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 (Manna 84: TJC at 100 – The Grace That Has Brought Us Here)
Revive The True Church (Part 1)
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Adapted from sermons by Barnabas Chong, Singapore

The ascension of Jesus, when He bid farewell to His disciples, was a pivotal moment in the history of the church. It was at this point that He charged His followers to spread the gospel to the world; but He also told them to first wait in Jerusalem to receive power from on high. Sure enough, when Pentecost arrived, so too did the downpour of the Holy Spirit to establish Christs church on earth.

This glorious event marked a period of great faithfulness for the disciples, who were led and empowered by the Spirit. But what began as a perfect church would shortly enter into decline. We can trace this from the subtle rebellion of certain wicked men in the early apostolic church, to the audacious alterationseven outright reversalsmade by the Catholic church. The Protestant movement, ignited by Martin Luthers call for restoration of the true faith, was a noble but misguided endeavor, which finally led to the chaotic profusion of Christian doctrines and denominations which we find today. From this history of the church, we can see mans ingenuity and irresponsibility towards the doctrines he received from God. There came a time when a revival was neededto revive the true church on earth.

The True Jesus Church is the product of this revival. Far from tailoring our doctrines to pander to the political and social demands of our age, the gospel we preach is the very same gospel Jesus handed to His disciplesthe very truths found in the pages of the Holy Bible. As the apostolic church was, so we are. This is why the True Jesus Church can be seen as the revived apostolic churchchurch that preserves and protects the imparted, not invented, truth of Christ.

The True Jesus Church is part of a long line of miraculous interventions by God to call His beloved elect back to Him. From Gods compassionate warning to Noah of the impending flood, to His loving covenant with Abraham to give him children and to forever protect them, God continually shows that no matter how many turn away from Him, He never turns away from us.

Today, True Jesus Church members live in a world quite similar to the one Noah and Abraham lived in. Most people do not believe in the Christian God, and of the ones who do, many, wittingly or unwittingly, do not obey the full truth of the saving gospel. But if we are to be the Noahs and Abrahams of our age, if we are to be the revived apostolic church, then there must be no doubt as to what exactly we are reviving.

But where should we begin?

REVIVE OUR PASSION FOR THE WORD OF GOD

The apostle Paul writes, in Ephesians 2:20, that the household of God has been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.

So far so good. But what exactly is the foundation of the apostles and prophets?

In the following chapter, Paul explains that he gained an understanding of the mystery of Christ through the revelation of the Holy Spirit (Eph 3:2V5). The mystery that was previously unknown to manthat the Gentiles would be fellow heirs of Christs promiseand the complete understanding of the salvation gospel was revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets (Eph 3:5). This is the foundation upon which the church is builtthe revelation and word of God, as recorded by the apostles in the New Testament writings.

The rightful church of God must be founded on the living word of God. The True Jesus Church has never changed in this respect. The histories of both the apostolic church and the True Jesus Church are fraught with painful episodes of doctrinal disputes, hostile quarrels, and even breakaway groups. Yet, through it all, the gospel has emerged unscathed. Why? Because we knew the fundamental importance of the word of Godthat everything we do must be based upon it. Today, do we still hold the Gods word with the same respect?

Broadly speaking, there seems to be three kinds of people. We have, of course, the earnest Bible reader. Attending every Bible study, listening attentively to every sermon and taking notes, this believer understands the immense grace he has received from God, and treats the gospel with the same reverence that the apostles had.

Then we have the adversary. Plainly put, he is against most, if not all, of the churchs doctrines, and willfully opposes the truth we preach. Neither open to dialogue nor serious about actually learning more, there is little to be done for such a man. But he is not the main concern here.

The greater tragedy is the fate of the confused but complacent Christian. Here we have the well-intentioned believer who, from time to time, harbors a little doubt regarding a particular teaching. Sincere though he may be in faith, he is certainly not steadfast. This believers complacency leads him to deflect any questions he may receive from non-believing friends with glib, unreflective answers, or to simply direct them to the nearest church minister.

Worse still is not how poorly this believer evangelizes, if he does at all, but how unanswered doubts and shallow faith leave him vulnerable to being misled. More than two thousand years after the establishment of Christianity, the Christian world is saturated with an abundance of different opinions, interpretations, translations and traditions. And everyone claims to be right. In this barrage of information, the half-hearted believer whose knowledge of the gospel consists only of my preacher says so and the odd Bible verse is in danger of falling for the convincing allure of false teachings.

There is a misconception that being familiar with the word of God is only so we can hold our own against the arguments of other Christians and non-believers. But the more important reason is that we have to know why we believe in what we believe. This is because the convictions we are most confident in are the ones that will influence our lives. As sincere as a Christian may be, if he knows only the how of salvationthe rites, the sacraments, the habitsbut not the why, then he can never truly experience the fullness of his faith. He must see the word of God not so much as a set of doctrines, but as a guide to living a meaningful life that pleases Godonly then will the word of God be alive within him.

The apostles took the word of God so seriously that they willingly laid down their lives for it; they lived, and died, for the gospel. What about us?

REVIVE OUR ATTITUDE OF FOLLOWING THE HOLY SPIRIT

Be filled with the Holy Spirit is an expression commonly heard in the True Jesus Church. But what does it actually mean, and why should we care?

One of the things that stands out in the Book of Acts is how frequently the Holy Spirit is mentioned. The Book of Acts is the definitive account of how the early church grew, and the men and women who were instrumental in this growth. Yet, reading the book, one cannot help but get the impression that these men and womenthough crucial in their roleswere not the main characters. In fact, there was only one true protagonist: the Holy Spirit. Acts 15:28 reads: For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things (emphasis added). These words are striking, for they convey an intimacy the apostles shared with the Holy Spirit that is almost unthinkable today. Rarely do we hear: The Holy Spirit, together with us, has chosen to make this decision or, I chose to do this or that because of the Holy Spirits advice. But throughout the Book of Acts, we see how the Holy Spirit guides and transports Philip, instructs Peter, and protects Paul from danger. Behind the scenes, but also very much right in the middle of the action, we see the Holy Spirit actively helping Gods workers to accomplish their missions.

So why does this seem odd today? Primarily, because of a decline in our attitude towards the Holy Spirit. Nowadays, we mainly speak of the Holy Spirit as a spiritual milestone. Receiving the Holy Spirit has become merely a goal in the great game of our faith, and once we have achieved this, we quickly move on and forget about it. The Holy Spirit has also become a crutch to rely on when we need to comfort others. It is easy to repeat clichés about the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit in times of distress, but how many of us actually know how the Holy Spirit comforts and guides, or what it feels like?

The first revival in our attitude towards the Holy Spirit has to be the role we believe the Holy Spirit plays in Gods salvation plan. Yes, He is a guarantee of our salvation, a Rock, and a Counsellor. But He is not simply our backup plan in times of crisis. Instead, we have to rely on Him as an everyday partner with whom we can consult on even the littlest things.

Secondly, we need to rely once more on the Holy Spirit as our guide to the truth. The spirit of error of which the elder John forewarned (1 Jn 4) can only be resisted by the guidance of the Spirit of truth. Often, many of us who have received the Holy Spirit may read the Bible without consciously relying on the Holy Spirit to help us discern and understand the truth. Our worship and study become strictly rote, mechanical, uninspired. This is no way to develop our faith, and may lead to spiritual boredom and stagnationripe grounds for temptation to lure us away from the truth. It remains crucial that we involve the Holy Spirit in our growth in faith, remembering that the Holy Spirit not only dwells in the church, but is an ever-present Companion we must rely on.

One way to cultivate such an attitude is to be mindful of our spirit when we pray. The apostolic church greatly esteemed prayers. Their prayerfulness was a constant reminder for them of the powerful God, who was behind them every step of the way, and the strength they could receive as long as they continued to trust Him.

Ephesians 5:18 reads: And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. Paul is doing more than cautioning us about the dangers of drunkenness; he is asking us to think about what other vices and habits we have that might be distracting us from focusing on the voice of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirits voice is strong and clear, but we must be willing to listen to it, or risk it being drowned out by the cacophony of the worlds distractions. One thing is certain, if we yield our whole spirits to the counsel of the living Spirit within us, we no longer need to fear the dangers of this world.

REVIVE OUR DESIRE TO COMPLETE OUR COMMISSION

            Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mk 16:15)

These words are all too familiar to every Christian. What often escapes our attention, however, is how the disciples of Jesus responded to His grand commissionthey went out and preached everywhere (Mk 16:20).

The disciples were ready to dedicate their lives to the gospel because they knew that theirs was the only gospel of salvation. From a humble band of 120, the early followers of Jesus quickly increased to number in the thousands because they knew that the fate of so many souls rested on their shoulders. The apostles understood the immense responsibility given to them. There was only one plan for salvation, and God had entrusted the task of bringing it to the world into their hands. If they did not preach this gospel, who else would?

So, what about us? Perhaps the size of the True Jesus Church has lulled us into the comforting thought that there will always be someone else to do the work of preaching. Surely that is what the preachers are employed to do? Surely there are members more qualified than I? It is easy to make such excuses. Some of us allow pastoral work, or the work of organizing and planning, to justify our lackluster evangelistic efforts. I don't have a gift for preaching, we tell others and, often, ourselves. This is nonsense. Jesus did not tell the eloquent, the confident, or the charismatic to preach. He told the Christian, the believer, the child of God to preach. Sharing the grace of God requires not charisma, but conviction. As Mordecai counselled Esther, there will always be others to do Gods work and fulfill His will, but to serve God is our privilege, our opportunity, and we must seize it when given.

IN SUMMARY

The True Jesus Church is the revived apostolic church. Our Spirit is of God, our truth is from Him, and His grace is evident in our lives and our ministry, day after day. But we need to live up to our status as the revived apostolic church too. This is hard workit requires a revival in our attitudes towards the basic aspects of our faith, aspects we might have grown too comfortable with. We need this revival not because the church is dead, far from it. We need this revival because the more spiritually alive the members are, the more powerfully the Spirit of God will fill and lead His church to complete her mission. Let us live more fully for God than we ever have before.

To be continued.

 

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Author: Barnabas Chong
Publisher: True Jesus Church
Date: 12/08/2017
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