πας ο μισων τον αδελφον αυτου ανθρωποκτονος εστιν και οιδατε οτι πας ανθρωποκτονος ουκ εχει ζωην αιωνιον εν εαυτω μενουσαν εν – τουτω εγνωκαμεν την αγαπην οτι εκεινος υπερ υμων την ψυχην αυτου εθηκεν και ημεις οφειλομεν υπερ των αδελφων τας ψυχας θειναι 1 John 3:15-16

The Cost of Obedience

The reason why I have included the below video is that it has to do with the Church in China, and in particular, in some detail, with Watchman Nee. To quote from the book in the video, “In very different ways, Lin Pu-chi and Watchman Nee built a religious foundation that would prove to be sturdy enough to support the religious revival in China today. “Lin, Jennifer. Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Christian Family (p. 273). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.

It is this statement by Jennifer Lin that I wish to speak about when I talk about the cost of laying hold of the foundation of Christ Jesus. Perhaps unexpectedly I am also mindful of Lin Pu-chi as well, because although he represents, in his day, the Anglican Church, his sincere faith reveals the mercy of God. In revival, God will speak to His whole house. He will use those men who are steadfast. And despite their own failings, he will speak to all of his children. Lin Pu-chi to the Formal House, and Watchman Nee to the Informal House. This is a picture, and it is a reality of the present day, in China.  If we are faithful,  then it will be a testimony in our own nation also.  

When we speak of the cost of laying hold of the foundation of Christ Jesus, it may not be apparent what that really means. Perhaps we would be inclined to think of the cost associated with being a Christian in a society that is becoming increasingly hostile to biblical truth. On the other hand, we may think about ourselves, and how we have been treated by other Christians. The first cost here is not apparent to many believers, especially in a western world where well-being tends to be associated with the property of personal possessions, and therefore where possessions give us a misguided sense of self-worth. Yet for all that, we may sense the difficulty that lies ahead if the direction of society continues as it is. The second cost is easier to understand if we ourselves have experienced wrongdoing through the Church, and where that wrongdoing has damaged our faith. Even in this regard, however, it may not be as clear to us as we think.

Another reality can be how life itself has treated us. This may include many experiences in our childhood, which whilst they are common in others experience, nevertheless in our own lives, weigh us down. Usually, this childhood experience falls into the realm of its psychological meaning, even when we learn later on that what we experienced as children may have had a spiritual implication of harm. The significant problem we have today, is not a lack of empathy with our childhood experiences, especially when they took the form of sexual abuse, physical and even mental abuse. It is merely that society does not have a spiritual remedy for these things and so promotes a psychological cure instead. What we can easily miss is that God does not give psychological solutions to our lives, He gives us a spiritual remedy. 

Of Visions  & Hope      

The fact of the ministry and work of Christ, through the Cross, and the shedding of His own blood for sin, is the separating effect, from sin, and from the body of sin. We all too quickly see the blood, and that we are redeemed by it, but we miss the cross and its other meaning. It is not simply the blood of Christ shed for sin, which speaks of a propitiation, it is also death, which speaks of an end to real sin. You cannot take a dead man to the public-house for a drink – even when he was given over to its effect in his life. Dead men cannot drink.

Before we are destroyed by the sins into which we so easily fall when we are injured in life, and before we condemn others who stumble, we need to see that Romans chapter six, seven and eight lay down the fuller reality of our necessary walk if we are to be found faithful when we meet the Lord. The only remedy that God has given for physical sin in our lives is the cross. We also need to comprehend that in His mercy, God has also given us men and women, who though they also stumble, and through their stumbling, they cause others to stumble in season; nevertheless, they are given as examples and ministers through whom we can grow. 

The foundation that is laid is Christ, and the House that is being built is by the apostles and prophets, wherein Christ is the chief cornerstone. In Lewis and in Wales, in revival, there is no escaping that once Duncan Campbell and Evan Roberts were finished, very soon the church was brought back into imprisonment by others, and society was eventually brought back into darkness. When the hand of God passed by, then the effect of God is managed by the church. It is all the church. And we must see that whilst Duncan Campbell and Evan Roberts were not themselves guilty of any great sin, in China, Watchman Nee was dragged into prison and accused of every sin possible. He bore with that reproach and regardless of any sin that was to his account, his work and his books, as well the personal witness of those who knew him intimately, has given us a confident example of how God produces revival and continues in it through those men and women. As we seek God to address our own time, and the churches in our own dominion we must learn from those whom God has given us. 

It is a testimony to the goodness and mercy of God that He has also given us men and women today who by this same means serve to bear witness of that goodness and mercy of God. We must not despise that gift of men and women, neither must we fall into an accusatory spirit, as some have done. If we do, then like Judas, whom Christ said was a devil, which in Greek means an accuser, we too will accuse others, and the mercy and goodness of God will pass us by in a day wherein we have no more time to prevaricate. It is always the church that harms the church. Persecution does not harm the church.