Rev. Jin Tianming’s Pastoral Letter: Mend the Fractures and Continue to Raise the Banner of Truth!

Translated by China Aid Association
June 3, 2010

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lily of the Covenant.” A miktam of David. For teaching. When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and when Joab returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

1 You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry—now restore us!
2 You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
3 You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
4 But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.
5 Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered.
6 God has spoken from his sanctuary: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
7 Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter.
8 Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
9 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.  (Psalms 60)

1. Prayer of DavidThis is a psalm by David and it is what David, the Israeli army and its citizens personally experienced just as what is described in the background information at the beginning of the psalms and in the poem itself.    David faced in Northern Israel a formidable enemy, which was the most powerful country in the area—Aram.  Besides, it was the largest army Aram had gathered because David described them as “Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah.” It was a battle of life and death or we could say it was a battle that would decide the life or death of the newly established Israeli dynasty.  In the heat of the battle between the two sides, a messenger of David brought him the sad news—a powerful enemy in the south took advantage of this rare opportunity and attacked.  They entered Israel from the south.  It’s easy for us to know that in order to defeat the army of Aram, David’s army was fully concentrated in the north and we believe that all the soldiers and forces he could mobilize were in the northern battlefield where there was an intense fighting. Therefore, the Edomites who excelled in fighting took the southern Israel by surprise without a fight.  Before he could win the campaign in the north, he already lost the fight in the south.

How could you feel about it if you were David or the Israelites under his leadership? It’s not hard to imagine that the deepest feeling of David and the Israelites was that they were abandoned by God and they were suffering the fury of God Himself.  It is just as described in David’s psalm: “You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us?”

“The south of Israel is taken by our enemies!” This urgent message from the messenger on a galloping horse was like an earthquake that shook the hearts of the common Israelites. Their hearts were “shaken, torn and quaking.”  Their faith in God was quaking and they were shocked, scared, confused and they cried without knowing what to do just as drunkards staggering here and there.  The Israelites that were obsessed with the northern campaign broke down and collapsed and there were cries, shouts and moaning in despair….

What would your response be if you were in such a situation?  I think we would pray, but what do we pray for?  Let’s see David’s prayer: Facing the defeats in the south, he prayed to God to restore the beaten morale of the Israeli army—“now restore us!” For the Israeli people who had lost their faith and were wavering when the southern border was broken, he prayed to God to bless His own people and prevent them from being defeated—“mend its fractures!” Besides, David knew that they were God’s people who are chosen by God from the world to form the state of Israel.  Their existence and blessings were very important, but they should not forget the meaning of their existence on earth, which is their mission assigned by God.  In this intense fight for the life and death of Israel and at a time when Israel was broken and torn, David announced and prayed before God: Israel, you shall raise the banner of truth—“But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow!”

Raise the banner of truth! This is the announcement and request coming from the hearts of worshipping God at a time of intense fighting in the torn Israel.   David prayed to God to “answer their prayer and rescue them so that what God loves can be rescued.”  Because of this prayer out of faith for God, David got what God promised and because of this promise “Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us? God…. You no longer go out with our armies?”  In this feeling of being abandoned and rejected, David could make the announcement of triumph— “Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.”  Hallelujah!

After the northern campaign was won, it is described in the Bible: “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.”  (2 Samuel 8:6).  After the enemies in the south were defeated, the Bible again says: “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went” (2 Samuel 8:14)— It turned out that what every Christian sees as a treasure was gained after such “brutal” experiences.2. We beg you to mend the fracturesWhen several co-workers left Shouwang, it was like a huge earthquake shaking the entire church and knocking against the soul of every brother and sister in Shouwang.  Like a huge earthquake, it is also followed by aftershocks.  One by one, these aftershocks happened in the life of numerous brothers and sisters.  Pain and tears, depression and restlessness, sadness and pains and sometimes people also have some anger.  They also feel their faith in God is waning and even think this incident is a sign that the church has failed.  Besides, in the sadness and pains, there is a feeling of pity for the co-workers who have left…It is hard to describe clearly and completely the blows we have sustained in our souls.  The body of Christ has now a huge fracture and who can understand fully the pains this fracture brings?  Who can mend and heal this fracture? And who can bring us consolation?

David’s prayer enlightens us—“mend its fractures.” Only God Himself and only God’s holy son who became a man and who experienced the pains of broken body can fully understand, heal and console our hearts and our church.  He is our benefactor, the great pastor of our church and only He can heal the fracture of our church.  “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.  Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3)  He is our confidence and expectation.  For this, we should first of all come before the Lord and with the feeling of an injured heart and pains and beg our Lord—Our Lord, we beg you to heal the fracture and heal our injured souls and the fracture in our Shouwang!

Now that we believe our Lord listens to our prayers and we will experience in patience and endurance the healing for our injured souls and for our church. This Holy Spirit is the spirit of the eternal God, the spirit that enabled Jesus Christ to resurrect just as is said in the Scripture: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.  (Romans 8:11) and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:19-20). And, the reason why we can endure is because the Lord has promised in His words: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)  “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalms 68:19)

Besides this, we should pay special attention to prevent the fracture from widening while we endure and experience the healing by the Holy Spirit.  The injured soul tends to express its feelings unhindered. Yet, we must not forget that though the feelings are true, they are not what we often referred to as “speaking the honest words in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  The original text of the Bible for “honest words” is “truth” and it is in a verb form.  In other words, the words we speak with a loving heart should be truth and they are not only truth, but the way and the feelings with which we speak them should also be true.  Therefore, though we speak our true feelings in the name of a loving heart, these words are after all spoken with injured feelings.  Therefore, most of the time, they sound like “angry words” to our listeners.  The speaker may think he or she says it with a loving heart, but the listener will not feel the loving heart of the speaker and can get hurt because of this.  Therefore, our injured souls and feelings should be restrained by the Holy Spirit.  Otherwise, the fractures will not only fail to heal, they will instead get wider and deeper.  From the forum, we can see that the responses to each other uttered from an unrestrained injured heart will not only fail to heal us, but will increase the fractures between us.  Then, how can we speak the truth from our loving hearts?  It is said in the Bible: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  (Corinthians 4:6).
According these two passages from the Bible, 1) Our words must be constructive, that is, it must build up people’s faith and loving hearts, instead of activating other people’s temper, thus affecting their confidence and loving hearts; 2) These words must be words of kindness.  These words of kindness are not words of flattery or words that other people love to hear.  However, these words must be uttered 100% out of God’s benevolence without being tainted with our personal flavors (Please allow me to use this metaphor: just like the 100% odorless pure fruit juice and the odorless purified water.)  3).  They must benefit the people who listen to them.  These must not be determined or provided by the speaker.  Instead, they should really occur in the listeners.  4).   They must be kind, elegant words spoken out of love, forgiveness and harmony.  If so, who dares to speak?  That’s why it is said in the Bible: “1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.”  (James 3:1-2) “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32).  This does not mean we don’t allow people to speak.  Instead, we should say more words that build up harmony between people with the help of the Holy Spirit so as to avoid the fractures in the church from expanding instead of healing.3. Continue to raise the banner of truth!Though there is a fracture in the church which is the body of Christ, we, as its limbs, feel the pains.  However, we know the miraculous Christ life in the life of Christians.  It is just like what is said in the Bible: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). Though we are jars of clay, yet there is the precious Holy Spirit in these jars of clay, which is the spirit of the eternal God who brings the life of Christ.  Because of this spirit, we the weaklings could become strong and just as Paul personally experienced and testified: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Since it is like this, what else could we say? What else could we choose but give ourselves the weaklings over to death for Jesus’ sake so as to experience the strength and power of Christ and His omnipotence in resurrection. “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (Timothy 2:3).  Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.  Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked.  With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.”  (John 18:36-38).  This truth Jesus Christ Himself testified to Pontius Pilate, the then highest magistrate in the area—-He is the king!  He is the king!

Christ is the king of heavenly kingdom and He is the only king of the church.  Any other forces have no business and no power in God’s churches. This is the prophetic message we at Shouwang Church want to pass to the rulers today who want to restrict, divide and destroy our church.  This is the voice uttered by us who are between God and the rulers.  Because of the work the Holy Spirit has done among us, we believe this is out of our worship and respect for God and out of our loyalty and submission to Christ!
Continue to raise the banner of truth!
Raise it!!

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