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 (Manna 85: TJC at 100 – Towards the Triumphant Church)
Revive the True Church (Part 2)
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Adapted from sermons by Barnabas Chong—Singapore

Editor’s note: In part 1 of this article series, we learned how, as the revived apostolic church, the True Jesus Church should follow in the same spirit of faithfulness towards God’s word, His Holy Spirit and our commission. In this final instalment, the author shares three more areas in which we should emulate the early apostolic church, as we strive towards perfection.

What does it mean to be God’s true church? Certain things come to mind: to have the truth that saves, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the commission to preach the true gospel. While we may bear all these hallmarks, is it possible that after a century on earth, the True Jesus Church today has retained the form but not the soul of God’s true church?

It is clear to many of us in the True Jesus Church that we belong to something special. God’s guidance and concern for His church are evident in the way we have pulled through decades of challenges to establish ourselves across the world. Coupled with the biblical promise that God will preserve His true church, the True Jesus Church seems secure. Unfortunately, some have been lulled into believing that they need not serve God and His church, for the True Jesus Church will always thrive regardless.

These individuals are not entirely wrong. There was a time when Mordecai reminded Esther that even if she did not lend her help to God’s people, “relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place….Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Est 4:14). We are all in Esther’s position today. There is no question that the True Jesus Church will prosper. What remains to be seen is whether we will be counted among those who helped her prosper. This is a question only you can answer for yourself.

If we are willing, then there is much work to be done. What should we work on?


Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. (Acts 9:31)

At a wedding banquet I once attended, several True Jesus Church youths went on stage to present some songs for the newlyweds. Soon after, the wedding emcee said in his speech, “We would like to thank the True Jesus Church youths for putting on a performance for us.”

An elderly sister sitting at a table with me and several deacons looked at us, appalled, and asked incredulously, “Can we use the name of the True Jesus Church like this?” After having reassured her that this was no severe misuse of the church’s name, my fellow ministers and I marveled at this sister’s God-fearing faith. So reverent was she that a passing remark most of us would have ignored brought out in her a fierce protectiveness over the sanctity of God’s affairs. This sister embodies one of the defining features of the apostolic church that we would do well to emulate: a God-fearing faith.

In the verse above, it is clear that “walking in the fear of the Lord” is one of the main reasons why the church population “multiplied.” Why is it so important to fear the Lord?

Firstly, God wants us to fear Him because He wants us to truly love Him. When we come to church to worship, or when we pray alone at home, we intuitively adopt the mannerisms of reverence. Outwardly, we are all pictures of piety—standing solemnly as we sing hymns or nodding attentively as we listen to sermons—no one doubts our worship. But all too often, our hearts are filled with impurities of all stripes: greed, jealously, spite, anger…the list continues. We cannot truly worship and love God, whether in public or in solitude, if we do not first recognize the importance of being honest with Him. Honesty means addressing any negative emotions and thoughts we might be harboring inside us, asking God to pardon and give us the strength to overcome these evils so that we may worship Him with greater sincerity. The importance of this is clear in the well-known story of Ananias and Sapphira, whom God punished for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1–10). When we deceive ourselves in this way, hoping to go through the motions of worship or do the minimum, we doubt God’s ability to see through our facades; we do not show adequate fear, or love, of the Lord.

God wants us to fear Him, but not because He needs to be reminded of His power. Instead, God wants us to be honest with Him because He wants to form loving relationships with His chosen people. The meteoric success of the early church, as well as the tragedy of Ananias and Sapphira, teaches us just how important it is to fear God, and to love Him in faith and truth.


[T]hey will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mk 16:18)

The faith of the early apostolic church was very special by today’s standards.

The Acts of the Apostles records the fascinating story of Tabitha, a disciple of Jesus who had passed away. Instead of immediately arranging her burial, the believers turned to the apostle Peter, so that he might bring a dear friend back to life through God’s grace. As expected, Peter came at their request and, after a prayer, God raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36–42).

We may read such biblical accounts of miracles and marvel at our forefathers’ faith and power. Even as we encourage one another to emulate them, these encouragements remain in the realm of the hypothetical. We never literally believe in, or promote, having the faith to perform miracles. The story above is short and simple, but it says so much about what true faith is. The God of Peter is the God of the True Jesus Church today; the Holy Spirit is one and the same; our truth is one and the same. What has changed between then and now is how courageous we are in our faith. There is a difference between having a faith that is aware of miracles as a possibility, and a faith that knows a miracle is but a sincere prayer away. Our forebears in the early apostolic church knew that they needed only to ask, and they would see God’s active presence in their lives.

Today, what holds us back from being a church filled with power is a lack of courage. We fear the dreaded uncertainty of possible failure. The embarrassment of a failed public healing is too overwhelming, too ruinous for our credibility as Spirit-filled Christians. So we comfort ourselves with the unspoken, underlying belief that past miracles were exceptional cases involving exceptional men. We tell ourselves that the ordinary believer has no ability and, therefore, no obligation to have such a courageous, powerful faith.

Another common obstruction to true faith is telling ourselves that we are in no position to force our will upon God. Although this is true, it does not mean we cannot have hope in our faith. It is not humility that prevents us from bringing our entreaties to our heavenly Father, and expecting Him to act for us according to His will; rather, it is our lack of courage.

This is a larger problem than we might perceive it to be. We live in an age of solutions. Advances in medicine and technology have improved our lives immeasurably. The role of prayer, and to some extent, of God, is reserved for those problems whose solutions we cannot find in the pharmacy or the app store. We may, for instance, pray for the general blessings of a safe and secure future. We may even pray for healing when medicine does not work. But most of us would likely depend more on the pill and the syrup than on a fifteen-minute prayer. “God helps those who help themselves,” we say. When we justify our lack of faith with seemingly innocent, even biblical, reasons, we allow cowardice to creep into other parts of our Christian lives. A faith unwilling to proclaim a beloved brother or sister healed is also a faith afraid of proclaiming the gospel to the world. Like the apostles and believers in the early church, we ought to develop a more courageous faith, that by the grace of God, we may be proof of His kingdom on earth.


Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. (Acts 2:44–45)

Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. (Acts 4:34–35)

Of the three areas in need of revival, following the economic example of the early apostolic church might appear to be the most drastic. The truth is, this example of the early church is more necessary than we think. It is difficult to imagine successfully convincing a twenty-first-century congregation to sell all their possessions and to pool the proceeds for everyone to share. I do not believe, however, that the early apostolic church was setting communitarianism as an ideal model in the economic sense. As difficult as forming such a self-sacrificial economic community may seem, forming a self-sacrificial spiritual community is much harder, but also much more important.

By selling all they had and sharing in the proceeds, the early Christians were not simply giving up money, privacy or financial security and freedom. They were giving up something much more significant: their old ways of living. The early believer, having sold everything he had and offering it to God, was offering himself to be part of a spiritual community with fellow followers of Jesus. By relinquishing their possessions and their wealth, they were renouncing what remained of their ties to the world; though individually they had nothing left, together, as a church, they lacked nothing. It is easy to see how the early apostolic church had established God’s kingdom on earth.

Reviving this sacrificial spirit would demand the most from us. Today, we are not asked to sell our possessions and share them with the people we call brothers and sisters. Instead, we keep what we have earned and offer tithes to God, retaining a comfortable measure of personal freedom and security. What is worrying, however, is how these possessions have come to reflect an investment in, and a bond to, the world outside the church, of which we are unwilling to let go. Yet, when our eternal life could be lost, we ought to reassess our priorities. As Jesus succinctly said: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt 6:24b).

The first step to coming together as a community, to establish a heaven on earth, is to cultivate the habit of attending church services and being fully present during our worship. I have fond memories of when I was a youth, spending time in fellowship with brothers and sisters who have grown up with me and are still worshipping God by my side today. Even outside of service times, we would gather in church to study the Bible and spend time together. As we drew closer in fellowship with one another, we relinquished our ties to the world and strengthened our bond with God. Today, we do not need to be carefree youths, with spare time for impromptu Bible studies, in order to embody the same spirit of wholehearted worship and self-sacrifice. We need only put aside our worldly concerns to devote ourselves fully to each service we attend, and sincerely care for the wellbeing—spiritual, emotional, physical, material or otherwise—of our brethren. Then, we will truly be united as the body of Christ.


As a church, on the whole, there are many areas of service that can be improved. What is paramount amid all this talk of growth and revival is an honest examination of our individual, personal faith. By having a better understanding of where we stand before God, what we lack, and what we have done to please him, we can better strengthen those who fight the same spiritual battles by our side. Only then can we be more like the early church of old, and establish our heaven on earth.  

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Author: Barnabas Chong
Publisher: True Jesus Church