AT WHAT POINT DO WE DISOBEY THE GOVERNMENT?

The following is a treatise written by Wang Yi, a pastor in China under house arrest for preaching the gospel and faithful disobedience. The time in America for faithful disobedience is on the horizon and we must possess the loving attitude and the holy courage that our Chinese brother and leader displayed. This excellent letter was drafted by Wang Yi.

China's Pastor Wang Yi gets nine years in jail for 'inciting ...

What Constitutes Faithful Disobedience

I firmly believe that the Bible has not given any branch of any government the authority to run the church or to interfere with the faith of Christians. Therefore, the Bible demands that I, through peaceable means, in meek resistance and active forbearance, filled with joy, resist all administrative policies and legal measures that oppress the church and interfere with the faith of Christians. 

I firmly believe this is a spiritual act of disobedience. In modern authoritarian regimes that persecute the church and oppose the gospel, spiritual disobedience is an inevitable part of the gospel movement.  

I firmly believe that spiritual disobedience is an act of the last times; it is a witness to God’s eternal kingdom and the temporal kingdom of sin and evil. Disobedient Christians follow the example of the crucified Christ by walking the path of the cross. Peaceful disobedience is the way in which we love the world as well as the way in which we avoid becoming part of the world. 

I firmly believe that in carrying out spiritual disobedience, the Bible demands me to rely on the grace and resurrection power of Christ, that I must respect and not overstep two boundaries. 

The first boundary is that of the heart. Love toward the soul, and not hatred toward the body, is the motivation of spiritual disobedience. Transformation of the soul, and not the changing of circumstances, is the aim of spiritual disobedience. At any time, if external oppression and violence rob me of inner peace and endurance, so that my heart begins to breed hatred and bitterness toward those who persecute the church and abuse Christians, then spiritual disobedience fails at that point. 

The second boundary is that of behavior. The gospel demands that disobedience of faith must be non-violent. The mystery of the gospel lies in actively suffering, even being willing to endure unrighteous punishment, as a substitute for physical resistance. Peaceful disobedience is the result of love and forgiveness. The cross means being willing to suffer when one does not have to suffer. For Christ had limitless ability to fight back, yet he endured all of the humility and hurt. The way that Christ resisted the world that resisted him was by extending an olive branch of peace on the cross to the world that crucified him.  

Chinese Pastor Wang Yi sentenced to 9 years in prison for ...

I firmly believe that Christ has called me to carry out this faithful disobedience through a life of service, under this regime that opposes the gospel and persecutes the church. This is the means by which I preach the gospel, and it is the mystery of the gospel which I preach.

The Lord’s servant,
Wang Yi 

First draft on September 21st, 2018; revised on October 4th. To be circulated by the church after 48 hours of detention. English translation provided by Amy, Brent Pinkall, and the China Partnership translation team.

Wang Yi
December 12, 2018, 

4 thoughts on “AT WHAT POINT DO WE DISOBEY THE GOVERNMENT?

  1. Brother Bert,

    What a glorious letter from this faithful servant of the cross. Regarding the situation not at hand in the U,S. (and elsewhere, UK for example), where we have government restricting religious gatherings to Facebook Live and YouTube, under the pretense “For your safety, and the safety of our community.,” how would you respond to the local church approach that now says:

    “We wish to respect the well intentioned laws of those who God has placed in authority over us, and the wishes of our neighbors in our community, who are genuinely terrified for their lives during these unique and challenging times”.

    Brother Bert, how do you resolve the obvious contrast between openly communist and indeed demonic intent of the CCP in China, and the “temporary health measures to slow the spread” from the local health departments in our “free” western democracies?

    These “measures” were welcomed (by many) originally under the pretense of “15-days to slow the spread”, but, at least in America, we have now missed almost ten weeks of the churches gathering together. No corporate worship. No corporate prayer. No corporate move of the Spirit.

    What in your opinion is the Holy Spirit saying about this, specifically regarding the fearful neighboring communities, which our churches strive to engage in love, yet whom themselves show no remorse whatsoever regarding this “new normal”, seemingly moving forward indefinitely now with no more “church”?

    Should we defer to the wishes of our neighbors’ “weak faith” and “be all things to all people, so as to win some of them”? Should we mirror their terrorized cowering behind locked doors and face masks, so as to not “offend” them or have our “faith be spoken evil of”?

    Of should we resist this devil for what it so speciously is, regardless of repercussions by the government, or neighboring our community?

    In other words: To love our neighbor as ourselves, do we close our churches in compliance to our neighbors’ wishes, or do we open them up in stark defiance of their restrictions?

  2. Interesting dilemma. I’m British and I can say that in English towns and cities there are surveillance cameras everywhere. We were in the street one time just handing out tracts and two security men appeared from nowhere and challenged my wife. Thank God they decided we were not peddling subversive material or preaching an Islamophobic message.

    We now evangelize in Ukraine, where thankfully, we are permitted to talk to people in the street about the gospel of Jesus Christ, (at the moment anyway). But I have to say that the key to successfully dodging the authorities and yet the same time not compromising the great commission is – the person of the Holy Spirit. We’ve had to pray in tongues a lot to gain two, three steps ahead of the devil. For example, the Lord said to us, “don’t go out in a large group but go out in twos, don’t stand on a box preaching, just mingle in the crowd and talk to people individually to those who are willing to listen.” So far we have never been stopped or arrested by the authorities and have managed to introduce Jesus to many people who are hungry for the truth. If we do see police, we just discreetly move somewhere else and continue the work. I reckon that’s not being cowardly or denying Jesus, but with a little wisdom and sanctified common sense its possible to continue unhindered.

    I know this may not even be possible in some countries. But my point is – work with the Holy Spirit, He can reveal avenues that we are unaware of.

    These are the last days – but we’ve got to get out and share the gospel.

    • Yes it’s an odd situation in which the Gospel is not outlawed per se, but rather churches have been closed nevertheless by “community safety” measures, and people are thus prevented from gathering together. It sounded plausible at first, when it was supposed to be temporary (“15-days..” at first). But now heading into the third month of closed churches, and with no end in sight, questions as to the spiritual validity of these “public safety measures” arise.

      I am reminded of Hitler’s Feb 28, public service announcement in 1933, which began: “For the Protection of People and State.,”

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