidst the depths of your polluted heart to find if faith is there; 
you search amid all your feelings at sermons and sacraments to see if faith is there; 
and still you find nothing but sin and disappointment. 
Learn Martha's plan. 
She looked full in the face of Jesus;
she saw his dust-soiled feet and sullied garment,
and his eye of more than human tenderness.
She drank in his word:
'I am the resurrection and the life';
and in spite of all she saw and all she felt,
she could not but believe.
The discovery that Jesus made of his love and power,
as the head of dead believers and the head of living believers, revived her fainting soul,
and she cried:
'Yea, Lord, I believe.'
Faith comes by hearing the voice of Jesus.”
― 

Praying For The Unsaved By J. G. McClure




Intelligent prayer for the unsaved should bear in mind that they need to be saved from their unconcern.
Many, many are going the way of death heedlessly. They eat, drink and play; they labor, they sleep--and all the while secondary things are the end and aim of their living. Many a man is like Jonah--not a profligate, but simply a deserter from duty. Jonah slept on that storm tossed vessel--disloyal as he was to himself, to his fellows and to his God. Above the storm the shipmaster’s cry was needed: "What meanest thou, O sleeper, arise and call upon thy God if so be that God will think upon us that we perish not." Jonah’s safety was dependent upon an awakening.
The first thing we must ask God to do is to make them think. In answer to Stephen’s prayer God stopped Saul on his way to Damascus and forced him to realize his position. Thus God aroused him from his unconcern.
Prayer for the unsaved should bear in mind that they need to be saved from their error.
This thought was especially prominent in Paul’s mind when he prayed for his own kinsmen. Their views of religion were wrong. They thought it impossible that a penitent so soon as he came to God could be forgiven and welcomed. They held that through prayers, tithes and sacrifices the sinner must work out his own perfection and thus make himself worthy of God’s blessing. They were in error. No one, though he lives a thousand years of effort, can ever, of himself, become perfect. For acceptance God does not require perfection, but penitence. God simply asks the soul to see in Jesus Christ the righteousness which God freely offers, and then to appropriate that righteousness.
There is widespread need of the prayer, "Save them from error." Missionaries in lands of idolatry need to have it on their lips daily. The people around them misconceive the nature of God and misconceive the methods of reconciling with Him. As the missionaries realize the superstitions of the heathen they exclaim again and again, "Come, Lord, in Thy power and deliver the people from their blindness."
The prayer is equally needed in Gospel lands. Many persons hear the truth all their days and still remain ignorant of its meaning. Satan is a jealous jailer. He holds fast many souls in such beliefs as that the faults of others are an excuse for their own deficiency; that ideals of conduct adopted without reference to divine revelation are all that are required; that cherished grudges are of small import; and that postponement of obedience to God is safe. All such beliefs keep people back from salvation. They darken the eyes of the understanding and often lead lives into immorality.
Prayer for the unsaved should bear in mind that they need to be saved from their sin.
To be saved from sin is to be saved from its guilt, its power and its corruption. Sin is the violation of God’s law. To violate human law renders the violator guilty.
It is fearful to be guilty before God. Guilt is cruelty toward God and peril toward ourselves. Cruelty toward God because it means willful resistance to the most tender of all tender hearts, peril toward ourselves, because were final judgment to be pronounced immediately, our guilt would be our condemnation. He who loves a soul that is in sin will pray that it be saved from sin’s guilt.
He will pray too that it be saved from sin’s power. The power of sin is seen in the drunkard. His drunkenness is his master. In the morning he wishes always to be sober; in the evening he is again a captive to his drunkenness. So too with the habitual thief, or slanderer, or backslider; they are held prisoners by their sins. Many a sweet spirited person when asked to be a Christian replies, "I cannot. My will breaks down every time I try."
Then there is the corruption of sin. Sin is a malaria in the soul: it vitiates taste, it weakens strength, it spoils appetite for good. Sin crazes reason: it causes Barabbas to seem preferable to Christ. Under the corruption of sin men take "naturally" to evil. Unless that corruption is checked, it, like leprosy with the body, pollutes the whole system. No one can check it but God. Even He can check it only by making of man a new creature--with a new disposition and a new purpose. This God is glad to do. "A new heart will I give you" (Ezek. 36:26). This promise God has fulfilled thousands and thousands of times.
Prayer for the unsaved should bear in mind that they need to be saved from their alienation.
The prodigal boy in the far country is away from home and fellowship. The prayer that he may be saved involves more than deliverance from wrong: it involves also adoption of right. It asks that the boy may receive his Father’s kiss and welcome, that the sense of God’s love may flow in on his soul, that peace may be established between him and God, and that fellowship with his Father may be forever his. To be saved is to be delivered out of the life of evil and brought into the life of God, so that the sunlight seems brighter than ever before and the feast of the Lord is the strength of the soul.
-- From Intercessory Prayer.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FOLLOW UP AFTER CONVERSION By William Neece


I. What Is “follow-up”? Follow-up has been defined as “the conservation, maturation, and multiplication of the fruit of evangelism.” Winning people to Christ and building them up in Christ are inseparably linked together in the Scriptures. There is no continuing New Testament evangelism without follow-up.
The Apostle Paul sets for the goal of all follow-up: “For those whom He foreknew, of whom He was aware and loved beforehand, He also destined from the beginning (foreordaining them) to be molded into the image of His Son (and share inwardly His likeness), that He might become the first-born among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29 Amplified Bible). Again he writes: “His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), (that they should do) the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), (that it might develop) until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the full knowledge of the Son of God, that (we might arrive) at really mature manhood—the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection—the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ, and the completeness found in Him” (Eph. 4:12-13 Amplified Bible).
God calls every Christian to be both and obstetrician and pediatrician. Follow-up is “spiritual pediatrics.” Newborn babies do not grow automatically. They must have love, food, care and training. Follow-up is the parental care given to new converts to bring them to spiritual maturity and fruitfulness. Remember that neglected children usually get sick, and they often die. Or, if they live, many of them become delinquent. The same thing happens spiritually.
Paul considered himself a spiritual parent to those he won to faith in Christ. To the Corinthians he said, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech, be ye followers of me” (1 Cor. 4:15-16). To the Galatians he said, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). To the Thessalonians he said, “Ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, Who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:11-12).
II. Why should we follow-up? Babes in Christ have four basic needs, and these needs show the four-fold responsibility of every spiritual person.
1. The need for love. Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that ye should love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12). Spiritual parents are to love their spiritual children as Christ loved them. This love is the basic necessity for successful parenthood, and it is usually missing when follow-up fails. Christ-like love must be the foundation of all attempts to give parental care to spiritual babies. Parenthood without love produces unbalanced, distorted lives. And since knowledge must precede love, time should be spent with the new Christian to get to know him and love him. This love will grow as Christ is shared week to week.
2. The need for nourishment. The babe in Christ needs to be fed regularly with the right kind of food. Jesus commanded Peter three times, “Feed My lambs . . . feed My sheep . . . feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). We must have the right formula for infant feeding. The Bible says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2).
3. The need for protection. The new convert is in open season for all the attacks and ravages of Satan, and can easily be crippled spiritually for life. The Bible says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Also, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:14-15). Satan is far more dangerous as a mock angel than as a roaring lion, and his first aim is to separate the new Christian from the Word of God. He tries to starve him into weakness, thus keeping him from availing himself of God’s promises.
4. The need for training. The spiritual parent must train the new convert to build his life with eternal materials on the one foundation of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul set forth two tests of successful training:
a. Walking in Christ (when the pressure is on). He said, “For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain” (1 Thess. 3:5). If they were not living in victory, Paul felt his work among them had been in vain.
b. Witnessing for Christ (sharing their faith). He said, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the Word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain neither labored in vain” (Phil. 2:15-16). Unless they were witnessing by life and lip to those in darkness, Paul felt his work among them had been in vain.
III. How should we follow-up? All follow-up should be done on a personal level, and the New Testament sets forth four methods of doing it.
1. By personal contact. This was the chief method of our Lord, and of the Apostle Paul. We read of Jesus that “He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3:14). The “with him” principle was dominant in Paul’s ministry. In fact, his prime reason for living was follow-up. He said, “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Phil. 1:23-24). Just as Jesus fed the multitudes, there is need for follow-up classes, but no class will ever substitute for the personal contact needed in building disciples to evangelize the world.
2. By personal prayer. Both Jesus and Paul spent much time in personal prayer for new believers. If we are interceding we will follow-up.
3. By personal representatives. When Paul was unable to visit the churches, he sent other men in his place. He spent much time with them to train them, then sent them. He wrote to the Philippians, “I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go shortly” (Phil. 2:19-24).
4. By personal correspondence. Much of the New Testament consists of personal letters to Christians to encourage, teach, and guide them in their new faith. Many churches today are sending follow-up letters and Bible Studies to their new converts. This work demands a price in money, time, prayer, and discipline, but the results are eternal.
This article is an excerpt from Dr. Neece’s booklet “How to Care for New Converts,” pp 1-3, and available from Reformation Publishers.

10 Non-Obnoxious Ways to Share Your Faith at Work Use these ideas to help you integrate faith and work. Kelli B. Trujillo


I have an acquaintance, "Alice," who has been fired twice for witnessing at work. Well, that's how she explains it. Perhaps a better explanation may be that Alice's approach to evangelism is "in your face."
If there were a caricature of an evangelical on the popular show The Office, Alice would fit the bill perfectly. She embodies all the negative stereotypes our culture has about evangelical Christians: she's judgmental of all things secular, she frequently refers to "the Lord" in any and all conversations, she gets so pumped up when talking about her faith that her behavior borders on the bizarre, she's completely (and purposefully) out of touch with culture, and she regularly asks co-workers and customers alike what would happen to them if they got in a car accident while leaving the store. Would God let them into heaven or would they burn in hell?
Alice considers any attempt by a supervisor to get her to "tone down" her evangelism at work as persecution, spurring her on to even more zealous proselytizing. In a word, Alice is obnoxious.
None of us want to be like Alice, so we hop on the pendulum and take a ride as it swings far in the other direction. Instead of going overboard with evangelism at work, our efforts to share our faith may be more "subtle" and "nuanced." They may be so subtle, in fact, that they're imperceptible.
Or we may be waiting—for the right opportunity, the right relationship, the right line of conversation. The trouble comes when we're waiting for a really long time … like years.
How can we share our faith with co-workers while maintaining a high-level of integrity about what's appropriate at the workplace? Here are 10 non-obnoxious ideas:
1. As you deepen friendships with co-workers, ask sincere questions and truly listen in a spirit of caring as they share about their lives. When appropriate, tell others you're praying for them. (Then make sure you actually do pray!)
2. Make it a daily habit to pray as you drive to work or as you walk into the office; ask God to help you see your workplace as a mission field.
3. Refuse to hide or play-down the importance of your faith. When it naturally fits a conversation, freely talk about the role your church, prayer, Scripture, and Christian community have in your life. Let others see the joy and purpose you find in your faith.
4. Emphasize the importance of God's love for all people by initiating opportunities to lead your co-workers in service or charity. For example, lead a canned food drive for a local food pantry or organize your company's annual blood drive. When appropriate, share in conversation how you are motivated to help others by God's character and his love.

Paul's Charge To Timothy 2 Tim. 4. 1-5




In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, 
Who will judge the living and the dead, 
And in view of his appearing and his kingdom, 

I give you this charge: 

Preach the word; 
Be prepared in season and out of season; 
Correct, 
Rebuke 
and 
Encourage
—with great patience and careful instruction. 

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. 
Instead, 
to suit their own desires, 
they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 
But you, 
Keep your head in all situations, 
Endure hardship, 
Do the work of an evangelist, 
Discharge all the duties of your ministry. 

CAUTIONARY WORDS FROM TOZER WITH REGARDS TO ASKING TO BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT


"Are you sure you want to be filled with a Spirit who,
Though He is like Jesus in His gentleness And love,
Will nevertheless demand to be Lord of your life?
Are you willing to let your personality be taken over by another,
even if that other by the Spirit of God Himself?
If the Spirit takes charge of your life
He will expect unquestioning obedience in everything.
He will not tolerate in you the self-sins Even though they are permitted
And excused by most Christians.
By the self-sins I mean
self-love,
self-pity,
self-seeking,
self-confidence,
self-righteousness,
self-aggrandizement,
self-defense.
You will find the spirit to be in sharp opposition to the easy ways of the world and of the mixed multitude within the precincts of religion.
He will be jealous over you for good.
He will not allow you to boast
Or swagger
Or show off.
He will take the direction of your life away from you.
He will reserve the right to test you,
To discipline you,
To chasten you for your soul's sake.
He may strip you of many of those borderline pleasures which other Christians enjoy
But which are to you a source of refined evil..."

Calvinism and Arminianism Compared by Roger E. Olson.



Below is a useful summary of the main differences between the two main schools of theology.

What is Calvinism? A) Belief that God foreordains and renders certain everything that happens without any exceptions; everything that happens in creation is designed, ordained and rendered certain by God; B) Belief that God alone decides, unconditionally, who will be saved, that Christ died only for them (“the elect”), and God saves them without any cooperation on their part (“irresistible grace”). “A” is called “meticulous providence,” “B” is called “double predestination.”

*There are some varieties of Calvinism that deviate slightly from above, but above is classical, historical, evangelical Calvinism as taught by Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, R. C. Sproul, John Piper and all other classical, historical, evangelical Calvinists.
What is Arminianism? A) Belief that God limits himself to give human beings free will to go against his perfect will so that God did not design or ordain sin and evil (or their consequences such as innocent suffering); B) Belief that, although sinners cannot achieve salvation on their own, without “prevenient grace” (enabling grace), God makes salvation possible for all through Jesus Christ and offers free salvation to all through the gospel. “A” is called “limited providence,” “B” is called “predestination by foreknowledge.”

*As with Calvinism there are varieties of Arminianism that deviate slightly from above, but above is classical, historical, evangelical Arminianism as taught by Arminius, John Wesley, Charles Finney, C. S. Lewis, and Dallas Willard and all other classical, historical, evangelical Arminians.
This debate (between Calvinists and Arminians) actually predates Calvin and Arminius by centuries. Early church father Augustine of Hippo was a Calvinist before Calvin, and the Eastern Church fathers were all Arminians before Arminius. (Although both Calvinism and Arminianism are Protestant and therefore emphasize salvation by grace alone through faith alone in a way that perhaps the ancient church fathers did not.)

This debate will never get finally settled before the eschaton (consummation of God’s plan at the end of history) because both find much support in Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience (the so-called “Wesleyan Quadrilateral).

The central biblical passage supporting Calvinism: Romans 9 (“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy….”) The central biblical passages supporting Arminianism: 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4 (God wants everyone to be saved).

If Scripture wears both aspects and neither “side” is doing violence to Scripture, how can a Christian decide which to embrace?

The underlying issues are not free will or predestination; both Calvinists and Arminians say they believe in both. (But they interpret them differently.) The underlying issue one has to consider is the character of God. The Arminian emphasizes God’s love; the Calvinist emphasizes God’s power.

According to Arminianism (as espoused and explained for example by John Wesley), double predestination and meticulous providence make God morally monstrous and not good in any meaningful sense of the word. Why?

According to Calvinism, salvation is completely produced by God from beginning to end with no free cooperation on the part of the sinner being saved. God decides to save some unconditionally and damn others when he could save them because grace is irresistible. Christ died only for the elect—those God decreed to save. Both the saved and the damned have no “say” in their eternal destiny (heaven or hell). Of course, they both feel as if they are making free decisions, but from God’s perspective everything, including sin, is part of God’s plan and purpose—including hell. Calvinist Theodore Beza (Calvin’s successor in Geneva): “Those who find themselves suffering in the flames of hell for eternity can at least take comfort in the fact that they are there for the greater glory of God.” Hell is necessary for God’s full self-glorification because God’s self-glorification (God’s purpose in creation) requires that all of his attributes be manifested. One of God’s attributes is justice and wrath, including hell, is necessary for the full manifestation of God’s justice. (Arminians argue that the cross on which Jesus died was a sufficient display of God’s justice and wrath.)

Arminians believe God genuinely wants all people to be saved and does everything possible to bring that about—without taking away free will. The gospel (the Holy Spirit through the gospel) frees the sinner’s will from bondage to sin and makes it possible for him or her to respond with repentance and faith.

Arminians make a distinction between two wills of God: “antecedent” and “consequent.” God’s antecedent will is what God wishes were the case; God’s consequent will is what God permits to be the case. Sin has no place in God’s antecedent will; neither does hell. These exist only because of human persons’ free (not foreordained) rebellion against God and refusal of God’s mercy.

According to Calvinism (as espoused and explained for example by Jonathan Edwards), the Arminian view of salvation makes the human person’s free decision to accept God’s grace by means of repentance and faith the decisive factor in his or her salvation and therefore makes salvation less than a free gift; it becomes partly a “work of man.” This contradicts (they argue) many passages of Scripture including, of course, Ephesians 2:8-9.

Calvinists believe God wishes it could be true that God saves everyone, but for his own good reasons knows it is not possible—if his main purpose in creation is to be fulfilled (viz., his own self-glorification by means of the manifestation of all his attributes including justice).

Calvinists make a distinction between two wills of God: “decretive” and “permissive.” (They also distinguish between God’s “decretive will” and God’s “prescriptive will,” but that is not directly pertinent here.) God’s decretive will is all-determining; it decides and then God renders certain all that happens without exception for his glory. However, God does not cause anyone to sin or do evil; God renders these certain. There are two or three different Calvinist explanations of how God renders sin and evil certain without being guilty of them.

Arminians argue that Calvinism, with its all-determining decretive will of God, cannot escape making God the author of sin and evil.

Calvinists argue that Arminianism, with its emphasis on the necessity of human free acceptance of God’s grace (free meaning able to do otherwise) makes salvation something other than a sheer gift and ultimately falls into works righteousness.

Arminians deny that (#16 above) and explain that only “prevenient grace” or “enabling grace”—a work of the Holy Spirit through the gospel message—gives sinners the freedom to repent and believe. Without prevenient grace no one would repent and trust in God alone.

The Calvinist view of salvation is called “monergism” which means “one energy” or “one activity” produces salvation—God’s irresistible grace. The Arminian view of salvation is called “synergism” which means “two energies” or “two activities” cooperating to produce an effect (salvation). However, Arminian synergism emphasizes that God’s grace is the effectual cause of salvation while the person’s faith is its instrumental cause.

According to Calvinism, evil, including sin, is efficaciously permitted by God (meaning his permission renders it certain) for a good purpose—his own glory in redeeming his elect people from sin and evil and his own glory in punishing the wicked (showing forth his justice and power).

According to Arminianism, evil, including sin, is non-efficaciously permitted by God (meaning his permission does not render it certain) for a good purpose—his desire to have a relationship with human beings created in his own image and likeness that is not coerced but is free. God grants (self-limitation) human beings the ability to resist his will. God is sovereign over his own sovereignty; he can remain sovereign and permit sin and evil which are not his antecedent will.

Calvinists respond that if God foreknew that some of his human creatures would reject and disobey him and created them anyway, he is just as responsible for their sin as if he foreordained it and rendered it certain. Arminians respond that God’s foreknowledge does not cause sin and evil but only “corresponds” with it. God foreknows because it will happen; his foreknowing does not render it certain.

This debate will almost certainly go on forever—until God settles it in heaven. Both sides can point to Scripture passages that seem to support what they believe. The debate has gone on since at least the writings of Augustine of Hippo in the early fifth century. Although Eastern Orthodox Christians have never really dealt with it (they believe in free will), the debate in various forms has happened repeatedly throughout Catholic and Protestant histories and theologies. The Catholic Church condemns double predestination. Protestants are deeply divided over it. From time to time Protestants have agreed to disagree and cooperating with each other in spite of their differing views of God’s sovereignty. At other times some Protestants have accused “the other side” (either Calvinism or Arminianism) of heresy and refused fellowship with them. For the most part, however, Calvinists and Arminians have developed their own denominations and churches while acknowledging the Christian status of the others. This is comparable, for example, to different Protestant practices and beliefs about baptism. Some Protestants practice infant baptism; others practice only baptism of believers (over a certain age or in a certain stage of development—old enough and mature enough to express faith in Christ). For the most part these practices and beliefs and about baptism do not co-exist in single denominations. (There are some exceptions where denominations allow parents to decide.) This generally does not stop them from cooperating and having Christian fellowship with each other across denominational lines. This has been the case with regard to Calvinism and Arminianism for the most part. However, occasionally an influential Protestant Christian minister, evangelist, writer, speaker, theologian, will declare “the other side” (viz., Calvinists or Arminians) “profoundly mistaken” if not heretical and break off Christian fellowship with them.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Richard Rolle : The Singing Mystic.

Excerpts from Richard Rolle, The Fire of Love
(Clifton Wolters trans. Penguin, 1972)
I cannot tell you how surprised I was the first time I felt my heart begin to warm. It was real warmth, too, not imaginary, and it felt as if it were actually on fire. I was astonished at the way the heat surged up, and how this new sensation brought great and unexpected comfort. I had to keep feeling my breast to make sure there was no physical reason for it! But once I realized that it came entirely from within... I was absolutely delighted, and wanted my love to be even greater. [prol.]
I offer... this book for the attention, not of the philosophers and sages of this world, not of great theologians bogged down in their interminable questionings, but of the simple and unlearned, who are seeking rather to love God than to amass knowledge. [prol.]
Men of action and rank, even if they are outstanding for their virtue or knowledge, should always put contemplatives before themselves, reckoning them to be their superiors before God, and admitting that they themselves are not capable of contemplation unless, maybe, God's grace should inspire them to it. [c.3]
Good Jesus, scourge me, wound me, slay me, burn me;
do with me here and now whatever in your goodness you decide;
that in the days to come I may know and feel
not evil but your love--and that, for ever!
To be despised, rejected, insulted by all,
for your sake, is sweeter to me
than to be called the brother of any earthly monarch,
honoured among men, and praised by all.... [c.9]
...in him who attains the heights of contemplation with joy and ardent love, the desires of the flesh now lie virtually dead.... Now it is no longer he who lives, but Christ who lives in him [Gal 2:20], and as a result he is overwhelmed by love and longing for him. He almost dies because it is so beautiful; he can hardly live because of such love His is the soul that says, "tell my Beloved I am pining for love [Cant 5:8]; I am wanting to die; I long to pass away; I am burning to pass over. See I am dying through love! Come down, Lord. Come, Beloved, and ease my longing. See how I love, I sing, I glow, I burn. Spare a thought for this poor wretch: order me to be brought before you." [c.11]
There have been people, and there probably still are, who have without hesitation put communal life above the solitary.... [T]hey do not approve of the solitary life because they know nothing about it.... I do not doubt that if they did in fact have some knowledge of the [solitary] life, it would be this life they would be praising rather than the other.... A man is alone indeed if God is not with him.... On the other hand he who for God's sake has chosen the solitary life, and lives it properly, knows not so much "woe" as "wonderful strength," and rejoices continually as he recalls the Name of Jesus. The less men fear to embrace for God a life that has no human comfort, the more will it be given them to glory in divine consolation. For they are the recipients of fre;quent spiritual visitations which certainly they would not know in community... There are those who have been divinely taught to seek solitude for Christ's sake, and to hold on to it tight.... Many of their number, although they live physically among people, are mentally remote from them; they never falter in their heavenly longing, because in spirit they are far removed from a sinful way of life. [c.13]
As far as my study of Scripture goes, I have found that to love Christ above all else will involve three things: warmth and song and sweetness. And these three, as I know from personal experience, cannot exist for long without there being great quiet.....
In these three things (which are the sign of love in its most perfect form) the utmost perfection of the Christian religion is undoubtedly found.....
I call it fervour when the mind is truly ablaze with eternal love, and the heart similarly feels itself burning with a love that is not imaginary but real. For a heart set on fire produces a feeling of fiery love.
I call it song when there is in the soul, overflowing and ardent, a sweet feeling of heavenly praise; when thought turns into song; when the mind is in thrall to sweetest harmony.
This twofold awareness is not achieved by doing nothing, but through the utmost devotion; and from these two there springs the third, for unspeakable sweetness is present too. Fervour and song bring marvellous delight to a soul, just as they themselves can be the product of very great sweetness.
...[T]he soul in whom are met these three things I have been speaking of remains completely impervious to the darts of the enemy; she continues to think all the time of her Beloved, rising ever higher, with her will unbroken, and her love stimulated. [c.14]
Death, why do you delay?... Yes, I burn, I pant for you. If you come I will be safe. Ravished though I be with love, yet I still cannot enjoy fully what I so desperately want; not until I taste that joy you are going to give me. For if I must, or rather because I must, like all my forbears, pass your gate, I beg you do not delay too long, do not be too far off. You can see how I am pining because of love, how I am longing to die, how I am aflame for you. Not, of course, for your sake, but for the Saviour's, my Jesus, on whom, once I have got what I want from you, I hope to gaze eternally. [c.16]
...I long for love, the fairest of flowers, and inwardly burn with fiery flame.... The heat is such that no one can imagine it unless he has experienced its comfort for himself. His heart is bursting with song, a captive in the care of charity. For of all the things I experience here, this is the most delightful: I nearly die while it builds up its fervent love [c.16]
It is the mental wound caused by the flame of divine love that is referred to in "I am wounded with love." Similarly when one pines for love, and is carried away by it, one can say, "I languish for love." For it is thus that a man regards his Beloved. He forgets himself and everything else for Christ's sake; and so he says, "Set me as a seal upon your heart" [Cant 8:6]. For what is love but the transforming of the desire into the loved thing itself? Or if you prefer, love is a great longing for what is beautiful, and good, and lovely, with its thought ever reaching out to the object of its love. And when he has got it a man rejoices, for joy is caused only by love. Every lover is assimilated to his beloved: love makes the loving one like what he loves...
It is the nature of love to melt the heart (as, for example, "My soul melted when my Beloved spoke" [Cant 5:6]). For sweet love and a devout heart so dissolve in the divine sweetness that the will of man is united with the will of God in a remarkable friendship. In this union there is poured into the loving soul such sweetness of warmth, delight, and song that he who experiences it is quite unable to describe it.
The nature of love is that it is diffusive, unifying, and transforming. It is diffusive when it flows out and sheds the rays of its goodness not merely on friends and neighbours, but on enemies and strangers as well. It unites because it makes lovers one in deed and will, and draws into one Christ and every holy soul. He who holds on to God is one in spirit with him, not by nature, but by grace and identity of will. Love has also the power of transforming, for it transforms the lover into his Beloved, and makes him dwell in him. Thus it happens that when the fire of the Holy Spirit really gets hold of the heart it sets it wholly on fire and, so to speak, turns it into flame, leading it into that state in which it is most like God.... [c.17]
...whether this state of [perfect] love once attained can ever be lost is not an improper question to ask. For all the while a man can sin, it is possible for him to lose charity. But to be unable to sin means that a man is not still on the way but has reached his fatherland. Therefore however perfect a man may be in this life he is still able to sin, and sin mortally.... Yet I think there is a degree of perfect love which once a man reaches he will never thereafter lose. It is one thing to be able to lose it; it is another always to hold on to it because one does not want to let it go, even if such were possible.... When a man is perfectly converted to Christ, he will hold in contempt all things that are transient, but keep a tight hold on his longing for his Maker--as far as is given to mortals, who have to allow for the corruption of the flesh. [c.19]
We ought always to be praying, or reading, or meditating, and doing other useful things, so that our enemy never finds us idle. [c.20]
Some people are doubtful as to which life is the more meritorious and excellent, the contemplative or the active. To many of them the active life seems more deserving because of the amount of good works and preaching it performs. But this is the mistake of ignorance, because they do not know what the contemplative life stands for. True, there are many actives who are better than some contemplatives. But the best contemplatives are superior to the best actives. So we say therefore that the contemplative life, taken in itself, is sweeter, nobler, worthier, and more meritorious in respect of its fundamental principle, which is delight in uncreated good; in other words it is because this is the life which loves God more ardently.... There is in the contemplative life the basic principle which calls for a more fervent love than the active life affords; and because contemplatives are quiet in mind and body, they can savour the sweetness of eternal love more than others do. Actives, to be sure, serve God with their toil and outward activity, but they spend little time in inner quiet. And the result is that they can only rarely and briefly know spiritual delight. On the other hand contemplatives are almost always enjoying the embrace of their Beloved....
If any man could achieve both lives at once, the contemplative and the active, and sustain and fulfil them, he would be great indeed. He would maintain a ministry with his body, and at the same time experience within himself the song of heaven, absorbed in melody and the joy of everlasting love. I do not know if anybody has ever done this: it seems to me impossible to do both at once. We must not reckon Christ in this respect as an ordinary man, nor his blessed Mother as an ordinary woman. For Christ did not have wandering thoughts, nor did he contemplate in the way that saints in this life commonly do. He did not need to work at it as we need, because from the moment of his conception he saw God.
....Let him who manages his active life well set about rising up to the contemplative. But let not him who has reached the supreme degree of contemplation in the manner we have described come down to the active unless perchance he is obliged to accept office in the Church, a thing which as far as I know has never, or scarcely ever, happened.... For lesser saints are sometimes better fitted for ecclesiastical office than are greater ones, because for the matters of everyday business those unable to persevere quietly in interior longing are more suited. [c.21]
...just as air is suffused by the sun's rays and becomes itself splendid with the splendour of its light, so the devout mind, inflamed by the fire of Christ's love and filled with desire for heavenly joys, seems to be all love. It is totally transformed into something different, indescribably delightful, though it retains its fundamental essence. For when the mind is kindled by the fire of the Holy Spirit, it is liberated from all idleness and uncleanness. It is made sweet in the torrent of God's love, for it is always looking at him, and not considering earthly things at all, until that day when it is glorified with the perfect vision of its Beloved. [c.28]
If anyone wants to honour a martyr's triumph worthily let him show his devotion to his virtue by his imitation of it; let him share the martyr's cause even if he does not have to submit to his pain; let him persist in patience, for in so doing he will have complete victory. [c.29]
The lover of the Godhead, whose whole being is shot through with love for the unseen Beauty, rejoices in the deep recesses of his soul; he is gladdened by that most delightful fire, for he has given himself to God with utter devotion. And so,... when Christ wills it, he will receive into his heart a sound sent from heaven; and then his meditation will be turned into melody, and his mind will dwell in marvellous harmony.... [H]is melody is similar to that of the angels, though again it is not as great or exact, for he is still hampered by corruptible flesh. He who has experienced this sweetness, has at the same time experienced the songs of angels, because they are both of one and the same kind: one here, the other in heaven. It is the tune that makes the song, not the words that are chanted. [c.32]
A man raised to holiness can know that he has the song of which I have been speaking in this way: he cannot abide the noise of psalmody unless his own inner song is mentally attuned to it; it is destroyed if he has to speak outwardly. Some indeed are distracted in their singing and psalmody, not because they are perfect, but because they are not yet settled in their own minds. [But] those who are well founded cannot be distracted from prayer or meditation by noise or tumult or anything else: it is only from song that such things pluck them. For that sweet, spiritual song is very special, and given only to the most special! It is not an affair of those outward cadences which are used in church and elsewhere; nor does it blend much with those audible sounds made by the human voice and heard by physical ears; but among angel melodies it has its own acceptable harmony, and those who have known it speak of it with wonder and approval. [c.33]
Once he has been purged of his obscenities and all those thoughts which are not directed to this one thing, the lover, ablaze through these same spiritual caresses, strains with all his might to gaze upon his Beloved. And his shout, excited and bursting out from the core of his longing love, goes up, of course, to his Maker, though to him it seems as if he were shouting from far off....
But here I have to "give up" because of my inherent stupidity and dullness; I have not the wit to describe this shout or its magnitude, or even the pleasure it gives just to think of it, or feel it, or experience it.... [A]ll I want to say is that the shout is the song....
...what would I give to find a man who was experienced in that melody?... He would reveal to me the song I long to understand, and he would make plain and clear my joyous shout. The more I understood, the fuller would be my exultation, and surely the more fruitful my emulation of him. The fire of love would be shown me, and my joy and song would shine out for all to see. My confused thoughts would then lack no one to put them into praise, nor would I toil to no purpose. [c.34]
It is clear that "enraptured" can be understood in two ways. One way is when a man is rapt out of all physical sensation, so that at the time of his rapture his body quite clearly feels nothing and does nothing. He is not dead, of course, but alive, because his soul is still vitalizing his body. Sometimes the saints and the elect have been enraptured in this fashion, for their own good, and for others' enlightenment. Thus Paul was rapt to the third heaven [II Cor 12:2]. Even sinners sometimes experience raptures of this sort in visions, and see the joy of the good, or the punishment of the wicked...
But "rapture" in the other sense comes through the lifting up of the mind to God in contemplation; all perfect lovers of God go this way--and only those who love God. It is as accurate to call this "rapture" as the other, because there is a definite seizure, a something outside nature.... This second way is most desirable and lovely. For Christ was always contemplating God, yet it never detracted from his self-possession.
So one way is to be rapt by love while retaining physical sensation, and the other is to be rapt out of the senses by some vision, terrifying or soothing. I think that the rapture of love is better, and more rewarding. For to have the privilege of seeing heavenly things is a matter of God's gift, not our merit. [c.37]
Sometimes indeed when she would sing she [the soul] is rapt with wonderful sweetness and fluency; yet when the warmth is felt to be less she will often fly off into song with the greatest pleasure, and, in ecstasy, she knows that the heat and sweetness are with her in truth. Yet there is never heat without delight, though sometimes it can be without song, for physical singing or noise can hinder it and drive it back into thought. [c.37]
...still I lack those things which show the Beloved to the one who longs for him. And this wounds me, and fills me with longing, but gives no ease at all; rather it increases it, because with my growing love my longing increases too.... Love it is that tortures me, love that delights me. It tortures, because what is loved so much is not immediately granted me; yet it delights, because it refreshes me with hope, and infuses indescribable comfort through its very heat.
For a mighty longing develops when there is in the soul through its joy and love the song of songs, and the fierce heat produces further sweet delight. For now one likes to think that death is life. For the flower that this thought nourishes can never die, but the splendour which all the while is growing in the lover, and which seems so wonderful, makes of death and music one thing....
But those who do feel in themselves that [Christ] is delightful here, undoubtedly will see him in all his attractiveness there. For what he is to us now, such he will appear to us then; to the lover, lovable and desirable; to the non-lover, hateful and cruel. And the difference will not be in him, but in us. He himself is unchangeably the same, but every creature will see him according to his deserts. [c.38]


A man not consumed with eternal love must needs be purged with tears; but for him who longs with the love of eternity, love is sufficient punishment. No wound is more serious--or more sweet--than that of love. [c.40]
When first I was converted, and became single-minded, I used to think I would be like the little bird which pines for love of its beloved, but which can rejoice in the midst of its longing when he, the loved one, comes. While it sings its joy, it is still yearning, though in sweetness and warmth. It is said that the nightingale will sing her melody all night long to please him to whom she is united. How much more ought I to sing, and as sweetly as I can, to my Jesus Christ, my soul's spouse, through the whole of this present life. [c.42]

Saturday, 8 September 2018

The Fall and Rise of Wang Ming Dao by Georgina Giles



The year was 1949 and the first unified central government for forty years was in power in China. Christian believers were fearful.
At the Peking (Beijing) Christian Tabernacle, the congregation prepared itself for Communist rule. Wang Ming Dao, the pastor, continued to hold tenaciously to Scripture. The Christian, he affirmed, should obey the authorities (Romans 13:1-7). But if ordered to go against God’s inspired Word, the Bible, then it was God’s Word that must be observed.
The ‘Three Self’ Movement
Wang Ming Dao knew the greatest threat that confronted the church would come from within. A man called Wu Yaozong, a little known YMCA secretary having strong sympathies with Communism, seized his opportunity.
Over the years many had recognised a prophetic ring in Wang Ming Dao’s words. ‘From a man with a selfish heart’, he had written, ‘any terrible act can emerge. Anyone looking for selfish gain can lie, cheat, practise evil and plot for his self interest. The majority of sins in this world issue from people who are out for selfish gain’.
Wu Yaozong approached Zhou Enlai, the Chinese premier. With his and Mao-Tse Tung’s full support, Wu drew up a ‘Christian Manifesto’. This called for the church to sever all ties with Western imperialism and purge itself of everything connected with it. The church must be self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating. Thus was born the government-sponsored Three Self Patriotic movement (‘TSPM’), and hundreds of thousands of Christians throughout China gave it their support. Wu Yaozong rose rapidly to power.
Adverse effects
Wang Ming Dao firmly believed in the separation of church and state. He recognised that the aim of the movement was to bring the church under state control.
Besides, the Christian Tabernacle had always been independent of Western aid or connection. There was no need for Wang to join. All his deepest convictions were in conflict with the beliefs propagated by Wu Yaozong and other leaders in the TSPM. Wu wrote in an article: ‘The incarnation, the virgin birth, resurrection, Trinity, last judgement, Second Coming etc., these are irrational and mysterious beliefs which cannot be understood or explained … no matter how hard I try, I cannot accept such beliefs’. Wang Ming Dao steadfastly refused to join the TSPM. He could act in no other way.
Meanwhile the churches that had joined the movement began to feel its adverse effects. The formidable ‘accusation meetings’, already a feature of the Communist secular world were introduced into the church. Pastors who had been linked with foreign missions were isolated, and their congregations encouraged to denounce them.
Another gospel
All over China, churches were torn apart. The Peking Christian Tabernacle was like an oasis in a spiritual desert, where pure biblical gospel preaching could still be heard.
Wang Ming Dao laboured night and day, setting up his own printing press to continue publication of the Spiritual Food Quarterly. His uncompromising stand on biblical truth strengthened Christians throughout the land.
Between 1951 and 1954, he published many books proclaiming the gospel and speaking out against the modernists. Those who preach the ‘social gospel’, he pointed out, ignore the essential atoning work of Christ for the individual’s eternal salvation and the purifying effect it has in this life. They seek to transform society and establish the ‘kingdom of heaven’ in this world.
But this, taught Wang, was ‘another gospel’ (Galatians 1:9). Such people have never put their own trust in Jesus. Men and women need to know the true gospel for their eternal safety and blessing.
Alarm bells
The TSPM ground its teeth. Its leaders deeply resented the man who was ‘an iron pillar against which the whole land could not prevail’. All they could do was to mount a personal attack on Wang.
In 1954 the TSPM ordered all churches in Beijing to send delegates to an ‘accusation meeting’ against Wang Ming Dao. Leslie Lyall (OMF) writes, ‘it would be difficult to find fault with him, for he practised what he preached: upright, disciplined living’.
Throughout the meeting, Wang did not speak a word. Imprisonment or the death sentence were called for. The congregation sat silent. Many wept. No penalty could be imposed.
So Ming Dao continued to preach. The crowds were larger than ever. The evangelistic meetings in January 1955, says Leslie Lyall, ‘were probably the most fruitful he had ever conducted’.
Then students, as students will, daringly started their ‘Oppose the persecution of Wang Ming Dao’ campaign. It received wide support all over China. Alarm bells began to ring in high places. Their plan to subjugate the church to Communist control was under threat.
Accusation meetings were arranged against Wang Ming Dao across the whole of China. Nevertheless, in two weeks of meetings in the Christian Tabernacle in July 1955, attendance broke all records. Wang’s important article, We, because of Faith, had been published. With powerful logic, he dealt with the arguments of the modernists. He explained how they overturned the Bible and the Christ of the Bible. Was he being uncharitable, he asked, if he called them ‘the party of unbelievers’?
Imprisoned
The Three-Self controlled magazine (the Tianfeng) branded Wang Ming Dao ‘a criminal of the Chinese people, a criminal in the church and a criminal in history’.
On 7 August 1955, Wang preached his last sermon in the church. For thirty years he had laboured tirelessly to show his country where her true hope lay, namely, in the atoning work of Christ and obedience to his Word. His final sermon showed that the TSPM church leaders had betrayed Christ in China.
At midnight the police arrived and Wang was thrown into prison without a conviction. He was parted from his wife and did not realise that she had been imprisoned too.
To the Communists, Wang Ming Dao’s refusal to join the TSPM was a counter-revolutionary act, the very worst of crimes. They could not, of course, understand that he was called by God to summon the church to chastity to Christ.
Wang shared a filthy cell with two other prisoners. From his daily interrogations, Wang was returned to his cell to be taunted with descriptions of torture reserved for preachers, and to be beaten and pressurised by his fellow prisoners to confess his ‘crimes’.
Freedom and rearrest
The authorities used every device to break down the resistance of this powerful opponent to their scheme. After a year of tremendous pressure, Wang was informed of a wave of arrests of Bible-believing Christians sympathetic to him. Then news came of Jing Wun’s plight. She, too, was in detention, unable to eat the coarse prison food because of her poor health. China’s ‘iron man’ began to weaken. He ‘confessed’ to crimes he had not committed, and agreed to join the TSPM and preach for them. He signed a document stating he was a counter-revolutionary, and he and Jing Wun were freed.
Then began the darkest six months in Wang Ming Dao’s life. The TSPM leaders were elated. They waited eagerly to claim the lifeless jewel that would crown their movement. But with a mind deranged with guilt and sorrow for the denial of his Lord, Wang never did join or preach for the TSPM. With the same tender love the Lord had shown to Peter, Wang was granted time to regain normality by a period of illness.
He informed the government he could not join, Jing Wun affording outstanding support to her husband. Exactly seven months after their release, Wang Ming Dao and Jing Wun were re-arrested.
Restored in spirit
By the 1960s, Mao Tse Tung’s disastrous policies, along with natural calamities, left millions starving in a terrible famine. All, except high government officers, were affected. Officials at the bottom level were blamed for Mao’s mistakes.
While some ‘counter-revolutionaries’ were released at this time, Wang Ming Dao received the sentence he most dreaded — life imprisonment. Earlier, the Beijing People’s Court had drawn up charges against him. The recorded evidence stated that Wang Ming Dao and his wife had undermined the TSPM set up by Chinese Christians, and had accused the TSPM of committing adultery with the world.
It was now that God met with Wang Ming Dao and restored him to his brightest hour. A scripture he had learned many years before was brought by the Holy Spirit to his remembrance: ‘When I fall I shall arise, when I sit in darkness the Lord will be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him until he pleads my cause and executes judgement for me’ (Micah 7:7).
One great prison
Through the next sixteen and a half years Ming Dao was to suffer solitary confinement, torture, and the horror of five months of daily meetings attempting to force confessions from him.
But the Lord stood by him and gave him the victory through his Word. Never again was he to fall. Though Wang Dao’s voice was silenced, his life still spoke throughout the land.
During this time all China had become one great prison from which there was no escape. The ‘little red book’ of Mao’s teachings was in everyone’s hands. As the Cultural Revolution flourished, everyone spied on his neighbour and almost every family suffered at least one death.
Preaching again
In Beijing, more than anywhere else, the youthful Red Guards were authorised to terrorise intellectuals. Had Wang Ming Dao still been there, he would have been targeted for death. The ancient city walls were demolished, as things old and beautiful were destroyed to make way for Mao’s new China. Even the TSPM ceased to function.
Gradually it became clear that Mao had failed the nation. His ‘little red book’ was laid aside. God had destroyed the wisdom of the wise (1 Corinthians 1:19). In 1976 Mao Tse Tung died, and his revolution died with him.
Prison doors opened, and seventy-nine-year-old Wang Ming Dao, now nearly blind and very deaf, was free again. In his little home in Shanghai, and always mindful of his fall, he began again to preach the Holy Scriptures which are able to make one ‘wise unto salvation’ (2 Timothy 3:15). He died in 1991, a radiant witness to his Saviour.
The healthy state of the vast house-church movement in China today, and the breathtaking increase of true Bible-believing Christians there, are not unrelated to the life and work of Wang Ming Dao. He has emerged as the greatest Chinese Christian leader of the twentieth century.