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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, September 25, 2011

“Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (Revelation 7:3).

The Olympics in Beijing were seen on television by countless millions around the world. The Chinese economy is booming, the fastest growing of any nation on earth. The eyes of the whole world are on China tonight! But the most astonishing thing about China is the growth of Christianity there in the past twenty-five years.

David Aikman, former Beijing Bureau Chief of Time magazine, in his book, Jesus in Beijing (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2003) said,

China is in the process of becoming Christianized. That does not mean that all Chinese will become Christians, or even that a majority will. But at the present rate of growth in the number of Christians in the countryside, in the cities, and especially within China’s social and cultural establishment, it is possible that Christians will constitute…30 percent of China’s population within three decades [now 22 years, since the book was written in 2003]…With a growth rate of 7 percent annually, the number of Christians in China [already] dwarfs the number of Christians in most nations of the earth. Like Christians throughout [other parts of] the developing world, Chinese Christians represent the vanguard [front line] of the church in the twenty-first century…the spread of China into Asia and the southern hemisphere in the past two decades will probably affect Christianity on a global scale. This has been well illuminated by Philip Jenkins in his book The Next Christendom…It is worth considering the possibility that not just the numerical, but the intellectual center of gravity for Christianity may move decisively out of Europe and North America as the Christianization of China continues and as China becomes a global superpower…Will the twenty-first century be China’s century in the world?...It has been the contention of this book that Christianity will change the nature of China in many ways over the next several decades, and in doing so, will change the world in which we live (David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2003, pp. 285, 291, 292).

But we need to be reminded that the great revival going on in China did not come easily. To use the words of Churchill in World War II, it only came with “blood, toil, tears and sweat.” The great revival in China came only through a blood-stained battle with Satan that lasted well over 100 years. I could tell you about the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Riley K. Smith said,

      The Boxers had a violent hatred of Christians…They convinced [the emperor’s aunt, Tzu Hsi] that missionaries were stealing Chinese spirits and gouging out the eyes of Chinese children to use in their medicine. The empress dowager took action against the “foreign white devils,” and on June 21, 1900 issued a secret order to execute all foreigners. The slaughter began…the Boxers began ravaging towns…they seized church rosters and went door to door maiming and beheading both missionaries and Chinese Christians…One of the bloodiest slaughters took place in Shanxi’s capital, Taiyuan. With the gates of the city ordered to be closed, foreigners were trapped.
       In late June 1900, mobs set fire to the British Baptist and Shao Yang mission compounds. The missionaries and a group of Chinese Christians sought refuge in the Baptist boys’ school a half mile away. After they arrived, one of the missionaries, Edith Coombs, realized she left two Chinese schoolgirls behind. Running back to the burning building, she rescued the girls but was caught by the mob and cornered in the flaming structure. Edith’s final action was kneeling [in prayer] in the fire as it consumed her…
       At Soping…missionaries and Chinese Christians with them were chased down, stoned to death, and decapitated. Their heads were hung on the city wall as a warning to all… One such missionary was Carl Lundberg, who tried to flee with fellow missionaries and their children to Mongolia…He wrote, “If we are not able to escape, tell our friends we live and die for the Lord. I do not regret coming to China. The Lord called me and His grace is sufficient…Excuse my handwriting, my hand is shivering.” He and others were [soon] beheaded.
       Chinese Christians were not exempt from the slaughter. Most were offered freedom if they would just renounce Christ. Some recanted; many did not. One who refused was a man known as “Faithful” Yen, who with his wife was tied to a pillar in a pagan temple…The Boxers brutally beat them with rods and then proceeded to light a fire under them, burning their legs. But the couple still refused to deny Christ. [Finally] the madmen [Boxers] released Mrs. Yen, but her husband was not so fortunate. The Boxers threw his body onto a pyre [a stack of wood] and lit it [on fire]. As his body burned in the flames [one soldier tried to save him]. The soldier was cut to pieces. Enraged at the needless violence, the soldiers then chased the Boxers out of the temple and took Mr. Yen, burned but still barely living, to the magistrate, who threw [Mr. Yen] in prison where…he died.
       When the slaughter finally subsided, more than 30,000 Chinese Christians had been martyred. In The China Martyrs of 1900, Robert Coventry Forsythe wrote that “the Boxer massacres produced more Protestant martyrs than all the previous decades of the Protestant Churches’ history in China…many suffered unspeakable tortures, and many preferred death to apostasy” (Riley K. Smith, China: The Blood-Stained Trail, Living Sacrifice Book Company, 2008, pp. 46, 47, 49, 50, 51).

Or I could tell you of the persecution by the Japanese fanatics who killed many Christians when they invaded China at the beginning of World War II. My former pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin (click here to read about him), was the head of an orphanage in China. As the Japanese were approaching, Dr. Lin herded the orphans, his wife and his daughter into a boat to escape. The Japanese airplanes flew in and shot most of those in the boat, killing Dr. Lin’s wife and daughter. Dr. Lin fell before getting on the boat and broke his neck, and thus escaped the shooting. He nearly died from the broken neck, but lived and eventually came to America, where he was my pastor and teacher for twenty-four years. Like Pastor Wurmbrand, Dr. Lin was a living martyr, a man who lived through near martyrdom, but escaped to speak for Christ.

Or I could tell you of those in China who suffered and died under the persecution of the Communist dictator Mao Tse Tung, during the “Cultural Revolution” of 1966-1969. But I will let Pastor Richard Wurmbrand do that. I knew Pastor Wurmbrand well. He spoke many times in our church. He was the respected founder of “The Voice of the Martyrs.” Click on, Pastor Wurmbrand’s website, to read about suffering Christians in China. Pastor Wurmbrand, too, was a living martyr, having spent 14 years in a Rumanian Communist concentration camp. Three of those years he was tortured in solitary confinement, never hearing a human voice or seeing the sunlight. We will watch a film of Pastor Wurmbrand called, Tortured for Christ, after this service. I will let Pastor Wurmbrand tell you about the suffering of Chinese Christians under Mao Tse Tung, during the “Cultural Revolution.” Pastor Wurmbrand said,

      The suffering of the Chinese [house churches] surpasses all imagination…Dr. D. Rees, former missionary to China, returning from a fact-finding tour, wrote to us, “All my Chinese friends have been killed or imprisoned. One has been blinded, one thrown into a well, two died of tuberculosis, and another, when brainwashed, went out of his mind and signed a recantation. When his reason returned, he tore up the recantation. But the Chinese Church is growing by thousands…
       An Indian doctor, Kamun Chandah, had his legs cut off and his eyes gouged out in one of Red China’s prisons.
       In one such incident, Vladimir Tatishtshev, a Russian, was arrested [in China] in Shanghai. The Chinese [Communist] torturers tied iron tubes to his legs with screws and hammered on them until the bones were broken, to make him confess imaginary crimes. When he refused, the Communist police went to his home. An officer picked up [his] baby and told the mother, “If you don’t sign an accusation against your husband, we will smash your baby’s head in.” The mother…refused. Then the police officer, a woman herself, smashed the baby’s head against the wall…and the other Communists shot the mother.
       Radio Moscow said on April 7, 1970, “In the course of ten years, more than 25 million [Christian] people in China were exterminated. [Others] were dumped by the millions into enormous concentration camps.”
       The Moscow newspaper Krasnaia Zvezda [7 May, 1969] wrote, “The Chinese Communist Party…has burned people’s eyes out with boiling water and sulphuric acid, hacked off [legs] with pen knives and split open skulls with stones and…broadswords.”
       Many of our Chinese brethren are groping now in blindness or creeping on their bellies, their [legs and arms] having been hacked off. [Yet] the underground church is mushrooming [with growth] (Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, Th.D., Where Christ is Still Tortured, Marshalls Paperbacks, London, 1982, pp. 130, 131).

When hearing about the unspeakable suffering and torture of Christians in China last Sunday night, someone who came to our church was heard to say, “Why are so many people becoming Christians in China even though they are imprisoned and tortured?” The answer comes from our text. During the coming Great Tribulation an angel of God will say,

“Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads”
      (Revelation 7:3).

This verse speaks of the 144,000 Jews who will turn to Christ and be sealed in their foreheads (their minds) by the Holy Spirit. We are told what this “sealing” means in Ephesians 1:12-13,

“Christ, in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:12-13).

When a person experiences real conversion, he is then sealed by the Holy Spirit. Like the 144,000 Jewish believers in the Tribulation, they are sealed by “our God in their foreheads” (Revelation 7:3). When Noah came into the Ark before the Great Flood, the Bible says, “the Lord shut him in” (Genesis 7:16). The sealing of Noah into the Ark is a type of the true convert being “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). The Jews who are converted in the Tribulation will be sealed in their foreheads, as Noah was sealed in the Ark by the Spirit of God. Once you are “shut in” and “sealed” in your mind by God’s Spirit nothing on earth can cause you to lose your salvation. You are eternally secure, “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). No amount of persecution, or even torture, can separate you from Christ when you are “sealed” in your “forehead.”

This isn’t something that will only happen to the Jewish converts in the coming Tribulation. It is happening right now to hundreds of thousands in Communist China. And it can happen to you as well.

Come to Christ. Believe on Him. Trust Him with all your heart. When you do, you will be born again. God will seal your mind so that no problem, or persecution, or trouble can ever again take away your salvation – and you will be eternally secure in Christ Jesus no matter what happens to you! That is the secret of the Jewish martyrs in the Tribulation. That is the secret of the Chinese martyrs today. They believe in Jesus, and they are eternally saved. No matter what troubles and persecutions come to them, they will never give in to Satan or go back to the world.

Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He shed His Blood to cleanse your sins. Come to Him! Trust Him! He will save you forever, and you will never be lost. No matter what trials come upon you in life, you will never leave your church, and forsake Christ!

We pray that God will bring you under conviction of sin. We pray that God will draw you to Jesus, so your sins can be cleansed by His Blood. We pray that you will soon be born again, converted through the power of God in Christ! Amen. Turn to hymn number 8 on your song sheet, “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken,” the favorite song of Dr. John R. Rice.

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!

Let the world despise and leave me, They have left my Saviour, too;
   Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like man, untrue;
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love, and might,
   Foes may hate, and friends may shun me; Show Thy face, and all is bright.

Man may trouble and distress me, ‘Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
   Life with trials hard may press me, Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
O ‘tis not in grief to harm me, While Thy love is left to me;
   O ‘twere not in joy to charm me, Were that joy unmixed with Thee.
(“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Ephesians 1:5-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” (by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).