“Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake,” Matthew 24:9.
Many millions of Chinese people have, in times past, been won to Christ under the gospel. No greater example of this can be found than in the ministry of Hudson Taylor (1832-1905). It was said of him: “No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematised plan of evangelising a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.”
Under his and his associates’ labours, many thousands of Chinese were converted to Christ and mission stations and schools founded. He spent fifty-four years in China and it is calculated that he was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country, starting 125 schools and the establishment of more than 300 stations of work with more than 499 local helpers in all 18 provinces. A devout Baptist, he was the founder of the China Inland Mission.
However, that harvest field came under great and increasing persecution due to the rise and eventual victory of Communism over all its opponents some seventy five years ago. On October 1, 1949, Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong declared the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The announcement ended the costly full-scale civil war between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT). The creation of the People’s Republic of China also completed the long process of governmental upheaval in China begun by the Chinese Revolution of 1911. The 1911 ‘Revolution’ brought to an end the long succession of ‘dynasties’, a form of ‘feudalism.’
The story of Hudson Taylor’s labours is a great read for any young Christian. He was, to a large degree, the epitome of the Christian missionary!
Today, the suffering of God’s people in China is increasing as Communism continues its callous and cruel crusade against that which is defines as a myth and a delusion! That Bible Christianity is no mere ‘myth’ may be seen in that the orchestrated barbarity of the powerful Communist Party in China cannot eradicate it. Rather, despite all that the Christians are called upon to endure, a remnant patiently and peacefully remains faithful to Christ and His cause and continues to see souls saved.
Many people and organisations have sought to aid their fellow believers behind the ‘Red Curtain’, despite the difficulties placed in their path by the Chinese authorities. I know of none more praiseworthy than the ‘Hudson Taylor Ministries’, which seeks to spread the Reformed Faith by various means amongst the native Chinese people.
Many thousands of believers have been faithful unto death in that vast land. But I think that, according to the verse of Scripture at the start of this article, we should take special note of the sufferings of God’s people there.
The Lord Jesus here says to us that “ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” The timing of this is given us in the words of the Saviour in verse 8. “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” The time of ‘sorrow’ begins with a rising and increasing of hatred of God and His people throughout the world.
I think we can see that rising tide of animosity.
We in the United Kingdom have enjoyed comparative ‘gospel liberty’ for many centuries. There have been times of persecution experienced by our forefathers in times such as the Counter Reformation and other attempts by the devil to overthrow the truth of God in our land, but due to the merciful providence of God, the devil’s efforts were largely unsuccessful.
Of late, we have seen in our land the same tactics as those which the Chinese Communists presently employ, though in a much more subtle, a less brutal manner. I refer to the seeking to pass off a ‘fake church’ with a ‘fake gospel’ and a ‘fake Jesus’, as a means of deceiving the saints of God.
China has what is colloquially known as ‘The Three-Self Church’. The ‘Three-Self’ refers to ‘self-governance, self-support and self-propagation.” It is, of course, the official government supervisory organ for Protestantism in the People’s Republic of China. It is Communist run and controlled and its pulpits are used as a means of lying indoctrination and suppression of the truth of Christ, through the preaching of the ‘pastors’ that it controls.
The devil’s tactic here in this part of the world, while having the same objective, is nevertheless somewhat more low key. That would be due to the long established identification of the British people with the gospel. Subverting such a deep-rooted national association with the Bible would take time to accomplish. This the devil understands. But nevertheless that ‘undermining’ has been going on for well over 100 years and is well advanced.
In the days of the apostles, it was stated that a tactic employed by the devil was already evident. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them,” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him,” 2 Corinthians 11:1-4. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed,” Galatians 1:6-9.
These three instances show that what the Chinese Communists are doing today, was being attempted back in the first years of the New Testament gospel church.
As I have said, we have here in the United Kingdom seen the same religious trickery at work for over 100 years. It is generally termed ‘Modernism’, ‘Liberalism’ or better known as ‘Ecumenism’! Under these terms, evil men have gradually been replacing the truth of God with the false and fanciful notions of men within the established churches. Today we have reached the stage where the very doctrines of the devil are openly presented in the pulpits and embraced in the pew as the TRUTH OF GOD in the ‘mainline’ denominations.
Jude was very correct when he said, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ,” Jude 1:4.
Please note what is here stated by Jude. The devil does not desire to merely ‘tamper with the edges’ of the gospel. He plans to turn the ‘grace of our God into lasciviousness’, and deny the ‘only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ’.
That is what the final apostasy will develop into. It will reach its zenith when, as Paul tells us, the Antichrist will arise, claiming that he is God. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.
In the meantime, I believe we can see in China’s bitter persecution of God’s people, a preview of what lies ahead for all believers.
As a nation, China embodies in its ‘ideology’ the very embryo of what the Bible reveals to us regarding full-blown ‘Antichristianity’!
1. China has advanced through its mercantile activities. It seems that you cannot purchase anything that has not been made in China! The empire of Antichrist will be a trading empire. His lies and deceptions will be spread amongst the nations by his ‘merchants’. “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies, . . . for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived,” Revelation 18:3, 23.
2. Western governments are most anxious to maintain trading links with China. This is even so despite knowing that her merchandise is manufactured virtually by ‘slave labour’! Even the mighty American ‘Apple’ corporation have been accused of using the exploited labour available in China’s manufacturing ‘empire’ to increase its wealth.
3. It is a deceitful nation. The activities of its ‘spy network’ is widely reported. The BBC news recently carried this headline — “MI5 head warns of ‘epic scale’ of Chinese espionage”.
The internet encyclopaedia, ‘Wikipedia’, has this to say on the matter.
“The Government of China is engaged in espionage overseas, directed through diverse methods via the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the United Front Work Department (UFWD), People’s Liberation Army (PLA) via its Intelligence Bureau of the Joint Staff Department, and numerous front organizations and state-owned enterprises.
It employs a variety of tactics including cyber espionage to gain access to sensitive information remotely, signals intelligence, human intelligence as well as influence operations through united front activity targeting overseas Chinese communities and associations. The Chinese government is also engaged in industrial espionage aimed at gathering information and technology to bolster its economy, as well as transnational repression of dissidents abroad such as supporters of the Tibetan independence movement and Uyghurs as well as the Taiwan independence movement, the Hong Kong independence movement, Falun Gong, pro-democracy activists, and other critics of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The United States alleges that the degree of intelligence activity is unprecedented in its assertiveness and engagement in multiple host countries, particularly the United States, to which various US officials contend economic damages, prosperity and stolen innovations have resulted in $US320-445 billion annually since its inception and activities.”
Much of its commercial and military innovations are the result of illegal duplicating of technical advances and inventions stolen by way of its spying.
In all of this we see something of what the Bible reveals will be the full-blown commercial empire of the ‘Antichrist’. The Bible reveals its destruction under the judgment of God and tells us of the character of its ubiquitous, global activities.
“And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate,” Revelation 18:11-19.
What is said in verse 13 of that passage should be noted. “ . . . slaves, and souls of men.” Antichrist’s empire will deal in slavery and in the exploitation of the souls of men! Can any deny that such is what China presently engages in?
Throughout Holy Scripture we are taught that we may find early warnings of what is coming upon mankind, pictured for us in the events of history or in the early signs of the ‘plague of depravity’ which has already broken out in some nations.
The Saviour said: “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed,” Luke 17:26-30.
Like the first ‘blemish’ in the skin tells the leper what is coming upon him, so we should note, in the light of Matthew 24:9, the antichristian activities in China and recognise such as a portent of what lies ahead for this world.
The one who believes the Bible and studies its clear predictions regarding the end times it may be said, as was said of the Thessalonians, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief,” 1 Thessalonians 5:4.
Let us all heed the words of the Saviour.
“So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation (the word may be translated ‘nation’ and understood to refer to the nation of Israel) shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man,” Luke 21:31-36.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
3rd January 2024