Abstain From All Appearances of Witness?

This is a response to the email from the Billy Graham Association, concerning Franklin Graham’s admonition for American Christians to abstain from offending China’s laws concerning proselytizing for the cause of the gospel during the summer Olympics in August ’08.  The contents of the original email are in BOLD BLACK TYPE.

The response to a post from PastorRandy@blogspot, who was gracious enough to post the email defending Brother Graham’s comments. Thanks Brother Randy for making this email available.

From Pastor Randy’s blog….. 

Comments concerning the post ‘A House Divided’ This post is concerned that Graham is associating with the State Church of China in his meetings there.

It is not about the ‘LAW OF THE LAND’. It is more about a prevailing  spirit that we see thriving in the Church in America, and that a spirit of compromise and devoid of commitment for her Lord. Brother Graham’s argument, at least at face value, appears to be a formidable defense for such a stand, but does not have a biblical foundation that endures when the storms rage against a believers testimony.

Please take the time to consider this testimony- John & Betty Stam.


A Response from the Billy Graham Association

I received this very kind and gracious email response from the Billy Graham Association on Franklin Graham’s comments,
Franklin Graham was recently quoted in the press as saying that he was not in favor of Christian groups illegally proselytizing during the Olympic Games later this year, stating, “I would not support any illegal activity at all.”While there is some valid disagreement over how to approach preaching the Gospel in China, with well-meaning Christian groups and ministers using different strategies, the BGEA believes that ideally, and in the long run, “it is best to follow the laws of the land.”

We see in the book of Acts (Acts 5:29) that the disciples were given clear instructions to breach the law of man by the angel of the Lord in order to further the cause of the gospel. To which Peter responded to the council ‘the law’ “it is better to obey God rather than man.”

The tribulation did not take Peter and the other disciples by surprise as when Christ sent them into the world with the message of the kingdom, He imparted these very words of encouragement….

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.” Matt.10:16-18

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. John 15:18-19

No where do we find Christ exhorting the believer NOT to disobey ‘the law’, except of course as a murderer, thief, evil doer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters, but to manifest His love in so doing.

So when we find the believers in the church at Smyrna being cast into prison, tried and suffering tribulation, we can almost rest assured that it was ‘the law’ that wrought such unjust condemnation against the body of Christ.

It is this same unjust condemnation that we see against the underground church in China. As long as a church succumbs to the Three Self Patriot Movement (the state church) they receive a peaceful religious pass of sorts. But with the underground church we see them in the midst of a fiery trial because they have chosen rather to be obedient to God than man.

Now I would never pretend to fully understand the oppression that is taking place in China, but rest assured those that are in the midst of persecution and those that faithfully undergird our brothers and sisters in the midst of this fire will tell you that the religious attack is vehemently coming from the state church; not at all unlike the opposition we saw against our Lord and His followers as they spread His gospel.

There is a serious disconnect for the church in America. We have become so apathetic for the cause of the gospel that God is allowing all of our Christian freedoms to be removed form our society. It’s not that we don’t fund the movement, but if it were left up to us to go ye into all the world and preach the gospel, even in the face of adversity, we would wait for an opportunity.

While the church sits by idly trying to understand what is happening, we must admit, that for the most part, the church is wallowing in a passive yet ignorant spirit as to what is really taking place. And those of us who see it are so lazy that we are not waging spiritual warfare (prayer) to tap in to the power of God to turn the tide. The frog is being boiled to death and he doesn’t even realize it is happening.

So really the problem is not obedience to ‘the law’ it is apathy and deception. We feel like the enemy can be won peacefully. I think that if we saw the church in America stand upon the unadulterated word of God, we would see the enemy loosing ground, to which he would vehemently reek in persecution. If the church is willing to sit by and bath itself in the comforts of vain religion, the enemy of the cross will sit there and smile… ask the church at Laodecia.

By working with in the framework of the laws of China, Franklin was able to reach out to more than 423,000 in Hong Kong last year, with more than 33,000 placing their faith in Jesus Christ. Similarly, during his current trip in China, Franklin was able to preach the Gospel message to 12,000 .”people in China’s largest church.

I remember the testimony of a man that spoke but before a tiny crowd of maybe 20-25 believers. Not in a large and ornate church but meeting in an isolated location under the cover of night in sub-freezing temperatures. Each member bring pages from God’s word because they do not have complete text. How precious is His word to these committed believers.

If the police how run across this assembly they would have been in jeopardy of beating, jail or loosing everything they possessed. This must not have been the case with the church Brother Graham preached at? If not, I wonder what the difference would be?

What we have in these words of justification is evidence of how cloudy spiritual discernment in Christian circles in America. The church in America feel that a church’s success in measured in numbers, attendance, number of conversion, baptisms, financial giving, etc….

We ought to be concerned that this is a vulnerable area for the church; an area of great deception. The church in America hangs it religious hat way to heavy upon the numbers as seeming evidence of success.

When the word of God measures success, it speaks of endurance. Once again let’s consider Smyrna…

“be thou faithful unto death, and I will give the the crown of life.”

The underground church in China is a mirror of the church in Smyrna, not the state church Three Self Patriot Movement, but the underground church.

The underground church in China is immersed in the persecution that Christ warned His disciples would follow when their witness was true to His word; not the state church Three Self Patriot Movement. It not about numbers, it’s about commitment, and that to the Living Word.

“It is amazing the distance some Christians go to seek persecution and all so unnecessary.  Draw a little nearer to Calvary, and persecution will seek you.  The world still hates the man who hates his sin.”          -A.W. Tozer

It is also our prayer that this will open up additional opportunities to tell the people of China about Jesus Christ. As the Beijing Olympics approach, Franklin Graham encourages Christian groups that want to do ministry at that time to be sensitive and respectful to the local church and the impact we as outsiders could have on them. For anyone who wants to review the current laws of China regarding religious activity this information is available at www.billygraham.org.

If we would consider the furtherance of the gospel as it spread across Asia Minor, those carrying the gospel did not sit around and wait for an opportunity to share the gospel, they aggressively pursued under the direction of the Spirit of God. When religion works, it waits for the opportunity, when the Spirit of God works, He is aggressively seeking to save those that are lost; even when it is contrary to ‘the law’.

Thanks again for your e-mail. We hope this answer has been helpful. Please contact us with any further questions. It is our pleasure to assist you.

Thanks once again Brother Randy for posting the email from The Billy Graham Assoc.



  1. I wonder how productive it is to preach the gospel and then get put in jail. No one can hear you then. You might be there a long time. Aren’t we also to be wise as serpents? This would include how to share the gospel effectively, avoiding as many unnecessary problems as possible. Maybe a more subtle way, that keeps one in public longer


  2. Hello marianne. I took the liberty of answering some of your questions. Please prayerfully consider.

    marianne-I wonder how productive it is to preach the gospel and then get put in jail?

    It can be very productive marianne. We see that in Acts 5 the apostles were cast into prison because they could not contain the gospel. The preaching of the gospel cost them a night in jail. With regard to the ‘productivity’ came for those who opposed the gospel.

    Those who opposed the preaching of the gospel found that they could not lock (shut) it up, for God sent His angel to set them free to go and espouse the doctrine that He had called them to, and they went and preached. Bonds and persecution fuels the gospel when the believer’s heart is set upon their faithful Lord.

    Again in the 16th chapter of Acts Paul and Silas were cast into prison in Philippi and at midnight while singing and praising God, the prison doors were opened and everyone’s bands were loosed, but it was not deliverance from prison that was sought, but the jailer from his sin.

    That is the reason that Paul and Silas were there… ‘productivity’? Very productive, not only the jailer, but his entire house.

    marianne-No one can hear you then.

    Quite the contrary marianne, check out the testimony of Richard Wurmbrand.. free copy of ‘Tortured for Christ’


    Brother Richard was imprisoned in Romania for 14 years. This book is a powerful testimony of how God used this man and his season in prison to convert a many a lost souls. Even his own son.. Probably one of the most powerful books that a believer might read second only to His precious word.

    marianne-might be there a long time.

    Might be, but God is sovereign. God will never waste light or His believers testimony, if we are not afraid to allow Him to do with us as He pleases.

    Thanks for reading and commenting marianne.

    Peace malachi

  3. I was more thinking about being put in jail, and not allowed to share any testimony form inside, and then dying before you can share the gospel.

  4. Anywhere God allows us to go, there will be an opportunity to witness for Him… He is sovereign. Remember marianne, man did not take His life, He laid it down!

    Please check out the FREE book ‘Tortured for Christ’ it is completely free….you will find the most amazing story of how a man witnessed for Christ even will in solitary confinement. God is God and His word is true. The question is will we be willing to go where it carries us?


  5. God bless you

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