In closing, let me add a few points:
The Bible tells us that the glorious and almighty God “works all things after the counsel of His own will;” “and He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand, or say to Him, What have You done?” “the Most High ruled in the kingdom of men, and that He appoints over it whomsoever He will” (Eph. 1:11; Dan. 4:35, 5:21). We also firmly believe that God’s “word is settled in heaven” and that “His kingdom rules over all” (Psa. 119:89; 103:19). His promises never fail, and His will shall ultimately be done. He promised Abraham, “…in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). He also commanded the disciples, “Go therefore and teach all nations…” (Matt. 28:19). For thousands of years, the development of human history has continuously fulfilled God’s will and promises. Universally and over the past and present times, countless Christians of all nations have been blessed to become The Lord’s disciples.
China ’s trial of over 40 years was an extremely crucial event of the 20 th Century. It took place in a vast continent occupied by no less than one-forth of the world population. Here, Satan, the ruler of the world, blatantly persecuted God’s children and tried to destroy the testimonies of our Lord Jesus Christ. He further destroyed this world as he did in Noah’s time (Matt. 24:37; Gen. 6:5).
Generally speaking, the fiery trial has revealed four types of people:
Firstly, God revealed the ones in His Church who were mature and magnified Christ in their bodies, whether by life or by death (Phil. 1:20). Some of them have died as martyrs and have set good examples for us. They provide us with a configuration of works of gold, silver and precious stone. We see their shining example of following the Lamb wherever He went.
Secondly, through afflictions, discipline and chastening, God has accelerated the maturity of a group of witnesses who spread the gospel to the end of the earth and prepare for the rapture and the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:40-44; Luke 17:34, 35).
Thirdly, with regard to the iniquities, corruptions and backslidingwithin the Church, God carried out judgment, rescue and restoration.
Fourthly, through afflictions, the Holy Spirit prepared and guided those whom God had predestined before the creation of the world to be saved by the only God.
“For You, oh God, have proved us; You have tried us, as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction upon our loins. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out into a wealthy place” (Psa. 66:10-12). Through the long period of agonizing trials, God has opened our eyes to the path of life, bringing many brothers and sisters to maturity and to be His useful instruments. This accounted for the explosion of gospel work in China over the past couple of decades. For over 100 years prior to this (from the start of evangelical pioneering in 1865 to the year 1949), the number of Christians resulting from the preaching of God’s servants in China (including God’s greatly used servant Hudson Taylor who established China Inland Mission), amounted to 700,000. (In 1950, more than 300,000 registered to join the “Three-Self” Church.) Within merely 10 years or so since China opened to the outside world in 1978, the number of Christians increased to 60-70 million (estimated figure, not proven exact), which is almost 100 times of that a century ago1. This is a clear indication that the kingdom of God is expanding in accordance with His will and promise at a speed faster than ever before. That one prayer of the Church throughout the ages – “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9,10) – is becoming a reality at an accelerated speed.
The Tiananmen Square Incident of June 4 th, 1989 in China shocked the whole world. It has also awakened many Chinese intellectuals as well as cadres of all ranks, who sought refuge in the name of Jesus Christ. The name of God was highly exalted and His glory manifested. The bitterness of winter only helped the killing of more pests, deepening the tree’s roots and adding more and denser annual-rings to its trunk in preparation for more fruits in the spring. Satan may be fierce, but God is forever victorious. God says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). Let us worship Him in spirit and in truth.
The world history is developing at a faster pace. In the past we used to say, “The wheel of history is rolling forward”; now at these end-times, we say, “History is like a soaring eagle with wings spread!” It was God’s ruling hand that used Gorbachev2 to strikingly shatter the Soviet Union, the over 70-year-old massive figure that had killed and exiled countless Christians. God, too, was behind the Berlin Wall3 that collapsed in just an instant. After the removal of barriers and iron-gates that prevented the spread of gospel, gospel workers rapidly swarmed in. Like the downpour of rain after a long drought, the radio network covered the whole world; and churches sprang up with rapid increase of believers, like bamboo shoots after the spring rain. Meanwhile, happenings such as famines in Africa, the outbreaks of wars, conflicts, riots and terrorism in various parts of the world, together with moral and economic decline in the United States and other affluent countries, are all “for to do whatsoever Your hand and Your counsel determined before to be done (Acts 4:28).”. Concealed in the world trends of history is always an aspect pertaining to the kingdom of God - though most people fail to apprehend the spiritual world. Actually, “The Lord sat enthroned at the flood, and the Lord sits as King forever” (Psa. 29:10). Hallelujah!
Brothers and sisters, when will the number of people to be saved be fulfilled (Rom 11:26)? Are you and I prepared? As prophesized, “prepare to meet your God!” (Amos 4:12). How can we neglect or ignore the amazing and awesome works of God in China as well as the very costly testimonies of those godly Chinese brothers and sisters! Now that the hour of the glorious rapture is imminent, let us together turn to and look up to the God of grace and mercy. May He alert and draw each of us to Him, so that we shall be like Paul, seizing every moment and opportunity to “follow after …toward the goal, forgetting these things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal” (Phil. 3:12,13,14). Let us prepare daily for the rapture and the return of the Lord (Matt. 24:32-44).
Brother Lawrence said it well, “If I do not love the Lord today, then I have lost this day forever.”
Let Us Pray:
Our Heavenly Father, the great and awesome true God:
We lay all these words under the precious blood of Your Son Jesus Christ - may you cleanse them with the blood. Lord, if You will, please bless these words, that each of us brothers and sisters may truly know how to follow You, knowing that one day we shall all stand before You. May the way we live and serve today be able to withstand the fire on that day. May You be able to say to us, “You, my good and faithful servant, you may enter and feast with Me as the five wise virgins do.”
Oh Lord! We pray that you deliver us from all vanities and all sins. Deliver us also from the love of the world and of ourselves. May we truly be blessed with Your grace so that in these end-times – the most trying time – we may have a heart that loves you. May we wholly love You, serve You and follow You; and may Your name be glorified.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!
1. From the time this book was first published in 1997 up to 2005, the estimated figure has risen to around 100 million.
2. Gorbachev, Mikhail S. – leader of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) from 1985 to 1991. He was the key figure in the liberalization and subsequent disintegration of Soviet and Eastern European Communism.
3. Built in 1961, the Berlin Wall was a fortified wall surrounding West Berlin. It was maintained by the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), commonly known as East Germany. It was torn down in 1980 when East Germany reunited with West Germany as one nation.