The Lord"s Followers Must Truly Deny Themselves
Let me testify to brothers and sisters. During the several decades in China we noticed what type of people shone for the Lord in the trials. We know that the Bible uses "fire" as an analogy for "trials." Fire can light up; it can also burn and purify. It can show us what we do not usually see, revealing those remnants and impurities in us which are not from Christ; it will then burn and purify them. During the fiery trials, those Christians who shone forth were not the ones who were intellectual, knowledgeable, famous or capable but, rather, the humble ones who loved the Lord pure-heartedly and who abided in Christ. They were genuine and practiced a life of dying to the world and to self. They did not depend on their own capabilities, wealth or intelligence. Rather, they learned to solely depend on the Lord and to follow Him humbly, and were willing to bear the cross, to experience affliction and to suffer loss.
In times of peace and freedom with the absence of trials, we, as well as others, may think quite well of ourselves even when we are not daily following the Lord. However, as soon as trials come, we immediately fall. In the gospel of Luke, Chapter 12, there was a multitude of thousands who followed the Lord - "even stepping on each other". I think that the number of people mentioned in Chapter 14 was no smaller. The Lord was not like certain preachers nowadays who became proud as their church congregation grew in size to hundreds and thousands. What was Jesus like? He turned his head around and told all the people following Him that only those who loved God more than their wives, their children and themselves could be His true followers - in other words, only those who were willing to take up the cross daily, to deny themselves and to sacrifice their all could be His true followers. He mentioned three "not's".
What we experienced in China for several decades has proven how true the Lord"s words are! Thus, we need to look up to the Lord for mercy and to love Him not only in words as said in the Bible: "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, and in vain they worship Me" (Mark 7:6,7). We need to ask the Lord for mercy that we may truly love Him and be willing to sacrifice our all, even our lives, to follow Him. Otherwise, not only will we not be able to withstand the fire at the Judgment Seat, we will not be able to go through the fire of trials in our earthly days.
I was deeply touched by the testimonies of a few brothers and sisters during the trials in China, some of which I am going to share in this book.
There was a sister, named Pearl Dong, whose testimony is very precious and inspiring (see Part II Chapter 3). Were it not for this instrument of the Lord, I would have died long ago and not be here today. How I thank and praise the Lord for His mercy towards me through this sister! She was neither well-educated nor doctrinally sound. Let me tell you the following regrettable incident. When she was in Shanghai, she asked to join in the communion of the assembly that I attended. Two elders in the Shanghai Christian Assembly opposed as they considered that she did not clearly present her born-again experience. Only one elder said that she had the life of a born-again Christian and should therefore be allowed to join in the communion. It was this ordinary-looking and unimpressive sister, who was considered unqualified even for joining the communion, that the Lord had used to save me. As to how many more people she had saved, I never heard her mention. From her, we can grasp an idea of what is meant by bearing the cross and denying oneself. It is easy for us to sing hymns and to pray; yet what will we be like when it comes to offering ourselves truly to the Lord??