Adapted from a lecture series by Derren Liang—Irvine, California, USA
Editor’s note: This series provides insights on how we can share the doctrines of the True Jesus Church. The author offers tips on how to approach familiar topics, and to avoid certain pitfalls. It is hoped that our readers will be inspired to apply their knowledge to reach out to friends and relatives.
The Holy Spirit has revealed five basic doctrines to our church that are different from what other churches believe. A good way to share the beliefs of the True Jesus Church (TJC) is to further elaborate on these doctrines. Once our audience understands and believes, the next step can be to introduce the concept of the one true church. This is because, before someone understands the truth, it can be difficult for them to accept the teaching of the one true church. Once they have grasped the biblical truths, however, it is much easier for them to reach a natural conclusion about the necessity and identity of the one true church.
The Importance of the Basic Doctrines
Out of the many churches today, TJC is one of the few that remains insistent on placing emphasis on the significance of the basic doctrines of the Bible. For this reason, many denominations regard us as legalistic, preferring instead to emphasize the teaching of love over the other tenets of Christianity.
Why do we need to learn and uphold these basic doctrines? We need to place emphasis on biblical doctrines because Ephesians 1 says the church is the body of Christ which is filled with the fullness of God: “which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:23). Who is God? Undoubtedly, God is love, and it is not wrong for the church to teach and practice love because without it, God will not abide with us. However, as crucial as love is in Christianity, truth must equally be upheld.
When Jesus gave His final commission to the disciples, He told them to preach the gospel, telling them to “[Teach] them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). In light of this commandment, how can we ensure that God abides with the church? It is by teaching the believers to observe the teachings of Jesus and the apostles in the Bible.
Since God is truth, Spirit and love, His true church—the body of Christ—must likewise embrace all aspects of the gospel. When the teachings of the church are the same as the teachings of Jesus, God will be with us. God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit, and the truth are interconnected. When we preach the truth according to the Bible, the Holy Spirit will move together with us, helping us in our ministry and personal lives.
This is the reason why the TJC believes it is imperative to seriously study and practice biblical doctrines. The true church must practice a holistic Christianity that does not prefer one aspect of the teaching to another.
Benefits of Knowing the Doctrines
There are two important benefits of knowing the biblical doctrines: one is so that we can be rooted in faith, and the other is to enable us to be equipped for evangelism.
To Develop a Rooted Faith
We need to have a deeply rooted faith, fully knowing whom we believe. Only then can we stand firm and not waver when our faith is challenged. For instance, one perplexing challenge to our legitimacy is the question: if TJC is the only true church that will be saved, why is her membership so small? Here, it is important for us to know that attempting to ascertain whether a church has the truth on the basis of membership size is flawed. Especially since Jesus had already characterized the way to salvation as a narrow gate.
Today, there are “mega” churches that have thousands of members. But their approach to salvation is deliberately simplistic: they argue that all you need to do is to believe in your heart and confess with your lips to be saved. Furthermore, they offer little guidance with regards to Christian living. You rarely hear them teaching about the need to take up one’s cross in order to follow Christ. Rather, their message is often about how Christ is a never-ending source of material blessings. This is perhaps the quickest way to attract large masses of people.
Many churches are also hesitant to articulate a firm standpoint with regards to sin and doctrine. For example, they do not teach their believers to pray for the Holy Spirit, to be baptized, or to observe the Sabbath. If they teach such things, they will most likely lose members; likewise, if they take a stand against common, socially-accepted sins. For this reason, they will not talk about abortion, homosexuality, or divorce.
Hence, when assessing the legitimacy of a church, we should not use membership volume as a measure. Whilst we certainly want more people to receive salvation, we cannot forfeit the “harder” truths of Christianity and speak only of the more pleasant parts of Christ’s gospel.
We need to be familiar with the basic doctrines so that we can be steadfast in our faith. The greater the depth of our understanding, the more we will cherish the truth of God’s true church.
We have seen that there are members who feel the need to modify the truth, most likely because they find it hard to preach the complete gospel in the face of opposition, and think that by changing the Bible’s message, it will be more palatable. However, if we preach a modified doctrine, will God abide with the church?
To Be Equipped for Evangelism
It is important to know the basic doctrines because they are essential for evangelism. When some believers preach, they spend a lot of time sharing their testimonies. There is nothing wrong with this per se; indeed, testimonies are powerful instruments to highlight the grace of God. However, we should not rely on using testimonies alone.
If we look at the approach of the disciples, we see that they preached the doctrine they had received from Christ while God affirmed their message with signs and miracles. We need to do likewise so that people can develop firm roots in their faith. If they come to understand the truth, they will quite naturally experience God for themselves. On the other hand, if they only know about the experiences of others without understanding the truth, the substance of their faith, they could quite easily fall away.
Therefore, we must pair our powerful testimonies of Christ’s grace in our lives with the doctrines that He has handed down to us through the Holy Spirit. The truth is the path to salvation and this is why the basic doctrines are important.
Preaching the Doctrines
Case Study on Romans 10:10
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Many Christians, quoting Romans 10:10, claim that as long as we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth, we can be saved. The scene of Christian evangelists who rouse their audiences at evangelistic rallies to raise their hands if they believe in Jesus is a common sight. These mass conversions and affirmations of faith are certainly inspiring and moving to many who witness them. However, is their approach adequate? What is missing from the messages given out at such evangelistic events?
They simply lack any regard for the concrete directives of Jesus to do certain things in order to participate in the salvation of Christ. To take one such doctrine as an example, Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5).
We do not deny Paul’s words in Romans 10:10. Indeed, it is an area of common ground we have with our Christian friends. However, we need to use the rest of the Bible to explain that believing in one’s heart and acknowledging Jesus with our lips is but the beginning of a person’s faith journey. From Jesus' words in John 3:5, we can show that one also needs to be born of water and the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God.
Many such clear and direct instructions given by Jesus are rarely mentioned by many churches. It would be a gross error to miss out on the commands of Jesus just because we prefer to only live according to some portions of the Bible.
To continue with this particular doctrine, our approach could be to ask our Christian friends to look at John 3:5 and to share what their understanding is. We should be prepared for various responses; for example, some Christians interpret being "born of water" to mean the physical birthing process (i.e., emergence from the mother’s womb and the surrounding amniotic fluid). At this point, we can point out the need to explain this verse using other parts of the Bible; otherwise everyone will interpret the Bible according to their personal understanding.
We can then signpost them to Titus 3:5, which explains the meaning of John 3:5:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. (Tit 3:5)
We can then explain that this Bible verse states that God saved us not because of our own righteousness; indeed, man is sinful by nature, and there is not one person who is righteous and able to attain to the standard of God. However, we can receive salvation because of God’s mercy. He has paved the way through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. These are the two steps that Jesus speaks of in John 3:5.
Of the five basic doctrines, the two key teachings relate to the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” The reason why TJC emphasizes these is because they are essential for salvation. For this reason, we must never compromise on these aspects of the truth but instead uphold them steadfastly.
To be continued.