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 (Manna 84: TJC at 100 – The Grace That Has Brought Us Here)
Straight From The Heart
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Joshua Phoong—Ipoh, Malaysia

Editors note: This article was adapted from a report written for the 2016 Holy Work Symposium held by the International Assembly of the True Jesus Church, which took place in Malaysia in March 2016.

Every True Jesus Church believer knows these facts:

Our Lord Jesus entrusted us with the commission to preach to all nations and make disciples of all men.

This divine commission is of utmost importance because once the true gospel of the kingdom has been spread throughout the world, our task is done and the world will end.

However, knowing these is insufficient. More crucially, how do we go about fulfilling this commission? As the True Jesus Church commemorates her centennial year, this is a pertinent question for us all. The signs that we have seen in recent times portend an imminent end. How can we accomplish this task of preaching to the whole world?

Half-Hearted Efforts?

World evangelism is a topic that has long been, and continues to be, widely discussed at many different levels within the True Jesus Church. We are, understandably, eager to live up to the role that our Lord has entrusted to us, so we strategize and craft ambitious plans. The strategic discussions we hold on world evangelism are appropriately expansive, with such titles as: Globalization and Prospects of the True Jesus Church and Global Evangelistic Strategies.

But after all the discussions, with our passionately articulated opinions recorded, what happens next? A quick scan will reveal that nothing much has changed over the years. The workers who were laboring in the fields years ago are the same few continuing today. What has happened to those ambitious plans that were discussed and presented to the church? 

We may point to the progress achieved. The church has produced a full range of evangelistic pamphlets, and a website accessible to the whole world. We have a handful of workers toiling hard to bring the gospel to those who have not yet heard the glad tidings. By Gods grace, we continue to have baptisms in pioneering areas. So whenever we report on gospel outreach, we roll out statistics on the number of services conducted, the number of service attendees, and maybe even the number of people baptized in these new areas. These reassure us that we are heavily engaged in world evangelism.  

But have we done everything we can? On honest and deeper reflection, we would admit that whatever we have done in world evangelism is only a token effort. There is a huge gap between planning and execution because of several factors: the lack of drive and passion, the lack of urgency, and the lack of sacrifice.

Problem 1: Lack of Drive and Passion

The problem is not a lack of awareness of our commission—we have read Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:16 umpteen times. Nor is it a lack of ability. We understand how to preach, learning from biblical examples as well as through experiences at work and in life. The first and fundamental problem is our lack of drive and passion to fulfill the commission. We do not possess the deep conviction of our earliest workers to spread the gospel.

This lack of drive can be seen at every level of the church organization. For instance:

1.  The International Assembly (IA) has held many discussions on evangelism. But the execution of evangelistic work is weak. Those who deliver impressive presentations on evangelism are nowhere to be found in pioneering fields. Besides orators and teachers, we most need laborers, and field supervisors who toil alongside and mobilize the laborers. We entrust the leadership of the church to the IA Executive Council. But how many of those elected to spearhead our evangelistic mission are out in the field? Are we, in our commitment to proclaim the gospel, an example to the flock?

2.  The general assemblies and coordination boards of the church are bogged down with a plethora of administrative and human issues. Planning often centers on solving administrative issues, and funds are channeled to physical assets. How much energy and resources are left over for preaching?

3.  Local churches are trying their best to keep up with the daily management of the church. These include the many services, fellowships and activities that are organized. It is no easy task to keep the structured program of the church running. But what about the immediate needs of sinners? Jesus Himself said, I must preach the kingdom to other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent (Lk 4:43).

4.  Our preachers appear misnamed for they are more like theological lecturers and researchers. What led to this? Is it the structure of the church organization? Is it the type of training we give them? Perhaps not enough effort has been put into the area of producing true evangelists.

5.  Our members enjoy edifying sermons week after week. But why have these words not had their intended life-changing effect, stirring us to arise and share these same words to our kith and kin?

Problem 2: Lack of Urgency

A second problem is our lack of urgency. We approach the work of evangelism as if the Lords coming is not imminent, as if we have plenty of time left to save souls. We do not wholeheartedly commit ourselves to the task. What we do accomplish appears to be done with just nominal effort, undertaken to placate our conscience. We comfort ourselves, saying, At least we have done something about the commission entrusted to us.

But do we realize and remember that every person who does not hear the gospel remains under the torturous burden of sin? Are we moved with compassionXas our Lord Jesus wasXwhen we see the multitude (Mt 9:36)?

We must arise quickly because there are perishing souls who await deliverance.

Problem 3: Lack of Love

A third problem is the lack of a true spirit of service and a selfless heart of sacrifice. Most of us live self-centered lives, where we aim to satisfy ourselves and the call of our flesh. In many ways, we are no different from the people of our times—heartless, selfish, complacent, and entrenched in our comfort zones (cf. 2 Tim 3:2).

These words may seem harsh and unfair, as many of our actions are borne out of personal choice. But this is an honest observation and evaluation of the actions that we exhibit. We can see the inner intents of the heart through our observable actionsXdo we act any differently from the world around us?

We are supposed to be a people who has been separated and chosen to be different from the world. As we have been enlightened by the Lord, we must understand the hope of His calling, and know the riches of the glory of His inheritance (Eph 1:18). Why then have we not responded in love, with haste and urgency, to the work of saving souls?

A Change of Heart

When Moses spoke to the people concerning the building of the tabernacle and the holy garments of the ministry, the response was immediate:

Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing; and they brought the LORDs offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. (Ex 35:21) 

The way ahead is clear. To get the church out of this crisis of evangelistic lethargy, all of us need a change of heart. Our hearts must once again be strongly stirred by the conviction that the world needs Gods word. We must constantly refresh our drive to share Gods word with all whom we meet. We must not allow our hearts to remain distant and numbed by the pleasures of the world.

This change of heart should happen at all levels of the church:

1.  The IA: Instead of conducting further workshops or developing new plans, we should revisit the decisions of past symposiums on evangelism  and implement them. The majority of the IA Executive Council are not involved in implementing the work of the IA. We have to enlist these ministers to work in the fields.

2.  The church: The church must be mission-driven, and we should identify leaders who can wholeheartedly focus on evangelism.

3.  Ministers: We must continue to stress the importance of personal evangelism to our members. Preachers must lead the work of evangelism.

The Bible warns us that those who know the Masters will but do not carry it out will be severely punished (Lk 12:47V48). No one can feign or claim ignorancethe onus is on us to know the will of the Master and to accomplish it. Only then can we claim to be wise stewards, pleasing to the Master who, in turn, will make us rulers in His household.

May the True Jesus Churchs one-hundredth year be the turning point in which we rekindle our zeal to fulfill Gods commission, and stir up selfless love for those lost in sin.

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Author: Joshua Phoong
Publisher: True Jesus Church
Date: 12/08/2017