Oneness in Christ
I admit that our church was very proud, probably the proudest among all churches in China. This was because we had a very intelligent and brilliant leading brother who knew the Bible by heart, had studied many spiritual works, and was a very knowledgeable and eloquent preacher. In the church history of China, he was perhaps the first to introduce the recovery of the basic Truth for the global Church since Martin Luther"s time. He had a remarkably rich knowledge of the Bible and could be called a true professor of theology. Regrettably, the members" acts and love in Christ did not measure up, for "knowledge puffs up, but love edifies" (I Cor. 8:1).
There is an old Chinese saying: "An overturned cart in front is a warning for those following behind." It is true that the knowledge of biblical truth is very important ("add tovirtue" knowledge- II Pet. 1:5"; and "my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge �C Hos. 4:6"). However, with only biblical knowledge in the brain but no love, one becomes puffed up with conceit. There should be a combination of both, as said in the Bible, "...that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment; ...that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ" (Phil. 1:9-10; I Cor.8:1).
It was due to our pride and exaltation of men instead of Christ that we, with the exception of a few, failed tragically. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).
We praise the Lord, though, for teaching us many valuable lessons during the trials. One of these was: all those whom the Lord Jesus has redeemed with His precious blood are all our brothers and sisters, and they are all precious. The day will come when "it was fitting for Him, for whom areall things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory" (Heb. 2:10). Therefore, ever since leaving the Labor Camp after many years of Reform, we dare not divide or strive, or despise among ourselves (I Cor. 3:1; Titus 3:10; Eph. 4:3). All being children of God, we should serve the Lord in one accord.
After I came to the United States, there were brothers and sisters concerned for the churches in China who sometimes entrusted me with money (I never asked for donations), with the request that I arrange to pass it on to trustworthy leaders of House-Churches for the Lord's work and for distribution to needy ministers imprisoned or sent to Labor Camps, as well as needy ministers preaching in remote villages and mountain regions. I then arranged to pass the money to the faithful and mature saints in China for distribution to all who were faithfully preaching in accordance with the biblical truth, irrespective of their denominational background. It is very important that we do not have prejudice (I Tim. 5:21).
In the past, we claimed that ours was the church of Philadelphia (Gr. brotherly love) and that other churches were Sardis, Thyatira, or Laodicea. We condemned denominationalism, not knowing that our own concept of denomination was actually deeper and our line of denomination sharper. Yet, when trials hit, we were no stronger than others, and there was no testimony characteristic of the church of Philadelphia. Of those brothers and sisters who shone amid the trials, a great percentage did not have our church background. Sister Dong was a more typical one who, despite our refusal to let her join in the communion, was forgiving and generous enough to reach out her loving hand to save our lives at her own risk. The Bible says, "If one loves God, he is known by God" (I Cor. 8:3). In the book of Revelations, there were calls to conquerors in each of the seven churches in Asia, and there were conquerors in each of them.
Here, I am reminded of my encounter with a very respectable, elderly sister after I left the Labor Camp in 1979. Sister Grace Zheng had a different denominational background from mine, but her testimony1 of following the Lord with courage, dedication and high cost is most impressive. She told me that one day when she was critically ill in the Labor Camp, a sister in the team passed an offering packet to her. It contained the amount of 10 yuan, which at that time was a considerable sum as the average monthly allowance per person was about 2 or 3 yuan. Sister Zheng asked the sister, "I know that the offering is actually for the Lord and that the Bible teaches "do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing." But today I'm moved by the Spirit to ask where this money came from?" The sister replied that it was from a Catholic priest. Oh, dear brothers and sisters, do you see? During trials and suffering, the concept of denominations weakens and vanishes; and there will be no place for it in the future Heavenly Kingdom. Regrettably, once all was calm, the flesh became active again and division and strife recurred (I Cor. 3:1-3).
1. Autobiography of Sister Grace (Huiduan) Zheng: A Masterpiece of God's Amazing Grace, published by Chinese Christian Testimony Ministry.