Brother Yun, author of the international best-selling book, “Heavenly Man” has published a collection of his teachings in a new book called, “Living Water.” The sermons gathered in this remarkable work are true lessons from Scripture, made all the more powerful by seeing them reflected in the experiences Brother Yun faced as a pastor persecuted in China. These two books reveal a true servant of the Lord and illustrate the beauty of a fire-tested faith.
The following chapter on Repentance was taken from his new book by Brother Yun (of Back to Jerusalem ministry) called Living Water.
It is a bit long, but very powerful:
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.” Revelation 3:19
One of the greatest missionaries to China in the twentieth century was a single Norwegian woman named Marie Monsen.
Although I was not even born when she ministered throughout my home province of Henan, I heard many stories from elderly brothers and sisters who knew her and were blessed by her ministry.
Marie Monsen was a Lutheran missionary, but her fervency and uncompromising message frequently put her at odds with her missionary society. Church leaders told me how much
Monsen loved the Chinese people, especially the family of God, and how she was willing to do whatever was necessary to serve Jesus. In those days (the 1920s and ’30s), life was extremely
difficult for foreign missionaries in China. They had to contend with terrible opposition everywhere they went, mobs of bandits roaming the countryside and a devastating civil war.
Monsen had one main message that she preached everywhere she went. She taught that to be a follower of Christ, a person has to first thoroughly repent of their sins. By that she didn’t simply mean that people must confess their sins and ask forgiveness. That was only the first step. She meant that their whole lives, desires, motives and plans must be surrendered to God. Each Christian must die to self and completely hand their past, present and future over to the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of her favorite Bible passages was
I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
On occasions the holy anger of God came upon Marie Monsen, and she often convicted her fellow missionaries and the Chinese church leaders of their lukewarm commitment and secret sins. Many were told they were hypocrites, and Monsen was never afraid to set forth the standard of God’s holiness. Monsen frequently asked missionaries if they had ever really experienced a rebirth in Christ and if they had completely surrendered their lives to Him. This must have come as a shock to many missionaries who, it was supposed, had forsaken all to serve Christ on the other side of the world. More than a few of them, however, were convicted by the searching light of the Holy Spirit and could not confidently say that they had ever been converted. Monsen led a number of her fellow missionaries into a personal relationship with Jesus.
Because most of the Henan Christians in the pre-Communism era had been so strongly challenged to thoroughly repent and be in right relationship with God, they were able to better
withstand the storms of persecution that buffeted the Chinese church throughout the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. I have heard countless stories of men and women who sacrificed their lives as martyrs for Jesus during this time. One pastor had a noose placed around his neck and was made to stand atop three tables stacked on top of each other. The pastor’s wife, children and extended family were all called to the police station to witness the scene.
The officers gruffly declared, “You have two options! Either you choose to continue believing in Jesus, or you deny Jesus. Make your choice now!”
The aged pastor looked down into the eyes of his beloved family, but he knew what he must do. He calmly announced, “Even if you cut off my head and my blood covers the ground, I will never deny Jesus.”
Immediately the officers kicked the legs of the bottom table, causing the structure to collapse. In an instant the noose tightened and the pastor went to be with Jesus Christ forever. Due to the example of many God-fearing people like this, the church in my province, which had numbered only in the tens of thousands of believers prior to 1949, today numbers in the millions. Disciples from Henan have been sent out all over China as ambassadors of the good news.
As I have traveled around the world, I have come to realize that the kind of message Marie Monsen and other missionaries preached in China is much needed today. Repentance is a
foundational key to the Christian life, but in many places it has been a neglected doctrine. In countless churches today, preachers have watered down their message so that it does not bear much resemblance to the gospel as outlined in the Scriptures.
Instead of people hearing that God’s kingdom is available to all those who are willing to forsake the world and wholeheartedly follow Jesus, thousands of sermons are preached every Sunday
in which Jesus is presented as a Savior only, but not as Lord and Master. People are told “Jesus will help you, bless you, forgive you and empower you.” But very little is said about repentance,
humility and sacrifice.
You see, we are all called to run a race for Jesus, and repentance is the starting line of that race. It’s futile to try to run the race if you never made it to the starting line to begin with! This
is the problem with many believers today. They are trying to follow the Lord, but they have never truly repented and surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. The result of the false gospel so prevalent today can be seen in churches full of halfhearted Christians whose lives are still centered on selfishness and the principles of the world.
Jesus came to bring the kingdom of God to the earth. He came to completely transform individuals, families and nations from the inside out – a radical revolution that would change the
world through obedient, blood-bought servants who are willing to bow their knee and say, “Lord, after all You have done for me, what would You have me do for You?”
Jesus told the church in Laodicea, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I
am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15–16). This message from the resurrected Lord must have been an awful shock to the Laodicean Christians! They were well-off, comfortable and self-sufficient. They probably thought that Jesus was proud of their achievements and appreciative of their pious acts. Instead of patting them on the back, however, Jesus exposed the reality of their spiritually diseased condition:
“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
Why did Jesus say these harsh words? Did He hate the Laodicean believers? Certainly not! In fact, His motivation – as always – was one of love, tough love. He loved the Laodiceans
so much that He could not sit idly and let them perish in their sin and selfishness.
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent” (Rev. 3:19).
Repentance is both the first step to walking in the kingdom of God and the key to continuing in a place of obedience and submission to the Lord. The very first message Jesus proclaimed in His ministry was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17). Without a deep experience of repentance in our lives, we will continually struggle with basic sin and never mature as believers.
The Devil doesn’t care if you have served the Lord in the past. What makes him frightened is if you are living for Jesus Christ today, relying on and trusting Him right now, and being willing to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We may look like we belong in the kingdom of God, and we may be successful in tricking other people, but the all-knowing God cannot be fooled. We have to submit to Jesus as Lord and King if we want to dwell in His kingdom. We cannot trick God, whose “solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and,
‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness’ ” (2 Tim. 2:19).
Jesus longs to have us all at His wedding banquet, but we cannot enter if we continue to live according to the principles of the world. The parable of the wedding banquet says:
“When the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
God knows who is a citizen of His kingdom and who is an impostor. If we have received an invitation to the wedding feast of the kingdom of God, we must wear the clothes that He tells
us to, and not our own. We must accept His Word and live by it, aligning our lifestyle and choices to match the commands of the King. This is repentance.
Repentance is such an integral part of Christian life. In fact, without repentance it is impossible to live in the kingdom of God. Living with one foot in God’s kingdom and one foot in the world is no different than an unfaithful spouse with two lovers. James put it quite bluntly: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?
Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?” (James
John similarly wrote,
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15–17).
One day we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be required to account for our lives. Now is the time to repent, before it is too late! “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30–31).
Dear friend, if you sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit tugging at your conscience, then fall on your knees and cry out to God from a repentant heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to take full control of your life and to help you daily walk in humility and dependence on Him.
Such a powerful book.