In recent years, by God's grace, the author has had the opportunity to minister to many Chinese churches in the East and in the West. Through these interactions, a nagging feeling developed. The Chinese churches are either wet behind the ears or are over the hill. They either lack substance in their proclamation or strength in their endeavors for the Lord! Other than a few admirable young churches, most of them lack "prenatal care" or "after-birth nutrition". Some 'terminal case" churches are so ill spiritually that they can hardly "shuffle their feet'. They live in a dreamworld, thinking wishfully that "there is no progress this year; but neither is there regress!" What they do not know is that, spiritual service is like a salmon swimming up the river; if it is not advancing, it has already retreated.
As a servant of God, when I noticed the church of the Lord was in such weakness, I was feeling anxious. Consequently, ten years ago, by observation, interview and research, the author started to find out what is blocking the spiritual progress in Chinese churches. Some direct and indirect causes were uncovered. Three prominent direct causes are: (1) too superficial an understanding of the truth; (2) salvation without the hope of glory; and (3) not walking with God in daily lives. The author's previous book The Secret of Church Growth (published by the CES in Chinese and FCBC in English) was written to address the problem of "not walking with God in daily lives'', while this book, What is the Kingdom of Heaven in the Bible-The Truth of the Kingdom, is written to address the problem of ''salvation without the hope of glory". "May the God of hope (through this message)...that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!" (Rom.15:13).
It is recorded in the Scriptures: "But now abide faith,hope and love..." There is a certain order. First, there is faith, second there is hope and finally there is love. (Once you know this order, you are not far from the truth!) As we look at the churches today, some of them do not even have ''faith," let alone 'hope" or "love"! These churches think that to believe in Jesus is to get baptized, to go to church on Sundays, to do good works, to strive to live a good life and then hope to go to heaven! Little do they realize that this kind of "belief in Jesus'' is a product of the Roman Catholic Church after it was infected by paganism! This is not the Scriptural teaching of "to believe in Jesus''! Unfortunately, although the Reformation did cause the abandonment of many superstitious and non-biblical evil practices of the Roman Catholic Church, not a small number of wrong conceptions were unknowingly brought into the Protestant churches. These conceptions have caused great losses to the churches today! May the new generation of Chinese Christians in the 21st century be determined not to stick to old bad habits but to imitate the Bereans, to exert a renewed effort in "examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so"!
Despite the fact that only a minority enter by the narrow gate, among the new generation of Chinese, whether local or abroad, because of His abundant grace and love, God has opened many hearts and many have received Jesus into their hearts. Now that they have God's life, they have come to know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent. "And this is eternal life!" Unfortunately, very few among them know for sure what their hope is. Some would even say that their hope is barely to go to heaven! If this were the fact, then we are no different from Buddhists who desire to go to Nirvana or Moslems who want to go to Paradise. Thank God, the fundamental reason for our believing in Jesus is not to hope to go to heaven. Rather, it is to receive God's life instantly. When we have God's life, we have the position of ''God's children". As God's children, His home is our home. You can go home at anytime and no one can prevent you from doing that! Therefore, to believe in Jesus is not for the purpose of hoping to go to heaven after you die. The moment you believe, heaven is yours. So are God's life and the abundant life. There is no need to wait. Praise the Lord!
What then is "hope"? This book will suggest the answer to the readers. May the readers pray that as they read this book, they may be able to find out how abundant and glorious is the hope He wants to grant you. Amen.