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 (Living Waters 1982 Volume 1)
How To Obtain Truth (1)
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How To Obtain the Truth (1)

Shundao Xie

The most precious thing on earth is not wealth, knowledge, or power, but the Truth.  Wealth enables us to enjoy much material comfort.  But it does not bring to us eternal life.  Broad knowledge can help solve many problems but not the ultimate problem of life.  Great power can conquer the world but not our own mind.  However, the Truth gives us eternal satisfaction and enables us to enjoy true happiness, to enter heaven, and to enjoy heavenly glory.  The Truth keeps us calm so we can enjoy the sweetness of a Christian family.  It causes us to understand the meaning of life and the value of our existence.  It provides meaning to our life.  The Truth releases us from the bondage of sin and enables us to be good and righteous.

How, then, can we obtain such precious Truth?

A.     Hear the Truth.

It is written in the Bible that to search for God one has to believe in Him; to believe in Him one has to hear the Truth.  If one has never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he cannot know how to believe in God.  If one has never believed in God, he cannot know how to call upon Him (Rom 10:14).  Therefore, it is obvious that the first step toward obtaining the Truth is to lend our ears to the Truth.

The Truth is the secret and hidden wisdom of God (I Cor 2:7-9), which is often incomprehensible not only to an ordinary person (Mt 13:14) but also to the disciples of Jesus (Jn 6:60-63).  However, if one is willing to follow the suggestions offered here, he will be able to understand the Truth.

1.        Study the Bible with a humble attitude. 

Most gentiles who have never even read the Bible nor heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ criticize the Christian faith.  There is an obvious lack of humility in these people.  They may have the opportunity to hear the Truth, but they are not able to understand the Truth.

1900 years ago, there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a Minister of Candace the Queen of Ethiopia, who was in charge of the treasury, came one day to Jerusalem to worship.  On his way back, he was reading about the prophet Isaiah.  Philip ran to him and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" Being a prestigious, powerful and supposedly knowledgeable officer in the government, it was almost an insult to be asked a question like this.  However, he did not mind at all.  He humbly replied, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" He invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  Then he ' asked Philip, "Who was the prophet Isaiah referring to, himself or someone else?" Then Philip opened his mouth and told him the good news of Jesus.  Having heard about the Savior Jesus, the Ethiopian asked that he be baptized (Act 8:26-39).  This was the result of this Ethiopian eunuch who was humble in his searching for the Truth.  It did not take him long to understand and to accept the Truth.

When Paul and Silas went to Berea to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ as described by Luke, "These Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so.  Many of them therefore believed with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men" (Acts 17:10-12).  The behavior and outcome of the people of Berea tells us that a wise person neither denies nor accepts the Truth easily.  They will study the Bible daily, judge what they have learned, then decide whether or not they are willing to accept it.  This is the result of searching the Truth (Bible) with humbleness.

The more the Truth (Bible) is studied, the more it is understood.  The more one understands the Truth, the more one will be delighted, so much so, that one cannot stop searching (Ps 19:105, 147-148).

When Jesus was preaching the Truth, He performed many miracles in different cities.  However, the people in those cities hardened their hearts and failed to repent.  Jesus reprimanded them and told them they would be punished. (Mt 11:20-24) Then Jesus prayed to the Father, "I thank thee Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the vase and understanding and revealed them to babes [i.e., humble people]; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will" (Mt 11:25-26).  God reveals the Truth to those who study the Bible with humble heart.  This is the proper attitude to be adopted by those who are eager to understand the Truth.

2.        Meditate day and night upon the Truth. 

In order to obtain the Truth, one needs to find time for quiet meditation lest he be perplexed and lost.  Confucius once said, "Learning without thinking about what one has learned is in vain; thinking without learning makes knowledge futile." Mencius also said, "The most important function of the mind is to think.  If you think, you will understand; otherwise you will not understand." The same principle is applicable to the learning of the Truth.  In order to understand the meaning of the Truth, one has to constantly think and meditate upon the Truth.

About two thousand years ago in the city of Nazareth of Galilee, there lived a virgin named Mary who was engaged to be married.  One day an angel came to her and said, "Hail, 0 Favored One, the Lord is with you!" Mary was surprised by this greeting.  The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus..." (Lk 1:26-38).There were, of course, many virgins other than Mary in the country.  But God chose Mary to be the mother of the Savior Jesus.  Among the many reasons as to why Mary pleased God and why she was chosen, was that she was used to "considering in her mind" whatever happened to her.  Because of this "considering in her mind," the angel was able to inform her that she was to conceive and give birth to the Savior Jesus.

About six months before this happened, the angel had revealed to the priest, Zechariah, that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear him a son and he should call this son John.  This visitation to Zechariah was similar to that of Mary.  Zechariah, however, was not only suspicious about what the angel had told him, but also stopped "considering in his mind" concerning this matter.  Therefore, the angel told him, "Because you have not believed my word, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day these things come to pass" (Lk 1:80-20).  As we consider these two incidents, we realize it was very precious for Mary to "consider in her mind" what was to happen to her.

The next year, there were shepherds in the field at Bethlehem, keeping watch over their flocks by night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them and said, "To you is born this day in city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in. a manger." The shepherds, having heard what had been fulfilled, spread the angel's words about this babe among themselves.  All those who heard this wondered at what the shepherds had told them.  But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart (Lk 2:8-19).

It is written: "Blessed Is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord and in H's law he meditates day and night" (Ps 1:2).  "Oh, how I love thy law!  It is my meditation all the day.  My eyes are awake before the watches of the night that I may meditate upon thy promise" (Ps 119:7, 148).  May we all develop in ourselves the habit of meditating upon the Lord's words in order to understand the Truth more fully!

3.        Do not hesitate to question. 

In order to comprehend the Truth more fully, one not only has to meditate on the Truth but also to question constantly.  It is useless if one listens and does not think about what he hears.  If one thinks yet does not question, then what he comprehends is very limited.  Thinking and questioning are like the two wings of a bird; none is dispensable.

When Jesus was twelve years old, His parents took Him to Jerusalem to the Feast of the Passover.  When the feast ended and they were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  All who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers (Lk 2:41-47)

According to Jewish custom, boys were to learn the laws of God when they were twelve years of age.  When Jesus was sitting among the teachers listening and asking questions, He wanted to learn the laws of God.  Later when Jesus was tested by the Devil in the wilderness, He quoted God's words three times to defeat the temptations of the Devil.  Jesus' familiarity with God's words was due to His eagerness to learn to listen, and to ask when He was young.  He has set for us a good example to follow.

When Jesus was preaching the Truth, there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  He came to Jesus by night.  Jesus said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old?" Jesus told him that "born again" meant to be born of water and spirit.  Nicodemus still could not understand.  He asked again, "How can this be?" Jesus explained further that He (Jesus) was the Savior of mankind and would give eternal life to whoever believed in Him. (Jn 3:1-15)

From this conversation, we realize that Nicodemus was a man who was eager to learn.  He came to see Jesus at night to learn teachings from Jesus.  Because of his eagerness to ask, Jesus explained to him the Truth in greater detail.  As for the Truth about being born again, as explained by Jesus, we don't know how much Nicodemus understood.  What we do know is that when the chief priests and Pharisees were judging Jesus, Nicodemus stood up bravely against them and spoke up for Jesus (Jn 7:45-5 1).  After Jesus died, he "brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight" with which to bury Jesus (Jn 19:39).

B.     Believe in the Truth.

It is written in the Bible, "But they have not all heeded the gospel for Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"' So faith develops as a result of listening to the preachings of the Word (Rom 10:16-17).  One must begin by hearing the Truth.  In turn, this will lead to the acceptance of the Truth.

As there are correct ways to hear the Truth, there are also correct ways to believe the Truth.  As mentioned above, the way to hear the Truth is to study humbly, meditate continually and question constantly.  There are three steps leading to the belief in the Truth, namely, repent, be baptized for the remission of sins in the Name of Jesus, and. receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

1.        Repent. 

John the Baptist preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mt 3:1-2).  Jesus also said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mk 1:14-15).  On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured upon the congregation.  Peter bravely testified for the Lord telling of His death, His resurrection and His ascension into heaven.  After the congregation had heard Peter's testimony, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter, "What shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you . . . " (Acts 2: 14-38) Repentance, therefore, is the first prerequisite for salvation.

The Greek word of "repent" is metanoia.  It means to have a change of heart and mind.  That is to change oneself from a sin-follower to a follower of God.  A person must confess all his previous wrongdoings and determine to turn away from wickedness (Mt 3:6, Act 3:26).  In a positive sense, it means to turn oneself to God and perform moral deeds (Act 26:20; Tit 2:14).  Paul wrote in Romans 6:13, 17 and 19 about repentance: "Though once the members of my body were yielded to sin as instruments of wickedness, now I yield myself to the Truth and members to God as instruments of righteousness."

When John the Baptist was performing the baptism of repentance (Acts 19:4), many Jews went to him, confessed their sins and accepted the baptism.  But when John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, . . . even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Mt 3:5-20).  Repentance means more than confessing our sins.  It is imperative that we perform good deeds in our daily lives.  Only those who repent are worthy of the Truth and be spared of God's anger.

About 1900 years ago, Philip went down to a city of Samaria, and proclaimed to the people the Christ.  And the multitude, with one accord, gave heed to what was said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs which he did.  There was a man named Simon who had previously practiced magic in the city who, when he saw the miracles performed by Philip, was amazed.  He accepted the faith and was baptized into Christ.  When the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they went there and laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.  When Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying of the apostles' hands, he offered them money for this gift of God.  The motivation of Simon's belief in God was to take advantage of the situation and make money instead of repentance.  Thus he was not worthy of the Truth.  Peter reprimanded him severely and said, "Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!  You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.  Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours that the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.  For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." Fortunately, Simon repented in time and requested Peter to pray for him. (Acts 8:5-24).

When Paul was preaching in Ephesus many people ca me confessing their practices of magic.  A number of them brought their books and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the value of the books and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver (Acts 19:18-19).  The fact that the money amounted to fifty thousand days' worth of wage indicated that much witchcraft was performed in the city.  However, the people performing the witchcraft repented and burned their books.  This episode attests to the fact that they indeed were determined to repent.

Once Jesus went to Jericho and there he met a man named Zacchaeus, chief tax collector.  He was rich but he was lonely, for he had defrauded many people of their money.  He was rich in a material way but poor in spirit.  The luxury of his life failed to produce in him any satisfaction.  What he needed was spiritual happiness.  He wanted to see for himself who Jesus was, but could not.  Because of the crowd and his small stature he climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him.  Jesus was a righteous man but Zacchaeus was a sinner hated by all.  However, much to his surprise, Jesus looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he made haste and came down, and received Jesus joyfully.  Zacchaeus said to the Lord, "Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house. (Lk 19:1-10).

If Zacchaeus were to keep his promise, he would become impoverished. He was a rich man and was used to the luxurious life he led.  Yet he was willing to become poor and suffer because he had received salvation and had seen the glory of heaven.  His heart was fully satisfied and his repentance genuine.

My dear friends, would you be willing to surrender yourself totally to Jesus, repent of your sins with all your heart, and enter the kingdom of God?

2.        Be baptized. 

Many churches believe that baptism is no more than a formality in becoming a Christian and has little to do with salvation.  However, there are many instances in the Bible which prove that salvation and baptism are absolutely related.

About five thousand years ago, God caused a flood upon the whole earth.  Noah followed the command of God, built an Ark, and took his whole household into the Ark to save his family.  According to the Bible, Noah and his family were saved by the Ark.

In I Peter 3:20 we are informed that they were saved through water.  Peter emphasizes the word "water" to show the saving of Noah and his household actually prefigures that of salvation through baptism.  "Baptism which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (I Pet 3:21).

Why are baptism and salvation absolutely related?

1.       Jesus told Nicodemus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5).  "To be born again of water" is to be baptized and fulfills the act of being born anew.  Paul said that baptism is the "washing of regeneration" and is one of the ways by which God saves souls (Tit 3:5).  Most churches believe that "to repent" is to' be born again.  However, there are five places in the Bible where "born again" is mentioned (Jn 3:3, 7-1 Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 1:3, 23) yet there is no scripture that states repentance is the same as being born again.  Needless to say, whoever desires to be born again has to repent.  Being "born again" is not completed at the time of repentance.  Instead, it is done at the end of the baptism.  The order is repentance, baptism, born again.

2.       Our God is a Holy God (I Pet 1: 16).  He dwells in holy places.  We are sinners; none is righteous (Gal 3:22; Rom 3:23, 9-10).  Therefore, unless we are forgiven of our sins and become holy, we cannot see God (Heb 12:14).  It is clearly written in the Bible that baptism can wash away our sins (Acts 2:38, 22:16).  Being cleansed is the necessary condition leading to salvation.  How can baptism wash away our sins?  When- Jesus was crucified on the cross, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water (Jn 19:34).  We are baptized with water and blood (there is blood in the water), and the Holy Spirit is the witness (I Jn 5:6-7).  The blood of the Lord is the power that cleanses us from our sins (Eph 1:7, 1 Pet 1:18-19) and was poured out for the forgiveness of sins (Mt 26:28).  Therefore, baptism in the Name of Jesus has the power to forgive us our sins.  Most churches use Acts 3:19 to deny that baptism has this power and claim that as long as one repents one will be Cleansed of his sins (Arts 3:19).  It is obvious that one who is to believe in God and ask for forgiveness of his sins must repent.  However, the forgiveness of sins is effective only when one is baptized in the name of Jesus, not when one repents only.  The order should be - repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus, receive the forgiveness of sins.

3.       The kingdom of God belongs to the righteous, and only the righteous are qualified to enter (Mt 13:43, 25:46).  There is power in the baptism, not only to forgive sins, but to make one righteous as well (I Cor 6: 11).  To be made righteous is to be reckoned as righteous (Rom 4:5) and be treated as righteous.  In other words, this means that our sins have been laid on Jesus (Is 53:6, If Cor 5:21).  It also means that in Him (Jesus) we become the righteousness of God (Rom 4:25; 2 Cor 5:21).  Those who are baptized are not only sinless, they are now righteous.  It is also written in the Bible that those who are baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal 3:17).  "Put on Christ" means to put on Christ as a garment.  Christ is righteous (Lk 23:47), therefore, whoever "puts on" Christ will be made righteous.  Furthermore, Christ is the Son of God (Rom 1:3-4), therefore whoever puts on Christ will become the son of God." . . . You are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" (Gal 3:28-29). The form of baptism is very important.  Only the correct baptism is effective for one to be born again, to receive the forgiveness of sins, for being made righteous, and for the putting on of Christ - all of which lead to salvation.  If the method of baptism is in error, it is as though one has not been baptized at all.

What is the correct form of baptism?

1.       The term baptism means "soaking," so one should be immersed in water.  According to the Bible, when Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan, He entered the water first then went up from the water (Mt 3:16).  If He had not received the "dipping" ceremony, why did He go into the water?  It is also written that John the Baptist chose a river which had much water (Jn 3:23), If John did not perform the "dipping" ceremony, why did he choose a place with plenty of water?  When Philip baptized the Eunuch from Ethiopia, it is written in the Bible, "Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water and Philip baptized him.  And then they came up out of the water . . . " (Acts 8:38-39) If Philip performed the "sprinkling" ceremony, why did both of them go into the water?  According to written documents, the Prince from Ethiopia came to the U.S. in 1923 and said, "We have not changed what Philip preached.  We receive the immersion baptism, we keep the Sabbath on Saturday and there are 36 million people in our country who keep the Sabbath." This report indicates that the ancient church did perform the immersion baptism, as prescribed in the Bible.

2.       During the immersion baptism, the one being baptized should face downward.  This is the proper posture of a sinner who confesses his sins to God and begs for forgiveness (Ezra 9:6, Ps 40:12; Lk 18: 13-14).  When Jesus died on the cross, He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit (Jn 19:30), One who is to be baptized should bow his head as Jesus did at His death in order to be united with Jesus in His death (Rom 6:5).  Baptism means to be baptized unto His death, be buried with Him, and to resurrect with Him (Rom 6:3-5; Col 2:12).  To bow one's head means to die with Christ; to be immersed in the water is to b, buried with Christ; and to come up from the water means to be resurrected with Christ.  To die with Christ is to be crucified on the cross, thereby destroying the sinful body Which is no longer enslaved by sin (Rom 6:67). To be buried with the Lord means to be freed from the punishment of the law- To be resurrected with the Lord is to have a new life in Christ- The old sins are taken away.  Some churches perform the immersion baptism in which the one to be baptized faces upward instead of downward.  Some other churches perform the sprinkling baptism instead of the immersion baptism.  All these are in error according to the Bible.  Nowhere in the ceremony they perform indicates the meaning of dying, being buried and resurrecting with the Lord.  The baptism performed by the True Jesus Church is in full accordance with the teachings of the Bible.

3.       The minister who performs the sacrament of baptism baptizes the believers in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  According to the book of the Acts, baptism performed during the Apostles' time was done in the Name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, 10:48) or in the Name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 8:16, 19:5).  It was never performed in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Churches that baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit found their rationale in Matthew 28:19.  But the 11 name " in that verse is singular.  The Name is Jesus.  Jesus is the Word that became flesh and is the Savior (Jn 1:14).  The Word was God (Jn 1:1). The birth of Jesus is the manifestation of God in the flesh (I Tim 3:16).  The Son and the Father are one (Jn 10:30). The Spirit of the Father dwells in the Son (Jn 14:8-9).  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father (Mt 10:20), the Spirit of the Son (Gal 4:6), the Spirit of God (Mt 3:16) and is the Spirit of Jesus (Act 16:7, Rom 8:9).  John 17:12 states, "I kept them in thy Name of the Lord Jesus instead of in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  As for the churches that baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the I name I is not explicitly indicated, thus creating confusion as to what the "name" really is.

4.       Only those who have received the Holy Spirit are qualified to perform baptism.  The power to forgive sins is in the blood of the Lord in the water during baptism, and the Holy Spirit is the witness (I Jn 5:6-7, Jn 19:34).  If the person performing baptism has not himself received the Holy Spirit, there is no witness of the Lord's blood in the water.  Moreover, the power of forgiveness belongs to God.  No one can forgive the sins of others, only God (Mk 2.7).  The person who performs baptism must have received the Holy Spirit, which is the power that forgives sin (Jn 20:21-23).



            (TO BE CONTINUED)