During my most recent trip conducting training sessions in Mainland China, the issue that was brought up most frequently was the disturbance from the Eastern Lightning Cult. How to face the challenge presented by this cult has become a very urgent concern.
Dirty Tricks of the Cult
For a while there was news that key church workers in various regions in China were kidnapped by the cult. Now as church workers have realized the cult's schemes and as the workers avoid going anywhere alone, similar kidnapping news is seldom heard. Instead, more news is heard of members of the cult showing up at house church meetings. They use various "dirty tricks" to subvert the meetings and to destroy the ministries of the churches, causing unrest among brothers and sisters.
The Chinese government has officially identified the Eastern Lightning as a cultic religion that should be wiped out. However, government officials cannot do anything to the cult members because what they do -- disturbing church meetings with insulting words and malicious deeds -- is not considered a criminal act. Plus, a lot of the cult members causing trouble are not local residents; once they leave it is hard to keep track of them. On top of that, house church meetings are considered illegal by the government, so it is hard for house churches to ask for protection from the government. Many brothers and sisters are silent about the cult attacks they are faced with in order to avoid having their ministries exposed to the government. And the cult members understand this, making them reckless in their attacks against the churches.
For years the Eastern Lightning has sent spies into different house churches. These spies study the dynamics of the workers in the church, find out their weaknesses, and exploit the divisions among believers and misconceptions about the truth. They then design their plots and traps to attack the churches based on the information they gather. Behind these spies are a group of schemers who are learned and know the Bible well. They send a group of thugs to carry out their plans. Even if a targeted worker does not fall into a set trap, the ministries of his church are unavoidably seriously affected. Sometimes I wonder why these schemers so faithfully work for the cult when they know the Bible so well. Why does the Word of God have no effect on them? Although I do not understand why these things happen, I do learn from the deeds of the cult what it means to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, and why those who commit this sin will not be forgiven in this life and beyond.
The Truth Distorted
After a few years of observation, the Eastern Lightning can grasp a comprehensive view of the situation of the house churches in various regions and the weaknesses of the workers and believers. Because of that, they will show up in front of brothers and sisters and try to bring them to their side through temptation and threats, without any fear that their cultic motives will be exposed. In the past the best way to expose a cult was to point out their mistakes and bring up their non-biblical teachings, that is to uncover the devil's plot so they cannot continue with their plans. But the Eastern Lightning cult is even more ruthless; they take advantage of the church workers' weaknesses to entrap them, then blackmail and control them. And if those who are trapped do not confess their own wrong doings, they will be used by the cult as pawns, defending the cultic teachings even though they are non-biblical. They even use these wrong teachings to justify themselves as sinless.
Many of these workers have followed the cult because they have limited understanding of the Truth. Some of them misinterpret the foundation of salvation and do not understand the real meaning of repentance. They have not truly repented from their sins, and yet assuming that they have secured eternal salvation, they continue to live according to the desires of their hearts. Other believers, under the influence of the Third Wave of the charismatic movement, claim that this is the age of the Holy Spirit, so believers have to do great things and speak of revelations outside of the Bible. As they try to free themselves from the guidelines of the Bible, they open the door for cult teachings. These believers incorrectly proclaim that in order to do greater things, they have to deviate more from the Bible to show how marvelous their work is. When a church stops following the Bible as the ultimate authority when faced with cult teachings, it is just as much a cult, in the sense that it is without the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)
Many house churches have reflected that when they send out brothers and sisters to minister at other places, Eastern Lightning members take the opportunity to send out their people to disturb their churches and try to destabilize the local ministries. To avoid that, many churches have reduced the number of non-local ministries they are involved in so that their workers can stay behind and guard against cult influence. But then the cult members will go out of town and target those new believers and try to take over new churches. This has created a big impact.
Back to the Scriptures
What can the church workers in Mainland China do when faced with all these attacks? I believe that those who are laboring for the Lord need not only to examine themselves frequently, but they also need to have a strong foundation in the Truth. Instead of having an unclear view, they need to have a systemic and comprehensive understanding of the Truth, and be able to apply it whenever it is needed. This requires them to spend time in studying the Bible and examine whether everything related to the church is biblical. When teaching the believers, solid Truth should be presented, instead of just leading them to sing and to dance. In fact, the Eastern Lightning is less active in churches with a more solid foundation of the Truth.
Let us take up the responsibility of prayer and ask God to bestow mercy and grace upon the young churches in Mainland China. These churches are unable to resist these cult attacks. May the Lord destroy all the schemes and plots of the Eastern Lightning. Looking back at the various cults that have raised up in China during all these years, which one of them is not taken down and destroyed by God Himself?