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THE SECRET OF SUCCESS IN CHINA

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, September 18, 2011

“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)…” (Revelation 2:9).


Pastor Wang Mingdao was one of the patriarchs of Chinese Christianity in the twentieth century. He was arrested in 1958 for preaching the Gospel, and spent a total of 22 years in prison. Wang Mingdao’s biographer, Thomas Alan Harvey, said,

Regardless of which policy the Chinese government pursues, the church in China will profoundly affect the shape of Christianity worldwide for generations to come. With [about] seventy million souls and a growth rate of 7 percent annually, the number of Christians in China dwarfs the number of Christians in most nations of the earth. Like Christians throughout the developing world, Chinese Christians represent the vanguard [front rank] of the church in the twenty-first century (Thomas Alan Harvey, Acquainted With Grief, Brazos Press, 2002, p. 159).

David Aikman, in his book Jesus in Beijing, said,

It is worth considering the possibility that not just the numerical, but the intellectual center…for Christianity may move decisively out of Europe and North America as the Christianization of China continues and as China becomes a global superpower…The process may have already started in the hopes and works of China’s house church leaders (David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing, Regnery Publishing, 2003, pp. 291, 292).

Christ’s description of the church at Smyrna pictures what is happening in the “house church” movement in China today,

“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)…” (Revelation 2:9).

Concerning the church at Smyrna, Dr. James O. Combs said,

Smyrna, north of Ephesus, a congregation pastored by Polycarp for decades and who died as a martyr in 155 A.D. in his 90s…they endured much suffering and confiscation of worldly goods, but they were spiritually rich (James O. Combs, D.Min., Litt.D., Rainbows From Revelation, Tribune Publishers, 1994, p. 33).

Like the church at Smyrna, the faithful Christians in the house churches of China have suffered great persecution and “tribulation” yet they are spiritually so “rich” that their evangelism produces a growth rate of “7 percent annually” (Thomas Alan Harvey, ibid.). Thus, the number of Christians in China already “dwarfs the number of Christians in most nations of the earth.” I think that the majority of the more than 70 million Christians in China are real converts, and that there are already more Christians in China than there are in the United States, Canada, and half of Mexico. That is staggering! We should ask ourselves, “What is the reason for their success? What is the secret of their evangelism?” Why can it be said of them,

“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)…”? (Revelation 2:9).

When we consider the fact that evangelical Christianity is not growing at all in America, and the fact that many are even saying that evangelical Christianity here is dying, we in America should think deeply about what they don’t have that we have, and what they do have that we don’t have.

I. First, what they don’t have that we do have.

They don’t have church buildings! Only the Communist-backed “Three-Self” churches have buildings. But the “house churches” are the ones that are growing, and they have very few church buildings. The vast majority of them don’t have church buildings like we do!

They don’t have government approval. They are persecuted by the Communist government of China. They do not have freedom of religion like we do!

They do not have seminaries to teach pastors like we do. The only training the pastors have in China is in someone’s house – and it is very short and not very thorough. They get what little training they can “on the run.” The young pastors in China get their training from older pastors, which is actually a very good way to learn!

They do not have Sunday School buildings. They do not have buses for “bus ministries.” They do not have “Christian TV.” They do not have “Christian radio.” They do not have Christian publishing houses. They do not have equipment for “Power Points.” They do not have TV projectors to show the preacher on a large screen. They do not have “Christian rock bands.” They do not have organs, and usually they do not even have pianos. They have no printed Sunday School material. They often do not even have Bibles for everyone, or hymnals. No, they don’t have what we have! Instead, they have persecution and tribulation from the Communist government. They sometimes have to go to prison for simply being Christians. There is always the threat of that for anyone who becomes a serious Christian! Go to www.persecution.com to read about the persecution of Christians in China. And yet the Christians in China are wildly successful in winning lost souls. The number of Christians is exploding all over China, in the greatest revival of modern history!

“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)…” (Revelation 2:9).

I fear that many of our churches in America are better described by what Jesus said to the church at Laodicea,

“Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

II. Second, what they do have that we don’t have.

Here is what they have that we don’t have. And herein lies the secret of their success – and the reason for our failure!

They have suffering – and thus they learn to bear the cross! Most American Christians are unwilling to suffer the loss of one evening a week to go to prayer meeting. Most American Christians are not willing to suffer the loss of one evening a week to go soul winning. Most American Christians are not willing to lose the comfort of a Sunday evening to be in church! Many pastors in America need to lose weight. We need to suffer the loss of some calories. But in China the preachers are thin. Therefore they can preach with vigor. We need to lose weight, or we cannot preach with vigor and power. In China they have thinner men who are filled with the Spirit when they preach. I have never seen a Chinese “house church” preacher who was overweight. No wonder the house churches in China have great revival, while Christianity is drying up and fading away here in America, and throughout the Western world! It takes a certain amount of suffering to exercise. It takes suffering to be on a diet and eat less until you lose weight! It takes suffering to become the kind of person God wants you to be! The great Chinese evangelist Dr. John Sung said,

Great suffering brings about great revival…God finds the greatest use for those…who are honed in the most difficult environments…More suffering brings more benefits…The lives of disciples are likened to olives: the harder we are being pressed, the more oil will exude from within. Only those who have gone through suffering can show empathy [love] and consolation to others (John Sung, Ph.D., The Journal Once Lost, Genesis Books, 2008, p. 534).

Sing “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken.”

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee;
   Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, All I’ve sought, and hoped and known;
   Yet how rich is my condition, God and heaven are still my own!
(“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).

That was the favorite hymn of Dr. John R. Rice. Let that song become reality to us! Then we will see God move among us as He is in China! Sing it again!

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee;
   Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, All I’ve sought, and hoped and known;
   Yet how rich is my condition, God and heaven are still my own!

Jesus said,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Sing it again!

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee;
   Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, All I’ve sought, and hoped and known;
   Yet how rich is my condition, God and heaven are still my own!

“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)…” (Revelation 2:9).

They have suffering in China! Therefore they have the riches of God’s blessing in revival! Let us here in our church also deny ourselves, and take up our crosses to follow Christ – no matter what it costs!

Then, too, they have tears when they pray for the lost! One brother, who knows, said to me, “There are many tears in China.” He is exactly right! They weep when they pray for the lost. Lost people in China also weep when they are under conviction of sin. No wonder there are so many conversions to Christ! The Bible says,

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5).

Sing “The Price of Revival” by Dr. John R. Rice!

The price of revival, the cost of soul winning,
   The long hours of praying, the burden, the tears;
The pleading with sinners though lonely, a stranger,
   Is repaid at the reaping up there.
Reaping, heavenly reaping! For souls won down here.
    (“The Price of Revival” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

Pray that God will give you a broken heart for lost souls! (all pray). “The Price of Revival.” Sing it again!

The price of revival, the cost of soul winning,
   The long hours of praying, the burden, the tears;
The pleading with sinners though lonely, a stranger,
   Is repaid at the reaping up there.
Reaping, heavenly reaping! For souls won down here.

Also, they do all in their power to bring in lost souls to their “house churches.” D. L. Moody said, “Love them in.” That’s the way they get people into the house churches in China – and that is what we must do! “Love them in.” Soul winning is primarily loving people in to Christ – and in to the local church. “Love them in.” That’s not liberalism! That’s not “life-style” evangelism! That’s D. L. Moody! I think he was exactly right. It is effective in China – and it will be effective here! “Love them in.”

If we rush away from the services we will not win lost souls who come to our church. Only those who linger can win souls. Only those who are friendly to the lost before and after the services can win their souls. There is no other way to add lost souls to a church! We must “love them in” – like they do in China! Sing “Make Me a Channel of Blessing”!

Make me a channel of blessing today,
   Make me a channel of blessing, I pray;
My life possessing, my service blessing,
   Make me a channel of blessing today.
(“Make Me a Channel of Blessing” by Harper G. Smyth, 1873-1945).

I must not close this service without saying a few words to you who are not yet converted. Coming to church does not mean you are converted. Merely studying the Bible will not convert you. You must come under conviction of sin. You must repent of your sins. You must turn to Jesus Christ and come to Him. Jesus died in agony and Blood on the Cross to save your soul from sin and judgment. You must be washed clean from your sins by His Blood. Come to Jesus and be saved from sin, death and Hell. You must be born again. It is our prayer that you will have that experience. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Revelation 2:8-11.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“So Little Time” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE SECRET OF SUCCESS IN CHINA

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)…” (Revelation 2:9).

I.   First, what they don’t have that we do have, Revelation 3:17.

II.  Second, what they do have that we don’t have, Matthew 16:24;
Psalm 126:5.