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 (Manna 70: Discerning the Truth)
The Truth That We Have Received
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The Truth That We Have Received

Jonathan Chou—Hillsborough, New Jersey, USA

Truth is absolute, unchanging and eternal (2 Cor 1:18–20; 2 Tim 2:13). The ancient saints adored the truth. For example, the psalmist proclaimed: “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth” (Ps 86:11). He also said: “Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I have hoped in Your ordinances. So shall I keep Your law continually, forever and ever” (Ps 119:43–44).

Defending the Truth

When Jesus was being tried, Pilate asked Him, “What have you done? Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (Jn 18:37–38). Jesus died protecting the truth.

The apostles were also committed to upholding the truth. Paul charged Timothy: “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us” (2 Tim 1:13–14). Moreover, he told the Galatians: “If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:6–9).

The Truth As Revealed by God

God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). This is why since ancient times, God has at various times and in various ways committed His oracles to the prophets (Rom 3:2). He also revealed to His apostles and prophets that which was not known in other ages: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs with the Jews, and similarly partake of His promise in Christ through the gospel (Eph 3:5–6). For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, and this gospel has come to the world and is bringing forth fruit (Tit 2:11; Col 1:6).

As Apostle John testified: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:14, 16–17).

God’s Word Is Truth (Jn 17:17)

God’s word is settled in heaven and lasts for eternity; it is the everlasting and unchanging truth (Ps 119:89). God is the Word, and by the word of the Lord, the heavens were made. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Ps 33:6, 9). Furthermore, He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:2–3).

As previously mentioned, God spoke in the past to the fathers by the prophets, at various times and in various ways (Heb 1:1). There were those who harbored an evil heart of unbelief and departed from the living God (Heb 3:12). However, the chosen ones, because of their belief, obtained a good testimony through their faith. As a result, God has prepared a city for them—a better, heavenly country (Heb 11:16).

The Holy Bible is the word of God; it is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps 119:105). It is food for our spirit (Ps 19:7–10). Paul told Timothy that the Holy Scriptures were able to make him wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:15). The Lord Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (Jn 5:39).

We should not forget that whatever things were written before were written for our learning (Rom 15:4). The word spoken through angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward (Heb 2:2). Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness” (Heb 3:7–8). Paul reminds us that the Israelites were punished for their evil deeds, and that they serve as examples and warnings for us (1 Cor 10:11).

The Lord Jesus Is the Truth (Jn 14:6–14)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1–2). We know that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; this was Jesus Himself (Jn 1:14, 18). This is indeed a great mystery (1 Tim 3:16; Heb 2:2–3). How great our God is, that He became flesh and dwelt among us! From a human perspective, He looked like a mere man, yet He had the authority and power of God. He came in order to save man and to be the only Savior of mankind (Jn 20:30–31; Acts 4:12). As the Lord Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn 14:6).

Remember that we were once Gentiles in the flesh and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus we have been brought near by the blood of Christ on the cross and have become His children, receiving the abundance of life, partaking and enjoying the grace of the kingdom of heaven (Eph 2:11–13; Rom 5:11).

In the past, the chosen people did not receive the Word with faith, so they could not enter His rest. Today, if we neglect so great a salvation, we will surely drift away. This salvation was first spoken of by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by the apostles and prophets. God also bore witness to this, both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Heb 2:1–4; 4:1-2).

The Spirit Is Also the Truth (1 Jn 5:6–7)

The truth and the Spirit are one, and the word of God is the sword of the Spirit. Only the word that is in line with the truth enables one to receive the Holy Spirit; the Spirit can also help one to understand the truth (Eph 6:17; 1:13; Jn 14:16–17). The Lord Jesus told His disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (Jn 16:13).

Paul also said: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance” (Eph 1:13–14).

Some people think that as long as they possess good academic qualifications, have a wealth of knowledge, or are proficient in the original Biblical languages, they would be able to understand the Holy Bible in-depth. Little do they know that God often hides these things from those who think themselves wise and prudent, such that “they always go astray in their heart,” and they do not know God’s ways (Heb 3:10). They may see, but they do not understand; God only reveals these things to those who are humble like babes (Mt 11:25–26; Mt 13:13–15).

“The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, ‘Read this, please.’ And he says, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’ Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, ‘Read this, please.’ And he says, ‘I am not literate.’” (Isa 29:11–12)

Although Paul was knowledgeable, he did not dare to declare the great mystery of God with excellence of speech or of wisdom. Instead, Paul spoke in words that the Holy Spirit taught, explaining and comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Cor 2:1–2, 11–13). He clearly understood that no man “knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him. Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:10–11).

The Consistency of the Truth

Truth transcends space and time and is always consistent. For example, after Adam was created, he was tempted and sinned. However, because of the saving grace that was accomplished through Jesus on the cross, all mankind were redeemed from sin, and regained their glorious hope and identity as God’s children.

The Old Testament accounts of God clothing Adam with the skin of animals, Abel offering the firstborn of the flock and its fat, Noah offering clean animals as a burnt offering, Moses offering sacrifices to God on Mount Sinai and using the blood of cattle and sheep to make a covenant with God’s people are consistent with the truth that points to the cross of Christ's salvation. In addition, the sprinkling of the blood of cattle and sheep onto the bodies of the people, Noah’s flood, and the Israelites’ crossing of the Red Sea, all prefigure the receiving of the forgiveness of sins through baptism by immersion (1 Pet 3:21; 1 Cor 10:1–2).

Before the priest administered at the altar, he had to first wash himself with water, anoint himself with oil and change into a new robe. This tells us that one who wishes to draw near to God must first accept water baptism, receive the Holy Spirit, and be born again before he is eligible to serve the Lord and offer himself as a living sacrifice (Lev 8:6–13; Acts 2:37–39).

The Old Testament laws, including the sacrificial rituals, the dietary rules, health regulations, rules for cleansing, feasts of the New Moon, and so on, are a shadow of the good things to come, not the realities themselves. The New Testament is the ultimate reality, of which Jesus Christ Himself is the embodiment (Rom 10:4; Heb 10:1; Col 2:17; Mt 5:17–18).

Hence, we can see that the chosen people of the Old Testament and the disciples of the New Testament were all looking forward to the salvation of Jesus Christ (Jn 8:56). “The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor 15:21–22, 45).

The author of Hebrews enumerated the heroes of faith of the past and came to the following conclusion: “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us” (Heb 11:39–40).

God’s Purpose in Revealing the Truth

To Lead Man to Salvation (Ps 25:5)

Moses said: “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Ps 90:10). Our life on earth is indeed short and filled with sorrow. Yet God promises us eternal life in the kingdom of God if we accept His word. As the apostle Peter has said: “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you (1 Pet 1:23–25).

God has revealed the truth to us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16). Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, giving us an abundant and beautiful life and a living hope. And the end of our faith is the salvation of our souls (1 Pet 1:3–4, 9).

As the Lord Jesus Himself has said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. … I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:9–10).

Paul understood the role to which God had called him—he was to be a minister to the Gentiles according to the stewardship from God, and to preach the whole truth as revealed by God. Therefore, he encouraged himself, telling himself that he was to warn every man and teach every man in all wisdom, that every man might be presented perfect in Christ Jesus (Col 1:25, 28).

To Sanctify Man and Set Him Free (Jn 17:17)

Paul spoke of his diligence and blamelessness in observing the law before he received the grace of salvation. Yet his conscience always pricked him: “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. … I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” This was because he was “carnal, sold under sin” (Rom 7:14–19). But he thanked God that through Jesus Christ our Lord he was able to escape from sin, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus had made him free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2).

Those who commit sin are slaves to sin. The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one; all who live in the world sin and are slaves to sin (1 Jn 5:19). But the Lord Jesus said to the Jews who believed in Him: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn 8:31–32).

We have been called by the Lord and live under His grace; sin shall no longer have dominion over us. As long as we set our minds on the things of the Spirit and act in obedience to the Spirit, presenting our bodies as instruments of righteousness to God, we will surely triumph over evil, lust and the world. Our lives will be transformed and renewed; we shall bear the fruit of the Spirit and gradually become sanctified (Rom 7:18–25, 6:11–14; Gal 5:22–23).

To Set the Standard of Judgment (Rom 2:2, 8)

The truth is God’s standard of judgment (Rom 2:6), and there is no partiality with Him. He will surely render to each one according to his deeds, and will grant eternal life to those who, by patient continuance in doing good, seek for glory, honor, and immortality (Rom 2:7), while those who do not believe the truth but have pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned (2 Thess 2:12).

The Lord Jesus affirmed that we shall be judged by His words. He said: “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (Jn 12:47–48). Jesus also said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. … Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Mt 7:21, 24–25).

In addition, James tells us that it is not enough to simply listen to the word; we ought to put what we hear into practice: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only”, for such “will be blessed” in what they do. God’s word is like a mirror, reflecting our imperfections. We need to look into this mirror and change ourselves, gradually becoming holy and complete, without spot and blemish, so that we will be able to face our Lord in peace (Jas 1:21–25; 2 Pet 3:14).

The Truth as Received by the True Jesus Church

Paul tells us that the church is the house of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). He has also said that the church is the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone (Eph 2:19–20).

The True Jesus Church was established by the Holy Spirit Himself, which shows that the doctrines of our church have their origins in God’s revelation. This is similar to the case of Paul: the gospel preached by him also came through the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11–12).

The True Jesus Church has always adopted a very cautious attitude in examining the truth and has always judged matters based on the Bible. In the history of the church, there have been disagreements with our church doctrines, resulting in strong challenges and even contradictory claims, but those that lacked biblical support or were inconsistent with the truth have disappeared into oblivion like a gust of wind.

Guarding Against False Teachings and Defending the Truth

Recognizing the Ploys of the Devil

The Bible says: “The devil…was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (Jn 8:44).

In ancient times, Satan used the serpent to deceive Eve, deliberately twisting and changing God’s words. God told Adam, “…of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). But the serpent said, “You will not surely die” (Gen 3:4) and added, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5). Satan, on the one hand, changed God’s words, and on the other, deliberately sowed discord between man and God. This caused Eve to lose faith in the words of God and led her to fall into temptation. This is the ploy Satan usually uses to deceive people.

During the last days of the apostolic church, the devil seized the opportunity to sow tares among the wheat through false teachers and false apostles, who preached heresies and adulterated the word of God. For example, they taught that Gentile believers had to be circumcised and keep the law, forbade marriage and commanded people to abstain from certain foods. They also preached many other heretical teachings that appeared to be true but were not (cf. Acts 15:1; 1 Tim 4:1–3; 2 Tim 2:18). Paul encouraged the elders at Ephesus, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock… [for] savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:28–30).

Distinguishing Between True and False Teachings

Our Lord Jesus repeatedly reminded the disciples that in the end times, false christs and false prophets would rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Mt 24:4–5, 24). The apostles also repeatedly warned: “… that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thess 2:3). Moreover, the Spirit has expressly said “that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1).

In times when heretical teachings prevail, the saints must weigh carefully what is said so that they themselves are not confused. Apostle John encourages us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn 4:1). Below are some basic principles we can use to distinguish between truth and heresy.

(1) Is it in accordance with the Bible?

The Bible is the word of God and is the only standard by which to judge right from wrong. Any gospel other than the gospel that was preached by the apostles is heresy (Gal 1:6–9). Men should seek the law and the testimony; if they do not speak according to God’s word, it is because there is no light in them (Isa 8:20).

“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. … If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” (2 Jn 9–11)

(2) How does it view the true church?

The true church was established by the Holy Spirit. It possesses the full gospel of salvation and is the ark of the last days. This is an indisputable truth, as explained earlier. If what is preached is truth, it will surely be at one with the beliefs of the true church, and will surely be at one with us in spirit (Jn 10:16). Even in Satan's kingdom, there is no division and dispute (Mt 12:25–26); what more, then, for truth which originates from the same Holy Spirit? Can truth be at odds with itself? (Eph 4:3–4; 1 Jn 2:19; 1 Cor 14:32–33). Apostle John said, “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us” (1 Jn 4:6).

(3) Redeeming the lost sheep with love

“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Tim 2:24–26)

The church applies certain procedures and principles in dealing with teachings that are contrary to the truth. There is no room for compromise when distinguishing right from wrong. However, we should admonish and exhort in love those who have wandered from the truth, pray for them and try to restore them. Moreover, we should consider ourselves lest we too be affected. Judas betrayed the Lord out of his greed for money, yet the Lord Jesus never ceased to warn and exhort him; He even washed his feet and tried His best to turn him back. But Judas refused to turn back and in the end, Jesus could only say to him, “What you do, do quickly” (Jn 13:27). We also ought to play our part and try to restore the lost ones, then entrust them to God and pray for the Lord’s mercy. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth (2 Cor 13:8).


Let us, therefore, build up ourselves on our most holy faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, keep ourselves in the love of God, and look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Jude 20–21). Amen.

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Author: Jonathan Chou