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 (Manna 69: One True Church)
The Church—God’s Called-Out Assembly
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The Church—God’s Called-Out Assembly

Based on a sermon by Simon Chin—Singapore


Normally, when people say they are “going to church,” they refer to the physical church building. In the context of the Bible, however, the church refers to an assembly of people called out by God. It comes from the Greek root word ekklesia, which means “called out.”

We first see evidence of people being “called out” in the Old Testament:

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deut 14:2)

Back then, God told the Israelites that they were a holy people, chosen by God for Himself. There were many other nations at that time, such as the Philistines and the Assyrians, but God did not choose them. God chose the Israelites, and they became a people called out from the world to belong to Him. They were a special treasure above everybody else. This was amazing grace given to the people of God.

This unique status was also made apparent to the world. The king of Moab tried to bribe a false prophet, Balaam, to curse the Israelites. But Balaam could only speak what God told him to speak (Num 23:7–8). Balaam thus ended up blessing the Israelites, referring to them as “a people dwelling alone” (Num 23:9). Clearly, this nation of God’s people is not a nation of the world.

In the context of the True Jesus Church today, we need to realize that our church is not a church of the world; she is a called-out assembly of God’s people. Since the church is not of the world, she must dwell alone. When people ask what denomination the True Jesus Church belongs to, we say that we do not belong to any. Being part of a Christian denomination—the categorization of the churches of the world—signals that we belong to the world. We do not belong to the world but to God.

Redeemed by His Blood

Some skeptics may challenge our claim to be the church of the Lord. How do we know we have really been called out by the Lord? Let us examine how God called His people out in the New Testament.

In a vision (Rev 5:9–10), Elder John saw four living creatures and twenty-four elders around the throne of the lamb, singing praises to God. They sang that Jesus Christ was worthy to take the scroll and open the seal. Christ was worthy because He was killed to redeem people to God by His blood; this group of people was made a kingdom and priests to God.

In other words, this church of the Lord is an assembly of people called out to the Lord by His precious blood. That is why the church is so precious in His sight. We must never think that the church is just any organization and that we belong to a mere organization. We are all members of the church of Christ because Jesus has redeemed us with His blood. We are very precious to Him.

Apostle Paul spent three years providing pastoral care to the church in Ephesus. Just before his departure, he exhorted the elders there to shepherd the church of God:

“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

“God” in this passage refers to Jesus. The church that belongs to God consists of the believers, whom Jesus purchased with His own blood. This is why the church is unique.

A common question is whether there is such a thing as the true church. The answer is a resounding and definite “Yes!” Many churches were established by men, not by the will of God. They were established by the power of kings, priests or people who love the Lord. These churches may be good churches, but the blood of Christ does not redeem them because they are established by the hands of men. This is the difference between the churches of the world and the church of God.

[A]nd from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

(Rev 1:5–6)

Elder John tells us that the blood of Christ washes away our sins. Believers then become the church of the Lord; a kingdom (the original text reads “kingdom”) and priesthood dedicated to serving God. This cleansing by the blood of Jesus is essential if we are to be part of God’s kingdom.
We thank God that this grace is given to the True Jesus Church. Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ effectively washes away our sins because the blood of Christ is present. Visions of blood during the baptisms conducted by the True Jesus Church attest to this.

Significance of the True Church

The “true church” is not just a buzzword. It has great significance, which we must understand.

(a) Called To Serve Him

Firstly, God chooses us to serve Him, the one true God.

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

(1 Cor 8:5–6)

Many people in Corinth were idol-worshipers. But the blood of Christ called out the Christians who lived among them. These believers could tell the difference between Jesus, the true God, and the idols. Today we have been called out just like them. Through Jesus, our Lord, are all things; through Jesus we live. Hence we cannot serve another God. The modern danger is not any physical idol, but is represented by the unseen gods we give our love to. Such love belongs to the one true God, and Him alone. But we often give this love to the world. The Scriptures say God is a jealous God. This means that He treasures our love so much that He does not want us to waste even the smallest ounce of it in loving the world. Only when we completely belong to God, will we be set free from the abominable things of the world.

Wickedness exists in this world because there are those who do not love God. They have no qualms doing wicked things because they have no fear of God. In contrast, those who know the one true God have the fear of God. They know that this is their Father, and that through Him they have life. Hence, they resolve to serve Him with all their heart, soul, and mind. God is not someone whom we seek only during prayers or only when we have problems and need a trouble-shooter.

Moses reminds us: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut 10:12), and “The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day” (Deut 10:15).

Today, this is why we are called out to be God’s assembly. People of the world do not understand this special and precious relationship—He is our God, and we are His people. To many, faith is human-centric, i.e., God “exists” to serve them! So the business people seek the deity of commerce to bless them. Those who need wealth flock to the god of prosperity to bless them. They worship God in order to be blessed.

In contrast, our faith is—and must be—God-centric. We serve Him because we have been called out for this purpose. Understanding this is very important; it enables us to be joyful as we serve God. Taking up the cross and following Him is easy. We will not murmur when we hit a rough spot. Everything we do for God, we will do with love. This is the grace we receive from God when we serve Him. Those who serve Him sincerely and fervently will draw closer to God and be further strengthened in their faith.

(b) Called to Enjoy His Abidance

God’s Abidance and Sanctification

Secondly, God calls us out to abide in us. Through His abidance, we become holy. God will not dwell with people of the world but only with His people. God wants His people to come out of this world undefiled. He will then receive them; He shall be their Father, and they, His children.

The church of the Lord comprises a people called out through the blood of Christ so that they will be holy. To sanctify men, God uses the truth and the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts, so that they can abide in God and He with them, and the glory of God can be manifested. Therefore, the church must be cleansed by the word of truth and the Holy Spirit in order to become holy. When we are holy, the Holy One can then abide with us and we with Him. The result of such a life is glory in God’s eyes and eternal life.

Abide in the Truth

Also, believers in God’s true church must dwell in the truth:

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

(1 Pet 1:22–23)

Since we are reborn, we are no longer our old selves. We are a new people. In Christ, we are a new creation, and we become people with the heart of God, with His holiness, filled with the word of the Lord. This is the church of God. That is why she is called the pillar of truth. Whatever the church does is according to the truth. Truth must rule over the church.

Given this great importance of the truth, we must esteem learning the word of God. We come to church for fellowship—with God. We need to truly listen to the word of God and accept this word into our hearts. Many of us are physically in church, but our hearts are not there. How then can we have fellowship with God? How then can we be the called-out assembly? Coming to church for the sole purpose of fellowship with men will keep us from being born of the word of God. And if we are not born of the word of God, we cannot be the church of God.

God chose us from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thess 2:13–14). Belief in the truth is receiving the truth into our heart and becoming a new and holy person in Christ. The Holy Spirit working in us helps us to bear fruit for salvation. This is why the truth and the Holy Spirit are so important. Neither money nor intelligence can gain us the truth and the Spirit of God. Yet they are freely given to us by grace. If we are ready to believe, submit, and be humble before Him, this grace of the truth and the Holy Spirit will be given to us. Grace is given to those who have faith. If we have this kind of readiness, and if we are baptized in the blood of Christ, the grace of salvation will definitely result in eternal life.

(c) Called to Do His Will

Thirdly, we must do God’s will.

[L]ooking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

(Tit 2:13–14)

When we are called out, we are redeemed by the blood of Christ and purified to be Christ’s own special people. But we must also be zealous for good works, i.e., not only must we do deeds of charity to love one another, but we must also preach the gospel. This is why God chose us.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

(1 Pet 2:9–10)

We are different from everyone else—we are a chosen generation, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and His special people. This is grace given to us—once we were not the people of God, but now we are the people of God! Jesus tells us that we did not choose Him, but He chose us. Out of all the nations in the world, God chose Israel, not because they enjoyed any quantitative or qualitative superiority; it was purely His choice.

But with this special status comes responsibility. He has given us the knowledge of the truth. It is thus our duty to proclaim His marvelous light, to tell the world of this Savior who called us out of darkness into His light.

Today, there are many—both Christian and non-Christian—who love God. But not all of them were chosen by God, even if they are Christians. Whom God chooses is His sovereign right as Creator and Lord of Life. We, as chosen creatures and part of the minority, can only be grateful for such indescribable grace. Let us not take this for granted but instead try to be worthy of such marvelous grace and do our duty of preaching the gospel.

First, to walk in a way worthy of His grace requires us to remember at all times that we are called to glorify the name of the Lord. Offering a cup of water to the least of our brethren, sharing a quiet word of encouragement or offering a simple prayer for our brothers and sisters—this is a zealous act when done sincerely and lovingly for the Lord. Those who love the Lord will naturally have a heart of mercy and kindness towards others.

Second, we must preach the gospel in and out of season. As long as there are people we can preach to, we should. This is how Paul preached the gospel. He did not prejudge people as being “worthy” or “unworthy” to receive God’s word. Thank God, we see many today who remember that they have freely received the grace of being “called out”—preachers who zealously relocate to very remote places to bring this grace to other souls, and even members who take leave from work for a long period of time to follow ministers in this good work. They do not passively wait to be allocated work, but instead actively seek the opportunity to go. They often do more than they are required to.

Conclusion: Do It In the Name of the Lord

As people called by the Lord’s name, whatever we do, let us do it in His name and to His glory. When we do things out of the fear of God and according to the truth, when we do so for God and not for us, then we will not lose our reward.

If we have the opportunity to evangelize on overseas missionary trips, be not afraid to launch out into the deep. Yet not everyone needs to go on overseas ministry trips. If we do not have the opportunity to do so, let us do good deeds within our local churches.

In all, seize every opportunity to build up the body of Christ. If we do a beautiful thing unto the body of Christ, we will be like Mary anointing Jesus with the fragrant ointment. God will remember, and we will not lose our reward.

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Author: Simon Chin