Misguided Identity Fraud

If there is one thing people fear, it is identity fraud and theft. Even here in China, identity theft is very real. There have been stories where one student will steal another high school kid’s identity and entrance exam scores. The thief then uses the stolen identity to go to a good college while the other is left behind. However, a person stealing our information is not the only kind of identity theft. It is often something we do every day of our lives – taking and replacing our own identity in Christ.

Identity in Christ is the most foundational doctrine to victoriously living out the Christian life. Understanding who we are and our position in Christ helps us deal with all the issues we face in life as well as helping us understand and defeat sin in our lives. But it is also the doctrine that we continually work to or try to replace in how we live.


Identity thieves aren’t the only ones looking for identity

The truth is, we all look for identity in something – our careers, our status as parents, our homes, our families or millions of other things. All of which usurp the rightful status of being a child of God and all the blessings that come with it. We too often seek identity in everything but Christ. This is not just true of all believers, including those in full-time ministry.

The disciples who were constantly with Jesus even had this problem. We read how they argued multiple times about who was the greatest. Although the Bible authors did not record the conversation, we can imagine they compared their accolades, how long they had been with Jesus, who had spent the most time with Jesus and so on. I have learned more and more that just as these disciples argued about who was the greatest, even now, we ministers of the Gospel do the same.

We all try to be the greatest. It may not be that we argue amongst ourselves about this, but we do in our minds. We compare how much we have done compared to others. We check off how we accomplish more for Jesus than others or how God uses us more than others. And in all of this, we lose our true identity. We think that our service to God makes us more valuable to Him and gives us more worth.

Christ must be our identity

The truth is that according to God, we all have equal status. He has equally made us His children, and equally, have been blessed with all spiritual blessings. Our service to Him, first of all, is not our abilities but Him working through us, and secondly, does not make God love us more than someone who we perceive has not accomplished as much as us.

We must have our identity rooted and grounded in the One who has saved us and used us. God gives us our worth, it is not in ourselves. Let’s not defraud ourselves in seeking our identity in lesser things, things which include ministry.

Sunday Wrap-Up: First Bible Study in Shanghai!

  • Had our first Bible study in our home!
  • We had 11 people, double digits!
  • We had a couple from the church in Dalian who were visiting in Shanghai come and bring two people.
  • The others were members out of a church up in Harbin led by a Chinese pastor friend of ours.
  • They moved here for work.
  • It was a great time to evaluate what to do and not do.
  • I think any more people and we may need to look for somewhere temporary.
  • One of the people who came was a young man named Damon, he si an Uyghur (Wee-Gur)
  • That is a Muslim minority in western China
  • We are excited about what God is going to do here in Shanghai
  • Now that our house here is all setup and done, we can get back to normal…ish.
  • We met with our daughter’s doctors this week in order to get a better idea of therapy and such
  • We should be starting that within the next couple weeks.
  • I will be studying material to pass the HSK test. This is a Chinese ability test.
  • I hope to take it this coming semester
  • I will also continue working on preparing for our Bible study
  • We are going through the Bible starting in Genesis showing Jesus in the major stories
  • From 1990 to 2010, Shanghai’s population nearly doubled!
  • I found this article about persecution in China very interesting

How to Become a Christian According to a Registered Church (Part 3)

We have already seen part one, pray the decision prayer and part 2, receive baptism. But now we come to the third part of how to become a Christian according to a registered church.

Follow the Bible’s teaching on life and become a true Christian

By following the Bible’s standards on saying the “decision prayer” and receiving baptism, you are only a nominal Christian. You must also complete the third step. Only after this step can you be a true Christian. This last step is called “Following the Bible’s teaching on living life”

After we become a Christian, most of our old life and our life after we became a Christian is very different. Because of this difference, the Bible calls our life after we believe in Jesus a “new life in Jesus”. After we become a Christian, if we want to live out this new life, we must do what God says in the Bible and not what we ourselves want to do.

For example, the Bible emphasizes that the Christian life is a communal life and not an isolated one. From the very beginning, Christians have lived life together as a community, and this community is called a “church”. Because of this, a “Christian life” can be called a “church life”. A church life is the life pattern that the Bible teaches. This pattern of life includes: reading the Bible, praying, participating in Sunday worship, interacting with other Christians, participating in church work, giving offerings, etc. Furthermore, by actively participating in church work, it can help you be more devout and receive God’s blessings.

In other words, believers not only need to finish the first two steps but also follow the Bible’s teaching in order to be a believer with a new life. If a person has been baptized but does not want to pray, read the Bible, this person could barely be a nominal Christian or not a true Christian. Although they say they have prayed the Decision prayer and received baptism. These two steps are only the beginning of receiving God’s blessing; The process of wanting to become a Christian is not relying on a few minutes of ceremonies but an entire life lived in faith. To be in this process is none other than the whole person (all aspects of life) investing in the Christian faith. By doing this, our life will be unceasingly changed by God into something newer. This is because the new life in Christ will come out.

Therefore, although many have prayed the decision prayer and received baptism but they do not follow the Bible’s teaching on life, this kind of person will only have Christ’s name but not Christ’s life. On the other hand, if a person has prayed the decision prayed and follows the Bible’s teaching on life, but they have not received baptism, according to Scripture, this person cannot be a real Christian. The Bible says we must be Christian in both name and practice. Because of this, only those who have completed these three steps can truly be called a Christian, have a new identity and possesses a new life in Christ.

How to Become a Christian According to a Registered Church (Part 2 of 3)

According to the last post, the first step according to a registered church to become a Christian is to pray the “Decision Prayer”. As I previously stated, this first step sounds much like what you would read on many Gospel tracts. Although you could hope it to be clearer than it is in a Gospel presentation, the point of what the church put out was not just the first step but all three steps.

Here is the second step of how to become a Christian according to a registered church:

Participate in “Baptism Ceremony” to become a Christian

After you finish the “Decision Prayer” step, you need to do the second step which is to receive baptism. Although the Bible records that if we with our mouth recognize Jesus is the Lord of our life, and in our heart believe God raised him from the dead; we certainly can obtain Jesus’ salvation, but the Bible also emphasizes we must receive baptism. It is only after that we are officially a true Christian.

Generally speaking, baptism is usually held at a church. Because of this, if you want to be baptized, you only need to go to a church close to you then tell the pastor or church leadership that you wish to be baptized. They will then help you prepare for the baptism ceremony. But if you have any special circumstances, (sick, incarcerated, etc) baptism can be performed outside the church because it does not matter where you are baptized. (Hospital, prison, in a home, etc) But it is only after the baptism will you be officially a Christian. From the moment you are baptized, your life will be changed and Jesus will be with you. God will gradually get rid of the old life and the light will enter your new life, and help your life more look like Jesus.

How To Become a Christian According to a Registered Church (Part 1 of 3)

According to The Chinese Constitution, a Chinese person has freedom of religion. However, this freedom is limited to five religions: Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, and Protestantism. Not only are the choices limited, where they can worship is limited as well. China has what is called the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (read about them here) – these are registered, state-run and state-approved churches. Some would ask why not work inside the framework of these churches. It is being done and it seems foreigners are allowed to teach in some capacity. So why not?

Apart from the ecclesiastical issues ( the church is state controlled, often led by women), there are also serious doctrinal issues as well. Just recently, a registered church in our city put out a short post on how to become a Christian. There are three parts to this post and although the first step is not necessarily terrible, it is similar to what you would find on many Gospel tracts,  it is the second two parts which contain serious doctrinal error. Below, I have translated it for you:

Through “Decision Prayer” make it clear to God that you wish to become a Christian.

The most important step in wanting to become a Christian is to pray tell God that you want to become one. Christians call this prayer “Decision Prayer”. This prayer’s meaning is that you already have decided you want to be a Christian. The content of this “Decision Prayer” should include:

  1. Admit that in front of a holy God, you are a sinner. Ask God if he will forgive all of our sins because we don’t know all the sins we have sinned against God. (For example: being away from God, not worshiping him as the one true God, lie, covet, selfish, etc.)
  2. Say that you want to repent towards God, become a Christian and believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins as a sacrifice. It is by believing in Jesus that our sins are placed on Him so they can be forgiven. You must also believe that Jesus was raised by the power of God.
  3.  Express that you want Jesus to come into your life and have him come to be your Savior (God who Saves). Tell God that, because you believe in Jesus, you want Him to make you into a righteous person and make you into his child. By doing this, you receive God’s blessings and obtain eternal life.

A clear “Decision Prayer” is spoken in faith by believing in Jesus’ name. (Because Jesus instructed us: when a man prays to God, we must ask in faith by Jesus’ name) By doing this, God will hear this prayer. Furthermore, when the prayer is finished, we usually say “amen”, this expresses that we are praying from a sincere heart.

Almost all who have decided to believe in Jesus or pray this “Decision Prayer”,  followed someone who spoke this prayer or read some church’s printed materials, books or web page. They then prayed this prayer out of a sincere heart. (Prayer is words spoken to an omnipresent God, coming out of a sincere heart speaking truth. Because of this, no matter where we pray, God can hear. Furthermore, although outwardly we follow another person, books or a website’s written prayer,  only what is needed is a sincere heart in front of God.)

Below provides you a “Decision Prayer”; this prayer is in accordance with both the Bible and the church.

If you wish to become a Christian, you can use a sincere heart and pray the “Decision Prayer” below. When you finish praying, you have completed the first and most important step. From that time forward, your sins will all be forgiven, and in front of God, you are a righteous person. Finally, because you believe in Jesus, you become God’s child and can receive His blessings.

“Decision Prayer”

Beloved God, I recognize before you I am a sinner. I now want to repent towards you and become a Christian. I wish to believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and because of my belief in Jesus, have all my sins be forgiven. I also believe that Jesus rose again by your power on the third day after his death. I now wish to have Jesus enter my life, and allow Jesus to be the savior of my life so I can before you be a righteous person, can be called your child, can obtain your peace and blessings, and can obtain eternal life. Thank you for hearing my prayer. I now before you pray, leaning in faith on Jesus’ holy name ask. Amen.