September - October 2000 The Sabbath Sentinel

The Seventh Day Sabbath Movement in China

by Paul Wong

The Chang-An Monument

It was in the year 1625; the Jesuits had infiltrated the fabric of the Chinese cultured classes, when a sensational discovery was made. A large monument stone inscribed with nineteen hundred Chinese characters, and fifty Syrian words, was unearthed just outside the walls of Chang-An, the ancient capital of the Tang Dynasty. The news of this discovery caused a bustle of excitement in the ancient metropolitan city, and thousands were anxious to know what information about their cultural heritage was hidden in the writing.

The Jesuits, who were regarded as the teachers and scholars, were immediately summoned to decipher the inscriptions. To the astonishment of these haughty priests, there before their eyes, was a description of the prestigious position, and vast extent of the seventh-day Sabbath-keeping Christian Church of the East of a millennia before!

The ancient Chinese characters were inscribed in 781 AD, at the command of Emperor Tae-Tsung, to honor the arrival of an Assyrian missionary and his companions to the capitol in the year 635 AD from Ta Tsin, or Judea. The stone revealed beliefs and practices of the primitive Christian church, which were unrelated and out of harmony with the Roman Catholic beliefs.

One of the passages reads: "On the Seventh Day we offer sacrifices after having purified our hearts, and received absolution from our sins. This religion, so perfect and so excellent, is difficult to name, but it enlightens darkness by its brilliant precepts."

In a state of shock, the Jesuits, and the Mandarins, a class of scholarly religious Chinese rulers, worked to alter the Chinese characters to reflect the Catholic doctrines, for if the expectant population were to learn what the stone really said, it would greatly damage their beliefs in the Catholic doctrines, and diminish the influence of the Mandarins.

But something very different from what was expected resulted. Today, after carefully comparing the known facts of history with an examination of the historical and doctrinal facts written on the stone, a fraud is obvious.

The Chang-An Monument, or the "speaking stone," as it is called, is considered to be as important a find as the Rosetta Stone, for it had the inscriptions in more than one language. The truth was preserved because the Jesuits were not able to read the inscription that was in Syrian.

"From the reading of the stone today, an irrefutable fact of history quickly becomes obvious-that ancient Sabbath-keeping Christianity had been very prominent and extensive throughout the Orient as late as the eighth and ninth centuries." Excerpt from Our Sabbath Heritage by James Arrabito.
(Web Site:
http://www.tagnet.org/llt/jimart.htm)

The Taiping Christians

In the year 1837 a brilliant 24 year old Chinese schoolteacher named Hong Xiuquan saw an extraordinary vision when he was recuperating from an illness. This vision was recorded by Theodore Hamberg, a missionary of the Basel Evangelical Society to China (a Swiss institution). In the vision Hong was seemingly transported to the presence of a Great Sovereign Ruler. There he was confronted by an old woman who said to him, "You dirty man, why have you kept company with those people and defiled yourself? I must now wash you clean." In the vision Hong was taken to a river and washed in the water. After this he was conducted into a large building where his heart and other inward parts were removed and replaced by new ones! Then he was given a sword, a seal, and to eat, fruit that he found sweet to his palate. Upon awakening, he was astounded at the vision, but could not determine its meaning. When Hong fully regained his health, he began to reform his conduct as best he knew.

He continued with his teaching profession for several years and gave no thought of his vision. Then one day his cousin Le searched through his bookcase and noted a set of books entitled Good Words for Exhorting the Age. In the books were many chapters, texts, sermons and essays on the Holy Bible. Hong had read the books many years previously but when he read them one more time he was amazed to find that the description of the texts gave him the partial explanation of his vision. He learned about the heavenly Father is the Great Sovereign Ruler in his vision and that Jesus was sent as the Savior. He read that he needed to repent of his sins and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:38) From the Bible he then understood the meaning of being washed by the water in the river and of having his heart and inward parts renewed. Hong and his cousin Le then baptized one another. They prayed to God, promised not to worship evil spirits and to cast away idols. Hong returned to south-central China where he preached the Lord Jesus Christ and baptized nearly 2,000 souls. They had formed "the congregations of the worshipers of God" and later became known as the "Taiping" Christians. Continuous study of the Bible convinced Hong that his people should not smoke tobacco or opium, a drug that the British were selling to the Chinese. They refrained from intoxicating drinks.

The Taipings also learned from the Bible that they should observe the Sabbath. It is amazing that although Monday is called Day One and Saturday is called Day Six by the Chinese, yet the Taipings were able to
recognize Saturday as the correct Seventh Day Sabbath. Lin-Le wrote in his book,Ti-Ping Tien-Kwoh

"Converts must kneel down in God's presence, and ask Him to forgive their sins. Following baptism they must continue daily to supplicate Divine favor, and the Holy Spirit's assistance to renew their hearts. They must say grace at every meal, observe the seventh day Sabbath and obey God's commandments, especially avoiding idolatry. They may then be accounted worthy to be called the children of God." (from Lin-le's book, page 315).

"The Taiping Christians were asked why they observed the seventh day Sabbath. They replied that it was, first, because the Bible taught it, and second, because their ancestors observed it as a day of worship." - A Critical History of the Sabbath and Sunday.

Due to their resolute stand for biblical truths, the Taipings were confronted by opposition on every side. The Manchurian dynasty regarded them as rebels and fought against them. In abolishing idols, the Taipings naturally destroyed the images of Mary and the saints as well as those of the Buddhists. The Jesuits became angry at them. They persuaded the French forces in China to support the ruling Manchus to crush them. Next, the British and American missionaries were jealous of the Taipings because barely 1,500 Chinese people had joined them whereas millions had joined the Taipings. The missionaries began a deliberate campaign against the Taipings. They accused them of rejecting the Bible, of denying Jesus Christ, and of slaughtering innocent victims. British commercial agents interested in selling opium to the Chinese, became concerned by the loss of revenue. There was an open military conflict between the Manchus and the Taipings. Hong sought help and assistance from foreign countries but, unfortunately, none came. In sorrow, he withdrew from all contact with foreigners, but continued to study the Bible with the faithful. Because of foreign intrigue, larger and superior Manchu army and religious persecution, most of these faithful Chinese Seventh Day Sabbath keepers, including Hong Xiuquan, perished in their struggle. Information from The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbath Keepers by Herman L. Hoeh.

Sabbath Movement in the True Jesus Church

The Sabbath Movement within the True Jesus Church is connected with the Pentecostal Movement. In September 1909, Lin-Shen Chang, a Presbyterian deacon in Shandong, went to the Apostolic Faith Mission in Shanghai to study the Bible and prayed for the baptism of the Holy Spirit through the "laying-on" of hands. After staying there for two weeks he did not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so he went home and continued with his quest for another two months. On the morning of December 21, 1909, he was baptized with the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues. God also revealed to him the importance of observing the Seventh Day Sabbath. He discussed the observance of the Sabbath with Pastor Henderson, an American missionary from the Apostolic Faith Mission. In July 1916, Pastor Henderson also began to observe the Sabbath. Later Pastor Henderson joined the Assembly of God and reverted to worship on Sunday.

Paul Wei was originally a member of the London Mission in Beijing. He had a serious illness that no doctor or medicine could heal. He went to the Apostolic Faith Mission. Through prayer and laying-on of hands he was healed. One day, while he was praying at home, he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues. He sold his fabric store and started a house church. The Holy Spirit impressed upon him to fast for 39 days. While fasting Paul Wei received the revelation of the baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ with head bowed in the living water. He began to preach using the name "International Reformed Jesus True Church". In 1917, the Holy Spirit inspired the name to be changed to the True Jesus Church. The word "True" represents God; Jesus is the mediator between God and man. The church is subject to Jesus and God.

In the Spring of 1918, Lin-Shen Chang went to the True Jesus Church in Tiensin to meet Paul Wei. Among other subjects they discussed the observance of the Seventh Day Sabbath. Paul Wei agreed to keep the Sabbath and from that time onwards the Seventh Day Sabbath became one of the cardinal tenets of faith in the True Jesus Church.

Paul Wong is a minister of the True Jesus Church in Houston. His ministry, ARK International, also serves as an architectural service company in Houston, Texas. The ARK Forum on the Internet is international and nondenominational. Web Site: http://www.geocities.com/ark_pw. E-mail: ark@pdq.net. Readers wishing to contact ARK International may write to: P.O. Box 19707, Houston, Texas, 77224-9707, U.S.A.

TSS

September - October 2000 The Sabbath Sentinel