By Pastor Wang Yi of Early-Rain Covenant Church, Chengdu, China
I respect the rulers of China in obedience to the teaching of Scriptures and the mission of the Gospel as all governments are set up by God. He alone rules in the kingdoms of the world, setting up kings and removing them also. Therefore, I submit to the rule of God in His arrangement of the governments and systems in China.
As a pastor of the church of Christ, my views concerning the society, politics, and laws, and what is a righteous and good rule of a society are based on the Bible. I despise and hate the evils that is being brought upon churches, stripping man’s freedom of faith and conscience. However, it is not my personal calling to transform society and governmental policies, neither it is the purpose of God’s people when they received Gospel.
Therefore, all of the ugliness of the society and unrighteousness in the politics and laws, are only serving to reveal the only, absolute need for all Chinese people, which is the Cross of Jesus Christ. Our hope of a perfect society on earth will not be fulfilled by the transformation of political systems or cultures, but only in the forgiveness of men’s sins by Christ, and the hope of eternal life.
As a pastor, my assurance of the Gospel, my teachings, along with my rebukes against all evils, are based on Christ’s commands in the Gospel, and from the unfathomable love of the glorious King. Life is short, God has urgently called the church to bring in all who are willing to repent, for Christ is ready to forgive all who turn from their sins. This is the only purpose of the church have in China: to testify Christ to the world, to reveal the Kingdom of Heaven in China, and proclaim eternal life in this short earthly life. This is also my own personal calling as a pastor.
Therefore, I accept and respect the Chinese Communist government as a temporary ruler permitted by God. As God’s servant John Calvin had said, wicked rulers are a punishment from God to a wicked people, its purpose is to urge God’s people unto repentance. For this reason, I am willing to obey their rule in my physical body, as if obeying the Lord’s discipline and training.
At the same, however, I declare that the persecution of churches by the Chinese government is an evil criminal act. I hereby renounce such a deed done by the government. My calling is to practice a peaceful civil disobedience in perseverance, disobeying all earthly laws that are breaking God’s law in the Bible. My savior Christ also commands me to endure with joy all consequences of disobedience to the evil laws.
However, I would like to clarify that my action and my church’s action of disobedience is not a civil-rights movement or political civil-disobedience of any sort. I have no intention to change the political system and laws in China. The only matter I care about as a pastor is Religious Disobedience, and its effect of brining repentance of sinners, to the glory of the Cross of Christ.
As a pastor, my action of disobedience is part of the mission of the Gospel. The Great Commission of Christ is a calling to radical disobedience to the world. The purpose of disobedience is not to change the world, but to testify for another world.
The mission of the church is to be a church, and not be a part of a worldly system. From a passive point of view, the church is to separate herself from the world—to avoid worldliness. But from a positive point of view, the mission of church is to enter the world, to testify the reality of another world. The Bible teaches us to obey God and not to obey men concerning the Gospel and conscience. Therefore, by religious disobedience and endurance in our bodies, we are showing that there is another eternal world and a King of glory.
Once again, I am not interested in changing the political and judicial systems of the Chinese government; and moreover, I am not working toward the change of religious policies or the removal of religious persecutions by the government. I will continue my religious disobedience, as long as the current or future government continue its persecutions of the church and harming man’s consciences. My mission from God is to make known to Chinese people that the hope of the society is only in the redemption of Christ, in the special sovereign grace of God.
If it was the will of God to use the persecutions of churches by the Chinese government to help Chinese people to recognize the hopeless future that they have, and to shatter their dreams of their false faiths for them to come to Christ. And also in the process to purify and build up His church, I will gladly submit to the will of God, for His will is always loving and good.
Due to my words and acts were not intended to change the society and political system, I fear not the powers of this system. For the Bible teaches that God sets up the government that the wicked might fear, not those who do good. It is not a wicked deed to believe in Jesus, and therefore we should not fear the power of darkness. Although I am weak, but I believe this is the promise of the Gospel, it is the good news I must preach to my final breath.
I also understand, this is the very reason why the Communist government is afraid of the church, who is not afraid of the government.
If my imprisonment, whether long or short, will help them to reduce their fear of my faith and my savior, I would be glad to help them in this way. But I also know, only when I say no to the evil that persecutes the church, and practice religious disobedience in peace, then I can truly provide help to those who rule in power. My yearnings are for God to use me in this way, that when I lose my physical freedom, I can proclaim to those who take freedom from me, that there is a higher power, and there is a freedom that cannot be locked up, overflowing from the church of Jesus Christ who died and rose again.
No matter what accusations they might put under my name, and in whatever ways they might smear my reputation, as long as they are concerning my faith, my writings, my speech and my evangelism, they are nothing but the lies and temptations from the devil. I will categorically deny any such accusations. I will take the consequences of disobeying the law, and I will plead “not guilty”.
I would like to point out that the greatest evil and crime of the Chinese society is the persecution of the church and all those who believe in Jesus Christ. This is not only a crime against the Christians, but also a crime against humanity. There is no greater crime in the world than a government which treats people with brutality and severe threatenings, in order to prevent them from coming to Christ.
One day this government will be overthrown by God himself, and the only reason will be none other than the vengeance and righteous judgment of the evil of the government. The Church will last for millenniums; there will be no thousand-years governments on earth. Only faith, not governments, will last for eternity.
Those who imprison me now will be imprisoned by the angels one day. Those who judge me now will be judge by Christ in the end. As I think upon these truths my heart is filled with compassion and sorrow toward those who lock me up. May the Lord use me, grant me patience and wisdom, to bring the gospel to them as well.
The rulers of this world can separate me from my wife and children, they can tarnish my name, and they can destroy my family. However, no one on earth can make me to give up my faith, to transform my life, and to give me resurrection from the dead.
Therefore, my respected rulers, I plead with you to stop your acts of evil, not for my benefit only, but for the benefit of you and your children. I plead sorrowfully with you, why must you suffer the consequences of eternal damnation in hell for a humble sinner like me?
Jesus is the Christ, He is the Son of the Eternal Living God. He died for sinners, and rose again for us. From yesterday, today, to eternity Jesus will be my King and the Lord of the world. I am His servant, imprisoned for this very reason. I will disobey peacefully to all those who disobey God, and I will joyfully disobey the laws that are disobedient to God.
I believe the Bible does not grant the government authorities to intervene in Christian religious faith and church management. Therefore, according to the Bible I am to resist in peaceful manner and joyful endurance, all efforts by the government to suppress Christian faith and worship in churches.
I believe my action is a kind of religious disobedience. A religious disobedience movement is inevitable in an authoritarian nation that is set on persecuting the church and the gospel.
I believe religious disobedience is an eschatological movement, it is a testimony of the City of God in this city of sin. Christians who participate in religious disobedience is walking a path of carrying the cross, imitating Christ who were crucified. A peaceful protest is our way of loving this world, and it is also a way to avoid worldliness.
I believe, according to the Bible, I will depend on the grace of Christ and the power of His resurrection to practice religious disobedience. I have two principles that I will not violate:
The first one is the principle of my inner heart. My love for the lost souls, and not my hate toward flesh and bones, shall be my motivation of religious disobedience. My purpose of religious disobedience is to transform souls, not to transform the society. I will have failed in my effort of religious disobedience when I become bitter and hateful, and lost my peace and patience in the face of persecutions.
The second principle is a principle of my actions. The Gospel requires a peaceful religious disobedience. The mystery of the gospel to is to endure sufferings instead of physical resistance. It is a willing heart to accept unjust treatments. A peaceful disobedience is a result of love and forgiveness. The Cross displays a willingness to suffer in an unjust place. Christ has all powers in the universe to resist persecution, yet He endured shame and suffering. The way Christ resisted the resisting world was the Cross, He stretched out an olive branch to a world which crucified Him.
I believe, Christ has called me to serve with my life, to practice religious disobedience in this nation that persecutes the Gospel and the Church. This is my way of evangelism, and this is the mystery of the Gospel I preach.
Letter released by my church after I have been jailed over 48 hours.