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 (Manna 74: Standing Firm)
Hold Fast to the Truth
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Hold Fast to the Truth

Based on a sermon by Aun-Quek Chin—Singapore

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)

When Paul wrote 2 Timothy, he knew that this would be his final letter. In his parting words to the leaders and the believers of the church, he urged them to hold fast the pattern of sound words. He himself was more than qualified to give this exhortation: for the sake of upholding the truth, Paul surrendered the status he once had in the Jewish community and the privileges it conferred; he lost his friends among the Pharisees; and eventually, he even lost his life. Yet Paul never regretted the course he took and was able to boldly proclaim at the end, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness” (2 Tim 4:7–8).

What about us? Can we hold fast to the truth that we have received? Can we finish the race, fight the good fight, and face our Lord, blameless like Paul?


Today, every Christian claims Jesus as their only Lord and Savior and upholds the commandment to love one another, which are certainly important aspects of the truth. But how many hold fast to the Lord’s commandment to be baptized, have our feet washed, and partake in the Holy Communion? Not that many.

In the early church, the apostles—Peter, Paul, and John—preached the same truth of salvation, a common set of beliefs that all the churches adhered to. However, before long, others began preaching a different gospel. This was why Paul wrote to encourage Timothy, as well as the other believers, to hold fast the pattern of sound words that they had heard.

To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. (Tit 1:4)

Paul says that Titus was a true son born of the gospel and emphasizes that he came to believe because of their “common faith.” The latter would have gone beyond just believing that Jesus was their Savior and keeping His command to love others. We know this to be the case because we see Paul asking the believers in his days, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2), and “Into what [baptism] then were you baptized?” (Acts 19:3). We also see that he instructed the church in Corinth to partake the Holy Communion in a worthy manner (1 Cor 11:27–29). All these matters were core elements of the common faith preached and meticulously perpetuated by the early workers.


“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Mt 28:19–20)

From Jesus’ words, we understand that Christians of all generations have to obey Jesus’ teachings. He further teaches that not all those who call Him, “Lord! Lord!” will be saved, but only those who do the will of the heavenly Father and keep the Lord’s command (Mt 7:21).

The phrase “to the end of the age” tells us that the truth cannot be changed. Nothing can be added or taken away to fit a new era or to please a new generation. Christians should continuously adhere to the teachings that the apostles had received from Jesus. Hence, Jude reminds us “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Yet today, many Christians do not completely obey the Lord Jesus and His commands relating to baptism, Holy Communion, footwashing, and receiving the Holy Spirit because they consider these as “mere” doctrines. To them, it is the gospel, not the doctrines, that saves.

However, we must understand that the apostles preached what the Lord Jesus had commanded. The Lord commanded them to conduct baptism (Mt 28:19; Mk 16:15–16), Holy Communion (Lk 22:14–20), footwashing (Jn 13:1–17), and to pray for the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4–5). He set an example for them in keeping the Sabbath holy (cf. Lk 4:166:6,9,5). Hence, the gospel of the cross includes all the teachings and doctrines that Jesus commanded through word and deed. We cannot separate the gospel from the doctrines, for they are one. So we need to ask ourselves: do we believe in the complete gospel and preach it?

Today, the five doctrines preached by the True Jesus Church are the commandments of Jesus. These were the words that the apostles had been preaching and keeping, and we should do likewise to the end of the age.


(a) Follow the Word of God and Not of Men

How do we maintain this pattern of sound words? Paul encourages us to have faith in Christ Jesus. This means that we have to establish Jesus Christ as our foundation and obey His words. The challenge is, if the words we hear from people around us are different from what Jesus taught, who do we choose to accept?

The Lord says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16).
But people may say, “Belief is the most important thing, because it is your faith which saves; whether you are baptized or not is irrelevant.”

The Lord says, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (Jn 13:8).
People may say, “The Lord did not wash the apostles’ feet so that they will have a part in Him. Rather, it was to teach them to wash their feet so that they will be humble and will forgive one another.”

The Lord says, “You have to pray for the promised Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:4–5). When you receive the Holy Spirit, you will speak in tongues (cf. Acts 2:1–4). And speaking in tongues is the evidence that you have received the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:14–21). The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance in heaven (cf. Eph 1:13–14).”
People may say, “When we believed and at the point of baptism, we have already received the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues is just grace upon grace. If you can speak in tongues, it is good, but it is not necessary to enter heaven.”

When faced with such counter-arguments, will you have faith in Christ Jesus?

O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen. (1 Tim 6:20–21)

In the concluding verses of his letter to Timothy, Paul reminded Timothy to guard what was committed to his safekeeping, as some people were already straying from the truth. Today, when the church faces such a situation, can we too be good custodians of the truth?

(b) Pass on a Pure Faith

Upholding the pure truth is so very important because failure to do so means that we can no longer pass on a pure faith to the next generation. If we cannot even hold fast to the truth, then what we pass on will no longer be a pure faith. Such faith can save neither us nor the generations after us. This is how devastating a heretical faith can be.

(c) Commit the Pattern of Sound Words to Faithful Men

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim 2:2)

Just as Paul instructed Timothy to commit the truth to faithful men who can teach others, so the church today needs to do likewise to ensure that the believers are not led astray by errant teachings.

For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. (Tit 1:10–11)

Paul was not referring to matters outside the church. There were people in the church who taught “things which they ought not,” subverting whole households. If this happens within the church today, ministers have to deal with such matter.

(d) Stewards Must Defend the Truth

For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

(Tit 1:7–9)

It is important for a steward of God to have good conduct. But more crucially, he must be able to “hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught” (Tit 1:9) and to teach it to others. And should the truth be challenged, he must step forward to defend it.
How should ministers of the church handle such situations?

… that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort … (Tit 1:9)

When someone has been deceived by deviant teachings, ministers should use sound doctrine to admonish him so that he can come to differentiate truth from falsehood. Ministers must also “convict those who contradict” (Tit 1:9b), telling them clearly that their teachings are wrong.

Ministers ought not shy away from such duties and keep silent, lest the congregation think that the deviant teachings are acceptable. Those who contradict are not subject to the truth. They think that the truth is wrong, hence the need to convict them. Their errors must be corrected.

In addition, Paul encourages ministers to execute their authority as God’s stewards. If believers are no longer willing to subject themselves to what is right in the house of God and spread deviant teachings, ministers have to use their authority to stop them.

This may lead to unpleasant backlashes, but as God’s faithful stewards, they need to stop wrong teachings. Therefore, Paul stresses that the Lord’s servants must faithfully fulfill their duty. They must exhort those who are deceived, convict those who contradict, and put a stop to the actions of those who are insubordinate.

If anyone continues to teach heresies that destroy the faith of the church, then ministers ought to put a stop to his mouth (Tit 1:11) and not allow him to continue to preach. In Titus 1:13, Paul even says, “Therefore rebuke them sharply.” Such harsh action is necessary given the far reaching impact, which adversely affects the salvation of several generations.

Thus, members need to understand the role and responsibility of God’s stewards and why they have to exhort, convict, and silence those who spread heresies. Their duty is to shepherd the flock of God and protect their faith; if they shirk this responsibility, how would they give an account to the Lord? When we understand these facts, we will not assume that ministers are abusing their power. Instead, we will work in one accord with them to overcome deviant teachings and to stand fast in the truth.


Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.” (Jn 14:23–24)

We may claim that our love for Christ has never changed, but is our attitude towards the word of God the same as before (1 Jn 2:24–26)? Apostle John said that if we hold fast to what we have heard at the beginning, we are in Christ, because our love towards Christ has not changed. Conversely, if we listen to the words of man and are drawn away by wrong teachings, we are no longer faithful to the Lord or to His words that we had received at the beginning.


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. For I know this, that after my departure 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. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

(Acts 20:28–31)

In this farewell address to the Ephesian elders, Paul warned against men who would rise up from within the church to destroy the faith of the believers. Today, we must constantly watch and pray, and ask God for discernment. We must hold fast the pattern of sound words to safeguard not only our own salvation but also the salvation of future generations.

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Author: Aun-Quek Chin