There was an old pastor from Hong Kong who told me I needed to go to seminary. He shared his story with me, of how he was willing to give up his salary to go to seminary and become a preacher. He encouraged me as well. I was still fearful, I thought I needed to raise my family and make money. If I went to seminary, who’s going to give me money?
People would talk about, “Oh, humans are sinners.” But they never talked about what a sinner actually is. Before, I thought, “I’m a pretty good person.” And then all of a sudden, I knew I was no good. I had a bad habit, and I knew that was no good. All of a sudden I thought, “Oh! I understand!” At the same time I thought, “This is what I need.”
“When we are renewed by the gospel, then the whole church — from our ministry culture to our ministry direction — will become united, and things will be easier. I cannot do it all by myself. I believe this is no longer a generation in which it is possible for one person to lead or influence the church of an entire region. We need to move forward as a community.”
My wife and I were on our guard against anything to do with faith. We didn’t want to accept anything like that. But this neighbor, this sister, she was really wise. She loved our daughter. My wife and I would fight and quarrel, and my daughter was hurt by it all. This neighbor was really great to my daughter. She would buy her small gifts, snacks and things to eat, toys. This sister would also take our daughter to church.
At that time, if we knew that this family went to burn incense or that family went to worship, we would stop and tell them, “This is no good.” It’s not just that we ourselves didn’t believe in anything, we would also try to make others disbelieve. I had an atheistic worldview.
How can a powerful China be not a disaster to the world, but a blessing to the world? Only the gospel can do this. Our Lord is all-powerful. He is called the Lion of Judah, yet he has a big and tender heart and is called the Lamb of God. He surrendered himself for sinners, to serve. Only the gospel can change the heart of a nation, making the powerful become a servant to serve the world.
“In past years, every time you have come we have respected you, talked with you, and answered any questions. But if you ask us to register in the Three Self movement, we are done with this kind of talk. Since the first day I was ordained as a house church minister, I have been ready to pay the price for my faith. If some day you come to take me, you are welcome to do that. I don’t hate you —really — but I have to be accountable before my Lord.”
The people of Chongqing do not think life there is all that pleasant or easy. To many missionaries Chongqing is hard ground. The people [care] very much about what they eat and what they wear, and the lust of the eyes—this is Chongqing culture. It is very worldly, and it places great value on the pleasures of this life. It has also been said that Chongqing is one of the cities in China with a higher percentage of homosexuality.
Justification and sanctification are vital and inseparable in Protestant soteriology. Though there is great discontinuity between many aspects of Protestant and medieval soteriology, there is also significant continuity in other aspects, especially in their efforts to maintain consistency in their exegesis of all of scripture and revelation relating to salvation and in their efforts to construct a comprehensive soteriology. As we emphasize justification by faith, we must also simultaneously strive to preach and practice a comprehensive soteriology, so that God’s glorious grace might be praised. Theology is a response of the church toward the redemptive work of God and the revelation of scripture. All knowledge is personal, and this necessarily includes knowledge relating to the worship of God and its practical implications. Thus, the history of theology is also the history of the church.
Anthropology is deeply connected to soteriology because it determines the structure, depth, and breadth of soteriology… In an emaciated anthropology, emphasizing justification by faith, or even attempting to construct an entire identity on the doctrine of justification by faith, can very easily reduce soteriology to “justification by faith” while losing the motivation for sanctification. Sanctification becomes merely an adornment or addition to justification, no more than a proof that man has been justified.