By Li Zhi
The night was quiet, and Li Gang was lying awake tossing and turning. Several years before, he and many other brothers and sisters left the houseand joined the Three-Self Church because of the CCP government’s persecution to the Christian house churches. For these years, he had always thought that no matter where they practiced their faith, they would still be taken into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returned as long as they kept the Lord’s name, prayed, read the , and insisted on attending gatherings. However, Brother Wang’s remarks today made him feel hard to calm down. Brother Wang said in the daytime, “In my opinion, we, who fear to suffer the persecution of the CCP government and choose to believe in the Lord in the Three-Self Church are all the fearful. I’m afraid we won’t be qualified to be raptured to the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns.” While remembering this, Li Gang even more had no thoughts of sleep and asked himself constantly: “Are we who believe in the Lord in the Three-Self Church really condemned to be the fearful by the Lord? Will the Lord really not take us into the kingdom of heaven?” The scene of today’s meeting appeared in his mind.
The church turned into a chaotic scene this morning. Brothers and sisters were talking about the thing happening last night. Jia Yi said in fear, “I saw the armed police burst in with their guns and arrest several people who believe in Almighty God. They searched the house like bandits coming into the village. My heavens, it looked like they were arresting a most-wanted criminal.”
Xu Hong who was timid said quickly, “Now, the CCP is cracking down on religious belief more fiercely than ever and has ramped up the attacks on house churches. As I see it, it’s safest to believe in the Lord in the Three-Self Church! We can’t believe in the Lord in the house church, especially in. That’s too dangerous.”
“It certainly is,” agreed Jia Yi. “Since we all believe in the Lord, why are those who believe in Eastern Lightning arrested and put in jail? It is so great that we believe in the Lord in the Three-Self Church and can have meetings openly.”
Brother Wang took the thread of the conversion and said, “Hey, don’t you know that? The CCP is an atheist political party. It fears most that the common people. During these past few years, people of Eastern Lightning have been spreading the , and they bear witness that the has returned as none other than Almighty God, expressing the truth and doing the work of judgment of the last days. Many believers who thirst for God’s appearance in various sects and denominations have heard the words expressed by Almighty God, and firmly believe that it truly is the voice of God, and have returned before Almighty God. Haven’t you seen that more and more people these days are accepting Eastern Lightning? Eastern Lighting has developed so quickly. So, can you say that the Chinese Communist government wouldn’t panic? If Eastern Lightning goes on spreading like this, and goes on bearing witness, then a lot of people will believe in Almighty God, and maybe most people of various denominations and sects will accept Almighty God, and many non-believers will accept Almighty God as well. Can you say that the Chinese Communist government would not be afraid? Could they not take Eastern Lightning as the key target for their crackdown?”
Sister Fu nodded and said with emotion, “To tell the truth, I really admire those people who believe in Eastern Lightning. They are able to spread the gospel and bear witness for God under all circumstances. No matter how many have been arrested and put in jail, they go on spreading the gospel as always. On this point, we have no way to compare with them!”
Jia Yi said disapprovingly, “What is there to admire? As I see it, these Eastern Lightning people are fools. Isn’t it just fine to earnestly practice their faith in secret in their homes? They are always out spreading the gospel and bearing witness. Can the CCP not arrest them? It won’t be too late if they just wait until the Communist Party falls from power, and then spread the gospel and bear witness for God. As of now, the witnessing from Eastern Lightning has shaken all of mainland China, and they met with frenzied arrests and persecution by the CCP government, implicating all of the house churches. Even Three-Self churches are in trouble, and some churches have already been sealed up or demolished by the CCP. In my opinion, our Three-Self churches will not have a peaceful time of it, all due to the trouble stirred up by Eastern Lightning.”
Xu Hong frowned and said, “That’s right. All we are doing in believing in the Lord is trying to get some peace and safety. With the CCP suppressing and arresting Christians so frantically, yet the people of Eastern Lightning spread the gospel and bear witness for God as always. Wouldn’t you say that they are running right into the muzzle of a gun?”
Brother Bai spoke meaningfully, “Brothers and sisters, we can’t speak this way. Back then, to bear witness for Him, the followers of the Lord Jesus met with wild arrests and persecution at the hands of the Roman government and the Pharisees. Many people sacrificed their lives for the Lord. That was suffering for righteousness, which is good deeds. Now, those Eastern Lightning people, despite the widespread arrests and persecution by the CCP, dare to openly spread the gospel and bear witness that the Lord has returned. This is confidence as well as courage and insight!”
Sister Fu said, “That’s right! Though they are arrested, they are suffering for righteousness, and will surely receive God’s blessings; while we left the house church and joined the Three-Self Church for fear of the persecution of the CCP government.”
Brother Wang thought for a while and said, “I feel that what Brother Bai says is right. The Lord Jesus said, ‘whoever … forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple’ (Luke 14:33). Though we all believe in God, those Eastern Lightning people can abandon everything, put the cross on their backs, and follow God. They are living out the words of the Lord Jesus, and give no thought to their own lives to follow the Lamb. But us? None of us has done that!”
Jia Yi said with disdain, “I don’t like what you are saying. With the CCP government persecuting religious belief so ruthlessly, how many will dare to risk their lives to follow the Lord? Not only have we not done it, even the pastors and elders have not done it!”
Brother Wang took the thread of the conversion and said, “Yet those Eastern Lightning people have done it. Wave upon wave of them move courageously forward in teaching about the Lord and bearing His witness. They have spread the kingdom gospel of Almighty God all over China proper. They are the ones who earn God’s approval!”
Sister Fu said with a sigh, “It sets me to thinking, we have chosen to practice our faith in the Three-Self because we fear persecution by the CCP government. Wouldn’t you say that this is dragging out a shameful existence and trying to get off easy?” She thought for a while and continued to say, “If this is how it truly is, can we go on thinking that the Lord will come and take us into the kingdom of heaven? I feel that our belief in the Lord within the Three-Self is bringing shame to Him!”
“Shaming the Lord? How can you say this?” said Xu Hong in puzzlement.
Sister Fu said, “Think about it. We all believe in God. How is it that those Eastern Lightning people are so confident, and we have no confidence? Why do they dare to bear witness for God, and we do not? Those people dare to accept Eastern Lightning, why, then, do none of us have courage and confidence? In my opinion, it’s not as simple as it seems!”
Xu Hong said disapprovingly, “We don’t have the confidence or bear witness like they do in Eastern Lightning, but in our faith we must bring glory to the Lord in all that we do! If we are arrested and thrown in jail, our families broken and dispersed, is that still a family? Then unbelievers would laugh at us! This would not bring glory to the Lord! If you ask me, we ought to practice our faith in the Three-Self Church. At least we won’t be arrested and put in prison. Shouldn’t we seek peace and safety in our faith in the Lord?”
Brother Wang refuted, “Glorify the Lord? What does it mean to glorify the Lord? We fear to be arrested and put into jail and be laughed at by the unbelievers, and cannot suffer persecution for righteousness. Can this glorify the Lord? This is clearly not after the Lord’s teachings. The Lord said, ‘Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:10). Only those who keep the true way for righteousness, and do not complain against God or betray God despite being persecuted or even being arrested, can truly glorify the Lord.”
Jia Yi said, “The Lord Jesus is loving and merciful. He knows that we are of small stature, and forgives our weakness. When the Lord comes, He certainly will receive us into the kingdom of heaven. We should believe the Lord’s promise!”
Brother Wang sighed and said, “By what you are saying, it appears there are some things you haven’t understood clearly. Would you say that the Three-Self Church is a church at all?”
Jia Yi said, “Do you even have to ask this? If it is not a church, what else could it be?”
Brother Wang said, “Do you know why the CCP government does not persecute people in the Three-Self churches?”
“Why?” Xu Hong asked curiously.
Brother Wang glanced at the window and spoke in a low voice, “The Three-Self Church is a church that is controlled by the CCP satanic regime. Even the gatherings and sermons are supervised under the United Front Work Department. It is hard to say whether the Lord would really recognize the Three-Self Church as a church at all.”
“How could He not?” Xu Hong hurriedly said, “Aren’t all who call on the Lord’s name recognized?”
Brother Wang said seriously, “Was the Three-Self Church set up by disciples dispatched by the Lord? Not in the least! The Three-Self Church was set up by the CCP United Front Work Department. How could the Lord recognize a church that was set up by Satan?”
Li Gang asked in surprise, “The Three-Self Church was established by Satan?!”
Brother Wang went on saying, “People like us who surrender to Satan and join the Three-Self don’t truly believe in God. The CCP is basically not watching us at all. The ones who the CCP most admires are the people of Eastern Lightning, because the CCP government most fears a church in which the Holy Spirit is at work, a church that has truth and bears God’s witness. We in the Three-Self Church are not persecuted, yet the Three-Self Church is full of secularism, following world trends, without the work of the Holy Spirit. Can we who believe in the Lord here get into the heavenly kingdom?”
Li Gang thought for a while and said, “Right, speaking pure truth and talking of Revelation is not allowed in the Three-Self Church. How is it possible to attain truth and life in this way?”
Xu Hong said word by word, “In the Three-Self, we believe in the Lord, not in the Communist Party. As long as we hold onto the name of the Lord, and endure to the end, the Lord won’t abandon us, will He?”
Brother Wang said, “Sister, I used to think the way you do. Later I read what the Lord Jesus said in the Bible: ‘Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 7:21). I began to ponder, getting into the kingdom of heaven is conditional. More is required to get into the kingdom of heaven than holding onto the Lord’s name and having places to gather. We hide in the Three-Self Church and believe in the Lord, not daring to spread the gospel and bear witness for the Lord. And we don’t even dare to investigate whether Eastern Lightning is the return of the Lord. Would you say that this is doing on? Would we be qualified to be taken into the heavenly kingdom when the Lord comes?”
As his mind wandered back to reality, Li Gang turned on the light and got up to pour a glass of water. He then took out the Bible, opened Revelation, and read, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
He stood up and walked to the window, looking at the moon, and muttered, “God said clearly that the fearful cannot enter into the heavenly kingdom. Then are we who believe in the Lord in the Three-Self Church all the fearful? Are we really not able to enter into the kingdom of heaven? If this is how it truly is, then don’t we believe in vain?”
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