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 (Manna 84: TJC at 100 – The Grace That Has Brought Us Here)
Complete The Construction Of The True Church (Part 1)
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Aun Quek Chin—Singapore

TWO TYPES OF FOUNDATIONS

Jesus once told a parable of a wise man and a foolish man, each building his own house. The wise man built his house with its foundation on the rock, so even when the storms raged, his house stood firm as a testament to his wisdom and the sturdiness of the rock. The foolish man, on the other hand, built his house on the sand. When the storms came, his house shook and collapsed, and great was its fall. In His parable, Jesus used the metaphor of building a house to illustrate the importance of a life built on His words and authority. If we extend the metaphor to the building of Gods house—the church—the principle remains the same. We should emulate the wise man by building the church on the rock that stands firm in the face of the wind and waves.

Within this context, the parable focuses on how to build, and the conditions under which we build up, the true church of God. To embark on this task, we should first ask ourselves, Do we believe that the construction of the church can ever be completed, and the church be perfect? Inevitably, the church will face internal and external difficulties along the way, and these will challenge our efforts in the construction of the church.

If we consider the progress of the current works undertaken by the church, we may feel discouraged. Our evangelistic efforts seem to have plateaued, and we face various challenges in pioneering areas. On the pastoral front, although most members have not deviated from the truth, they do not always enjoy attending services or listening to the word of Godthe very foundation upon which we are to be built.

Despite all this, can we be like the wise man and continue building Gods house on the rock? Can we persist in upholding the principles with which He began?

The storms will come and go, but Gods church will remain standing amid the squalls. Throughout the last one hundred years of our church history, we have weathered many storms. Yet we have seen the consistent guidance of God in His church. Let us learn from three of our past storms.

THE FIRST STORM: STRUGGLE AMONG EARLY WORKERS

Among our early workers, a man named Barnabas Chang claimed he was the founder of the True Jesus Church. He even established his own general assembly in Nanjing, China, creating a division between the churches in northern and southern China. This storm raged for seven years, from 1924 to 1931, before the churches in China started to reconcile with one another.

Let us not be surprised that the true church established by the Holy Spirit faced such a turbulent storm, because even the apostolic church was not spared. The apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for showing partiality and dividing the church members. The elder John likewise mentioned Diotrephes, who loved to have preeminence among the members of the church (3 Jn 9).

Hence, we see that the early workers chosen by God could, and did, fall because of pride. Despite this, the church will not fall. The construction of the true church will definitely continue until the work is completed.

THE SECOND STORM: CONFUSION OVER THE TRUTH

The second storm the True Jesus Church went through was confusion over the truth. False doctrines were brought into Gods church, causing turmoil among members. Many false teachings have come and gone, but some have left lasting consequences.

One such false teaching propagated the idea of the devils self-existence. It was first touched on in September 1950, when a church worker published an article in True Holiness (a publication similar to Holy Spirit Monthly) expressing his view that the devil is self-existing. He opined that although Satan is in opposition to God, his power is not equivalent to Gods. Moreover, the church worker believed that even though Satan is self-existing, he is not eternal and cannot live forever. When the article was published, the church acted promptly and took a strong stand against this view, rejecting the teaching and highlighting its incongruence with biblical truth. This prevented the spread and damage of this false teaching within the church.

However, this teaching was re-introduced into the church in 1999, when a preacher, who has since been excommunicated, insisted that the devil is self-existing and not a fallen angel, and that the church had been wrong all this time. Regrettably, at the second occurrence, the church did not make as strong a stand as in 1950, but rather, out of openness and love, the church leaders permitted continued study into the matter. As a result, this heretical teaching seeped out and festered for thirteen years, to the detriment of the church and those who were deceived.

The damage inflicted by the false teaching and its propagator is clearly evident to all now, with ongoing strife between full-time workers and believers worldwide in the True Jesus Church. Therefore, the church must stand firm and act quickly against false teachings that contradict the truth, and be wary of any future reoccurrence of such teachings.

The storm of false doctrines will continue as we persevere in the construction of Gods true church. When God leads His workers to build His church, the devil will also endeavor to hinder this work. We should recognize that this battle does not belong to you and me; it is a battle that the devil is waging against God. He will attempt to obstruct the work of salvation. This is a storm that we must face until the end.

THE THIRD STORM: POLITICAL OPPOSITION

In 1917, the Holy Spirit worked through the early workers to establish His church, starting in Beijing, followed by around 1,000 locations in China over a period of forty years. However, after 1957, there was a major political shift in China, leading to the socioeconomic chaos of the Cultural Revolution, where religious movements were oppressed by the governing Communist party. This pushed our church in China into a state of hibernation. Members faith was shaken and some even felt that the True Jesus Church was a house built on sand.

Nevertheless, there remained others who firmly believed that the church would rise above the storm. Although the tempestuous gales blew so fiercely that construction appeared to have ceased, these faithful members held fast to their belief that God would surely guide them to complete the work. Although oppressed, they secretly maintained contact with other members. Those who were even braver continued to preach to their friends and relatives amid the political unrest.

It was not until the 1970s that the political situation in China improved. As the country became more open and liberal, the storm receded and the work of building the church resumed. The political oppression has been damaging; yet, the Lords work has continued, because the construction of the true church is Gods will. No matter how boisterous the wave or how strong the gale, the house built upon the Rock of Jesus Christ will stand firm.

UNLESS THE LORD BUILDS THE HOUSE

The true church has endured many stormy winds and waves, but has remained firmly established. The Book of Zechariah reminds us that Gods house persists not through our own might and wisdom:

Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying:

The hands of Zerubbabel

Have laid the foundation of this temple;

His hands shall also finish it.

Then you will know

That the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.

 For who has despised the day of small things?

For these seven rejoice to see

The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.

They are the eyes of the Lord,

Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth. (Zech 4:8V10)

Although the hands of Zerubbabel had laid the foundation of the temple, these hands faltered and ceased work when faced with opposition. In time, God called on Zerubbabel to continue the construction of the temple, reminding him that the work would not be completed through his might alone (Zech 4:6). Gods hands strengthened him, reinvigorating his wavering arms to complete the building of the temple.

From this, we learn that the rebuilding of the temple is not the work of man, but of God. Today, when we build up the church, we should not think of it as asking God to complete our work. Rather, it is the other way roundwe should ask God to help us work with Him to complete His work.

These are two contrasting perspectives. If we ask God to work with us to complete the work, and we succeed, we may think God works to fulfill our ambitions and build His house according to our ideas. If we fail, we will become dejected and complain that God has not worked with us.

Conversely, if we hold the view that we are the ones working with God to complete His work, we will understand that the success we achieve is for the glory of God. If we fail, God will guide others to finish the work. Workers will come and go, but Gods work to build His house will persist. Man is weak and may fail, but God is never weak and will never fail.

THREE PROCLAMATIONS FROM GOD

God will help us to build up the true church because it is His work. To encourage His workers with good and comforting words (Zech 1:13), God sent His prophet Zechariah to make three proclamations.

First Proclamation: I Am Zealous for Jerusalem

So the angel who spoke with me said to me, Proclaim, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts:

I am zealous for Jerusalem

And for Zion with great zeal. (Zech 1:14)

We who are zealous in building the church of God should constantly reflect: are we maintaining the same level of zeal in our service, or have we, over time, become cold? As we serve, we can become disheartened because of the many disagreeable incidents that come our way. We may even ask: Do I need to be so zealous? Why should I make such sacrifices? What do I gain from them? If we continue with this line of questioning, we may become so discouraged that we no longer desire even to attend services, let alone serve. Our fervor wanes when we rely solely on our limited human zeal. 

However, the Lord has proclaimed, I am zealous for Jerusalem (Zech 1:14). God Himself is zealous to build His house and His zeal will never grow cold. Why are we so anxious then? Instead, we ought to reflect on our own attitude towards our labor for Gods house.

Second Proclamation: I Am Returning to Jerusalem with Mercy

Therefore thus says the Lord:

I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy;

My house shall be built in it, says the Lord of hosts,

And a surveyors line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. (Zech 1:16)

When God made this proclamation, the work on the temple had ceased for sixteen years. The faith of the post-exilic Jews was weak because, for sixteen years, they could not see any action from God. They probably thought: We were so zealous in constructing the temple for You. When we met with difficulties, we resolved the minor issues ourselves. But now that we are experiencing major issues, why do You not help us? They doubted God and even murmured against Him.

So God proclaimed to them: I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy.

At the right moment, God would return to Jerusalem. This meant that He would restart His rebuilding work, but it did not mean that He had left His people during the period of His apparent silence. We must understand that God has His time.

Third Proclamation:

My Cities Shall Again Spread Out through Prosperity

Again proclaim, saying, Thus says the LORD of hosts:

My cities shall again spread out through prosperity;

The Lord will again comfort Zion,

And will again choose Jerusalem. (Zech 1:17)

The construction of the true church is the will of God. God is zealous for His church; He will return to Jerusalem with mercy and His house will surely prosper. In our service today, it may seem like our efforts have yielded little progress. However, let us remember, God has promised that as long as we are working for Him, the work will flourish and the building of His house will be completed.

BUILDING THE ONE HOUSE AS ONE BODY

The work of building Gods house on the rock is not one to be undertaken alone, nor should it be implemented only by the ministers. Rather, it is to be done by the whole congregationthe body of Christ, His church. Although Nehemiah had great fervor to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he did not set about doing the work alone. Instead, he mobilized the nation, the Jews who remained or had returned to the holy city, to rebuild the walls. Nehemiah told the people:

You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach. And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the kings words that he had spoken to me. So they said, Let us rise up and build. Then they set their hands to this good work. (Neh 2:17V18)

At that time, the walls of Jerusalem had burned down. The people, fearing the storms of oppression, did not have the courage to rebuild the city wall. The Jews living among the ruins of Jerusalem felt that God did not protect them, and that their enemies could destroy their efforts. They feared their work would yield no tangible results, like the house built on sand.

Nevertheless, Nehemiah reminded the Jews of the indignation that they had suffered, the humiliation of their beloved city, and the desolation of their home. But most importantly, he pointed out the injustice of turning a blind eye to the current state of their temple and city. Let the call of Nehemiah move us to reflect on ourselves: Do we feel a sense of belonging in church, in this house we are building? Is this house that is built on the rock our house?

We are a part of the body of Christ, working together to build the one house on the rock. As such, we must maintain our dignity. The young David is a good example of this. When he heard Goliath mocking Israel, David said, For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? (1 Sam 17:26b). David even made good his word by setting out to fight Goliathnot because he was an impulsive young man or that he thought he was a good fighter, but because he esteemed his dignity as one of Gods people. David could not allow this uncircumcised Gentile to humiliate the people of God.

Many a time, we think that the duty to defend the church from attack lies in the hands of the ministers or the church board, not the common believer. But David, who was neither a soldier nor a king, felt that sense of duty and acted accordingly. He was described by God as a man after His own heart (1 Sam 13:14). We, too, ought to remember that we are members, not guests, of Gods household, and so must shoulder our responsibility.

Finally, Nehemiah encouraged the people by telling them how God had influenced the king to allow him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. Amazingly, the king not only granted Nehemiah his request, but also contributed the materials needed for the reconstruction. This Gentile king, who played no part in Gods house, recognized that the Jews would labor for the living God. He became a testimony to the Jews, proving Nehemiahs assertion that God was with them. They were inspired to proclaim, Let us rise up and build. Even when they faced opposition, Nehemiah re-affirmed the peoples commitment, saying to their antagonists, The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem (Neh 2:20). Indeed, the Jews then worked until the wall was completely rebuilt. These people are worthy of our emulation. Though we may become disheartened in the face of challenges, we must keep these words of encouragement in our heart. Let us rise up and commit to doing this good work—to continue building the house of God on the solid rock.

To be continued.

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Author: Aun Quek Chin
Publisher: True Jesus Church
Date: 12/08/2017
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