It’s really quite amazing how quickly we can become dependent upon methods of men and systems of study. How easy it is to forget that our God is not bound by what we have decided and concluded about Him, regardless of how many years we have diligently pursued Him academically.
There are foundational truths that He lays down in His Word. There are covenants that He has made with man and the heavens and the earth that are solid and sealed and will never be changed or revoked. These things He has revealed to us, we can count on with firm assurance. However, what we cannot do is use them to bind Him.
Last week in our church service at Central our Pastor shared about the the Shantung Revival. He shared that it was in the notes at the Southern Baptist Mission Board that as the dangers escalated in China, as the Depression continued in America, as the missionaries saw very little response to the gospel of Jesus Christ, some of them simply decided that the Chinese’s lack of response to the gospel was due to the fact that God had not “elected” them to salvation. The missionaries had preached, the Chinese refused to hear, and now it was out of their hands and it was time to pull out.
It would be a Norwegian Lutheran woman also serving as a missionary in China who would bring a message from God to all the Chinese missionaries to let them know that the problem was not the Chinese people, the problem was them. She had been captured by pirates and held hostage on her way to meet with the missionaries in Hwanghsien. You see this missionary had a reputation, of going about and asking people if they were born again. This included the captain of the pirates that held her hostage and the other 200 men of his crew. It was even reported that she asked Missionaries themselves, “Have you been born again?” (The Shantung Revival by Mary K. Crawford)
She made it to Hwanghsien several months after her capture, and true to her reputation she asked the Southern Baptist missionaries, “Have you been born again?”
And what they discovered was no, many had not.
“One young man tried to deceive himself and others; he insisted he was saved. He was a worker. But He could not deceive the Holy Spirit. One night the healthy young man was suddenly struck down in the court-yard. He had to be carried in, stiff and blue and cold. Friends burdened for his soul were kneeling at his side crying for mercy. The Missionary called into his ears.” “Confess your sins quickly”! And as soon as he could open his mouth he just poured out his black sins, and stood on his feet again, a forgiven sinner. Praise the dear Lord, the Saviour of all sinners!
Several others have had God’s hand on them in the same way. One old, hardened sinner, also a worker, and a much prayed for man, one evening could not possibly keep his seat. In spite of himself he had to get up, he had to go to the front, and he just had to pour out a life of black sins before them all. No public confessions had been made before. He just confessed, — he had to — but seemed hard and cold and untouched through it all, and the atmosphere of the place seemed suddenly changed, the church seemed filled with evil spirits. But the next day he was a broken man, tears streaming down his face. He seemed to be set free, but he has many things to put right.”
If you are truly born again. You can feel when a church has been filled with evil spirits. You can feel when your home has been filled with evil spirits. You can feel when someone in your presence is filled with evil spirits. You can feel when you yourself are under the oppression of evil spirits.
Here these serving missionaries were declaring the Chinese people not elected by God and they themselves knew Him not. They were nominal Christians only. Well trained, well appearing, determinedly serving Him through works, but they knew Him not. Their lips professed Him, but their hearts were far from Him.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Are you one who claims to be a servant of the gospel. Are you a teacher, a pastor, a deacon, an elder, a pastor, a priest?
Oh beloved, have you been born again?
Are you blaming your lack of “fruit” on the hearts of others and on the power of prevailing darkness? Do you use the excuse of the end of the age, the latter times, as your reasoning for the absence of salvations and revival in your church and your own life?
Know now… that just as in the days of the Shantung Revival. The problem is not with the darkness. The problem is with the light. You can not be the light if you do not have the Light. If you are born again, is the Holy Spirit of God being quenched within you?
How big is your God?
Is He big enough to save you? Is He big enough to demand your entire heart? Is He big enough to cause you to be broken over your sin? Is He big enough to bring revival to your soul? Is he big enough to cause you to be humbled under His mighty hand? Is He big enough to heal your heart, your mind, your body, and your soul? Is he big enough to lead you to make restitution to others?
Our Pastor that shared during the prayer meeting that initiated this revival the Norwegian Lutheran Missionary asked if any among them needed a healing. Finally one of the older missionaries raised her hand. She was going blind. The doctors knew no cure for her degenerate eye disease and they had reached the limit of the strength of the lenses that they could give her. She came forward and they gathered around her and laid hands upon her and began a James 5 prayer for healing. In the midst of the prayer for her healing the missionaries through the power of the Holy Spirit turned their prayers toward personal confession of sin and repentance. Those gathered there, including the old missionary who raised her hand had forgotten that the initial prayer was for her healing. Finally someone asked her how were her eyes and it was then that she realized that she could see. She never had to have more than reading glasses until the day of her death.
I will close this post with another testimony from the Shantung Revival from a Southern Baptist Missionary…
“All this time I had not doubted my salvation, or I hardly believe that I would have come back to China. I had been back just a year when Miss. M. came. Something in me did not want her to come. But one day a fellow Missionary gave me the thought that the thing to do was to pray, ‘Lord, send a revival, and begin in me.’
When the meeting began I hoped the speaker would not ask me the question, “Are you born-again?” I sat near the front in the foreign meetings to be sure she would not detect any lack in me. O, my deceitful heart, when I should have been eager for the light which I did not have! She asked us Missionaries to help her in personal work by asking the Chinese if they were ‘born again.’ This I did one morning after Chinese service, and the question choked me, and my heart bore witness, ‘You’re not born-again yourself, how can you ask that question?’
This was early in the meetings; by Wednesday I was very miserable, but tried to keep happy and singing, consoling myself that if I could sing I knew I was saved. Wednesday p.m., I went through a period of questioning. M. was at home and I talked to her, whether she answered or not I do not know, but she did not give me any comfort, for which I praise the Lord. It was a series such as this: ‘I think I’m saved.’ ‘How could I be here if I were not saved’ ‘I hope l am saved,’ well, I guess I am saved,’ well, I ought to be,’ and so on. Then I went to work and to the afternoon meeting.
I had planned to ask Miss. M. to walk with me and put the facts of my case before her so as to make her think I was talking about someone else. When I asked her she indifferently replied, ‘No, I am going with someone else.’ I went home and felt that there was no help, ate a little supper and to the hospital for prayers with the nurses. One of the nurses asked me what was the difference between ‘believe and be saved’ and be ‘born again.’ (Believe can be used in a sense such as to believe the fact of Christ’s advent and teachings without the work of grace in a heart changed by Him.) I answered, ‘You will find out later.’
I went home, M. was out; I was in the big house alone. I knelt by the bed and prayed, ‘Lord, I don’t know whether I’m saved or not but you know; I want to be right with you and with man, please show me what is wrong.’ My sins came before me like darkness, and I cried, what can I do?’ Just then the burden rolled away and the Light of Salvation shone in my soul. I saw my sins and I saw the Cross. Such joy flooded my being but it was only a moment before the temptation, ‘It cannot last, such joy as this,’ but then came the blessed assurance in Rom. 8 that ‘neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor — height nor depth nor any other creature should be able to separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.’
Quickly I jumped up to run down stairs to hunt a sheet of precious promises printed in Chinese. I looked up the promises in English and wrote them in the back of my Bible. They were the most precious words I had ever known! Then I took paper and pencil and began writing a letter home confessing how far short I had fallen of all they had believed me to be and sending back a dollar to pay for the twenty-five cents that I had stolen when a child.
Then and there the Bible became a new book to me; I was a new creation in Christ Jesus. I knew that as God revealed my sins to me I would do what He suggested about restitution. I was full of joy and peace about my salvation, but after meeting with God I wanted every pretence and wrong dealing with man made straight. Some things were hard, but He made it harder not to do this. He showed me many things and it has brought me joy as one thing after another has been made right with man.”