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by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, February 2, 2020

“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)” (Revelation 2:9; p. 1332 Scofield).

Jesus said these words to the church at Smyrna. They suffered persecution for believing in Jesus. They lost everything they owned. They were poor on earth, but Jesus called them rich. They had great spiritual blessings and they would have tremendous rewards when Christ returns to set up His Kingdom. Jesus told them they were good. He blessed them!

Today Jesus would say the same thing to the Christians in China. I’m not talking about the phony “show” churches that work with the government. I’m talking about the Christians in the underground house churches that put Christ first no matter what the cost. They suffer prison and death – for Jesus. They lose everything they have – for Jesus. Today He would bless and honor them!

While they are poor on earth, Jesus thinks they are rich! They are richer than the weak, “easy” Christians here in America. The new-evangelicals in America have money, but spiritually they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). I have no praise or blessing for American new-evangelicals. But today I say, “Bless the Christians in China!” I will give you three reasons to bless them.

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I. First, bless the Christians in China for their culture!

It isn’t politically correct to say that one culture is better than another. But it’s true. The Chinese – not just the Christians, but all Chinese – have a better culture than we do. They have what we used to have. We used to have the “Protestant work ethic.” Americans make fun of that today. They want a laid-back sloppy culture. The Protestant work ethic is the same as the Chinese work ethic. It means work is good and laziness is bad. It follows the Bible, which says,

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard [lazy person]; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8).

This is why the Chinese get ahead! The Chinese work. The Americans don’t. What will happen to our country? Poverty. The Bible says,

“How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 6:9-11).

This is why most Americans don’t get ahead. They are lazy sluggards. Be like the Chinese! Let me tell you about the Chinese work ethic. Here are some quotations:

The ethos of the Chinese culture work ethic is that hard work pays off and contributes to a happy life. One such proverb is shìshàng wú nánshì, which translates to “nothing is impossible to a willing mind.”

[The American writer] Mark Twain once observed that “a lazy Chinaman does not exist,” and added, “He always manages to find something to do” (“7 Important Things You Can Learn from the Chinese Work Ethic,” March 5, 2018,

That’s why most of what we buy is made in China. Soon they will dominate the world!

The Chinese don’t just have a work ethic. They have a study ethic. Chinese parents push their children to study. A newspaper in Canada said, “Asian American parents provide a constant wind beneath their children's wings” (Daily Mail, May 23,2014).

That’s why Chinese students score far above whites, Blacks and Hispanics on college admissions tests like the SAT. When I taught math at UCLA, many of my students were Chinese – and they got the best grades of all!

Most Chinese people are not wild and rebellious like Americans. Confucius taught them to respect older people, especially their parents. This is called “filial piety.” The Chinese word is “Xiao,” pronounced “Hsiao.” The Encyclopedia Britannica wrote,

Xiao [is] the attitude of obedience, devotion, and care toward one’s parents and elder family members that is the basis of individual moral conduct and social harmony.

The Bible says the same thing, “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12). Confucius put together a system where the lower level obeys the higher. This comes out not only with father and son, but with a leader and a follower. This is why most Chinese people can be excellent church members when they trust Jesus. No church splits for them! It isn’t in their culture. I’m glad we’re starting a Chinese church in the San Gabriel Valley and working with people from a better culture! I’m so glad we’re leaving the inner city with all of its craziness and rebellions. You can’t build a good church with inner-city instability and rebellion. Let’s build a better church with the Chinese!

But I must say one thing before moving to the next point. Honoring your parents is good, but never forget that the highest Person of all is God. That’s why Jesus said,

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).

Respect your parents, but remember that God is higher than them. If your non-Christian parents tell you not to follow Jesus, love them, but still follow Christ, who is higher than father or mother. Later they will see that Jesus made you better. But always put Him first!

II. Second, bless the Christians in China for their faithfulness under persecution!

Jesus said to the persecuted church at Smyrna, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). They knew the truth of what the Apostle Paul said, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (II Timothy 2:12). It’s the same way in China today. The government is against the real Christians, but they stay faithful to Jesus. One newspaper said,

Churches are shuttered or razed completely, Bibles confiscated and believers sent to 're-education' camps (Washington Times, June 6, 2018).

Government officials dynamited the Golden Lampstand Church, one of the largest evangelical churches in the northern Shanxi province. Other strategies include razing crosses from the horizon, confiscating Bibles or censoring certain passages, installing pulpit cameras that can recognize faces and sending believers to “re-education camps” (ibid.).

This is a terrible persecution. Would you stand up under it? I know the Chinese Christians will! What we go through is so small. All that happens is that someone talks bad about you. They suffer prison and death. Can you suffer a few hard words? Can you change your schedule so you can follow Christ? Can you take it when people talk bad about you? Most Americans won’t change anything, or go through anything, for Christ. What about you?

The most diabolical attack on Christianity in China is not physical. It is spiritual. They are trying to destroy the Christians’ souls. Listen as I read you some reports.

Churches that have crucifixes on the inside must put up pictures of Chairman Mao and Chairman Xi [Jinping] on both sides of the cross (Christian Post, September 28, 2018).

In the beginning of every church worship service, the choir of the church has to sing a few communist revolutionary songs praising the communist party before they can sing the worship songs (ibid.).

But it gets even worse.

The Chinese government is supervising a five-year plan to make Christianity more compatible with socialism in which there will be a “rewrite” of the Bible… by “retranslating” the Old Testament and providing new commentary to the New Testament [to make the Bible follow Communism] (ibid.).

The government Three-Self churches will accept the Communist book. But this is a terrible sin. Jesus said about the Bible,

“If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18, 19).

Do not add or take away from the Bible – at the peril of your soul! I am sure the underground house church Christians will stay with the true Word of God, even under prison or death. This is a life-or-death test. Could you stand up? The Chinese Christians will! Will you suffer for your faith when the time comes? It may be sooner than you think!

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

III. Third, bless the Christians in China for their evangelism!

The Christians in China don’t deny Christ under persecution. But they do much more than that. Under terrible pressure, facing death, they keep on evangelizing. They win souls to Jesus at the risk of their lives!

One Chinese pastor said, “Yes, I am afraid, but I have to keep doing God's work.” And he does! He knows that Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). He knows that Christ said, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). And he knows that the Saviour commanded all His disciples to the end of the age,

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Our Lord’s command is for all Christians in all churches everywhere. There is no exception for persecution. And the Chinese Christians don’t just witness to other Chinese people. The Chinese churches send out missionaries! An international newspaper says,

There are about 1,000 Chinese missionaries outside the country, compared with virtually none a decade ago, according to churches and academics. Church leaders hope to increase their number to 20,000 by [2030]. The Wanbang Missionary Church in Shanghai…has 20 missionaries overseas, mostly in Southeast Asia and the Middle East… Chinese missionaries Meng Li Si and Li Xinheng, were killed in Pakistan (Financial Times, August 20, 2017).

Many churches in China are inspired by a movement called “Back to Jerusalem”, named after a Chinese pastor’s vision of converting populations from east China going all the way to Jerusalem. Their website reported

a total of 274 missionaries working as of June in what it calls the “darkest regions of the world,” including 56 in Egypt, 30 in Myanmar and 20 in Pakistan (Financial Times, ibid.).

Egypt and Pakistan are Muslim countries. Myanmar is a Buddhist country ruled by a tyrannical dictatorship. But the Christians in China go there with the Gospel! And that’s not all! Chinese churches’ most ambitious plan is “Mission China 2030”, which aims to send 20,000 faithful Christians overseas by 2030 (ibid.). The persecuted Chinese will take the Gospel to Muslim countries and other places where Western missionaries fear to go. They will evangelize the world!

What is behind all this? Why do the Chinese Christians evangelize even if it costs them their lives? They have a love for Jesus and a heart to win souls!

An American woman went to China and saw the house church Christians. They said, “We don't understand anything about leadership, we don't understand about Western leadership methods…All we know how to do to is pray, all we know how to do is believe God. That's how we had revival in China when we're not allowed to carry the Word of God. The only leadership training we give our people is, we teach them how to witness to their executioner on their way to their execution” (Fox News, June 17, 2019). Jesus says to them,

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

Those are the Christians in China, the finest in the world. All honor to them! Now I ask you, “Are you like them even a little?” Don’t shrink back under a little persecution. Don’t turn away from Christ when people talk bad about you. And remember their evangelism! Take time to go after the lost – even when you’re on your own – not just when the church does it together. Put time into it. Go after the lost. Meet them and get their phone numbers. Text them and call them. Be friendly to them. And bring them to church where they can hear the Gospel preached. The Chinese people in the San Gabriel Valley are the best prospects we’ve ever seen. They have a fine culture. Many of them are interested in becoming Christians. But you won’t win them if you don’t go after them. Let’s go! Let’s go!

Some of you have not trusted Jesus. You do not live the Christian life, because you are not a Christian. You are still in your sins. What makes the difference between the Christians in China and you? Jesus. Jesus died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He shed His Blood to wash your sin away. He rose from the dead to give you life. They trusted Jesus. You haven’t. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please come to the front of the room at the end of this sermon. Amen.



by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

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

I.    First, bless the Christians in China for their culture!
Proverbs 6:6-8, 9-11.

II.   Second, bless the Christians in China for their faithfulness
under persecution! Revelation 2:10; II Timothy 2:12;
Revelation 22:18, 19.

III.  Third, bless the Christians in China for their evangelism!
Mark 16:15; Luke 14:23; Matthew 28:19, 20.