from a sermon by Aun Quek Chin—Singapore
The year 2017 was the centenary of the
True Jesus Church. In 1917, through the downpour of the Holy Spirit, God
established the True Jesus Church in China. Very quickly, the gospel was
preached throughout China, as well as to Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and other
countries. Today, though the growth and development of our churches vary from
country to country, we are thankful that the True Jesus Church is now planted
in more than sixty-five countries across six continents. We firmly believe that
despite the obstructions and difficulties we face, God will guide us through
the stormy waters and give us victory at the end.
THE NEXT STEPS
Although we know it is God’s will for
the True Jesus Church to be victorious, it is our duty to self-reflect and
consider how we should proceed as a church beyond our centenary. Which
direction should we move towards? Which way is the right way? How do we break
through all these challenges in our path? How do we renew ourselves and
rejuvenate our faith? Here are five things we should do that will serve us well
in our journey as a church, until we reach our destination.
Keep to the Old Ways
Some members may
think that the church should change with the times. They observe that other
churches are always teaching new messages and revising their stances on topical
issues in order to stay relevant, whereas we in the True Jesus Church seem
stuck in our old ways. In this age, it is indeed not a bad thing to be creative
and innovative. In various fields, such as industry and education, society is
pushing for new and better ways of thinking and doing things. In a church
setting, we could adopt this approach by delivering sermons in a more engaging
way, ensuring the message is relevant to members living in this modern age. But
this mindset of innovation should only go so far. Let us examine what God said
through the prophet Jeremiah:
Thus says the LORD:
“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths,
where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for
But they said, ‘We will not
walk in it.’
Also, I set watchmen over you,
‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not
Therefore hear, you nations,
And know, O congregation, what
is among them.
Hear, O earth!
Behold, I will certainly bring
calamity on this people—
The fruit of their thoughts,
Because they have not heeded My
Nor My law, but rejected
it." (Jer 6:16–19)
nowadays desire novelty and new ideas, God instructs His people to ask for the
old paths, where the good way is. How do we know that the old path is truly the
good way? Because our predecessors and the saints walked it before us and
emerged victorious. Abraham is a prime example; he and his descendants believed
in God’s word and walked in the tried and tested paths, according to God’s
commands. In the end, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham, bringing his
descendants out of Egypt and into Canaan as a great nation. God’s promises have
never, and will never, change. If we follow in the footsteps of the saints, we
will see these promises unfold as they did in times past. The question is, can
we hold fast to the old paths?
context, to what do the old paths refer? They refer to the truth that was once
and for all committed to the saints by the Lord Jesus; the truth comprises His
teachings and the ways of the apostles that have been clearly recorded in the
As the world
changes, so will our approach and methods within church work. For example, the
church has made leaps and bounds using the internet ministry for evangelism and
pastoral purposes. However, those who seek novel concepts and new biblical
interpretations may have already started upon a new path; on closer examination
of their beliefs, they may have already strayed far away from the one true God.
Even after one hundred years, we must keep to the old paths that our
Learn from the Acts of the
How do we know
in which direction the church should proceed? We must use the Acts of the
Apostles, also known as the Acts of the Church, as our compass. The focus of
Acts is not on the apostles’ endeavors; rather, from the first chapter to the
last, the book focuses on the establishment and development of the church.
"The former account I
made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day
in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given
commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented
Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them
during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of
God." (Acts 1:1–3)
Luke begins the
Book of Acts by recounting how, for forty days, the Lord Jesus appeared to His
disciples and spoke about the kingdom of God. He ends his account with Paul
“preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord
Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (Acts 28:31).
At this point,
Paul was under house arrest in Rome, with a soldier for protection. Yet,
miraculously, he was allowed to receive guests in his rented house, and thus
continue the work of preaching. Roman law permitted such an arrangement, so
Paul’s opponents could not hinder him from spreading the gospel. Through these
amazing circumstances, the church in Rome was established.
worker of God was bound in chains, the word of God could never be bound; this
is the conclusion that the Acts of the Apostles imprints on our minds. An
entire book concerning the church of God was written so that we in this current
generation can understand how the church was formed, and how she progressed
despite tribulation. The church was challenged by heresies creeping in, members
turning apostate, and persecution from all sides. But reading this history, one
lesson is clear for the church today: we need not worry; the Holy Spirit
Himself will comfort us and help us to flourish. All we must do is rely
wholeheartedly on His guidance.
Hold Fast to Pure Teachings
There is an
important question we should consider. Can the church today continue to hold
fast to the pure teachings and the truth originally preached? The stance of the
True Jesus Church has always been that we must be completely aligned with the
Bible; we should seek to follow the blueprint of the early apostolic church—the
image of the ideal church—as presented in the Book of Acts.
Today, some may
argue that times have changed and the apostolic church is an outdated model.
Indeed, methods of church administration will necessarily adapt to changing
times, but the founding principles of the apostolic church remain timeless. The
truth preached by the apostles cannot be altered by changing societal
attitudes. After all, the apostles did not invent this truth, so it is not a
product of their era. The apostles’ message is the faith that was once for all
committed to them by the Lord Jesus; it is the unchanging truth that remains
relevant throughout the ages. The instruction of Jesus in Matthew 28:20,
“[teach] them to observe all things which I have commanded you—and lo, I am
with you always, even to the end of age,” was not just directed to the
disciples of that time, but also to all future believers.
If we are indeed
believers of Christ and of the true church, then we should follow the
instructions of the Lord Jesus as the apostles did. We should emulate the
apostles, who sacrificed their all for the word of God and contended earnestly
for the faith. When opposed by the rulers and elders of Israel, they boldly
declared: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than
to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and
heard” (Acts 4:19b–20). In addition, they were very faithful in teaching the
word of God, devoting themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of
the word (Acts 6:4). Finally, they were willing to suffer for His ministry.
Enduring physical violence, imprisonment, and the threat of death, they did not
waver in their faith and held fast to Jesus’ teachings.
Today, in which
direction should the church proceed? All we must do is follow in the direction
set by the Acts of the Apostles.
Be Led by the Holy Spirit
The Acts of the
Apostles is also known as the Acts of the Holy Spirit because it records how
the Holy Spirit personally led the church. In Acts 2, we read how the Holy
Spirit pricked the hearts of the Jews listening to Peter’s message, resulting
in the baptism of about three thousand people. In Acts 3, because the Holy
Spirit worked through Peter and John to heal a lame beggar, more than five
thousand came to believe. This was how the church in Jerusalem was established.
Some wonder how
the apostolic church could have flourished with just twelve apostles and seven
deacons. Even by the standards of the time, they were not a very talented
bunch; yet, because they were faithful to God, the Holy Spirit worked mightily
through them. Though the ability to speak is necessary, the presence of the
Holy Spirit is even more essential if the workers are to touch the hearts of
events recorded in Acts 10, the Jews had been unable to accept that Gentiles
could become the children of Abraham and receive God’s inheritance. The apostles
understood, theoretically, that they were Abraham’s children not through
circumcision but through belief in Jesus and baptism. But they did not have the
courage to confirm their belief through action and bring the message to the
However, in Acts
10, the Holy Spirit led a breakthrough by inspiring Peter to go to the house of
Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile. Peter himself was still doubtful, but as he
preached to Cornelius and his family, he was reassured when God bestowed the
Holy Spirit upon the Gentile listeners.
Later, when Peter
was criticized for having gone to Cornelius' house, he testified that these
Gentiles had received the same gift that they had at the beginning: they spoke
in tongues. There was no way Peter could prevent them from being baptized. If
it were not for the work of the Holy Spirit, how could there have been such a
breakthrough? How could Peter have persuaded the stubborn Jews to open the door
for the Gentiles?
Today, many doors are difficult to open. One
of the toughest doors to open is the hearts of men. Some open their hearts and
then shut them again. They repent, then return to sin. They believe and then
they leave. Though these are hard doors to pry open, we can only do our best to
preach the gospel, and the Holy Spirit will lead us in our efforts.
Acts 15 records
an incident of another nature—one concerning the truth. Some Jewish believers
still insisted on circumcising Gentile believers, causing a divide in the
apostolic church. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, this problem was given
a final resolution (Acts 15:28–29).
The church today will likewise be required to
handle tricky questions and dilemmas when it comes to practicing the truth.
When such situations occur, we must learn from the example of the incident in
Acts 15 and wholly rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Treat Prayer as a Service
Last but not
least, in order for us to progress after our centenary, let us not be
ambivalent towards prayer. Some of us may be ill or elderly and unable to do
much church work, but at the very least, we can pray. Then there are those who
do much church work, but do not consider prayers to be a form of service. Paul
emphasized the importance of supporting the workers through prayer, noting to
[You also helped] together in prayer for us, that thanks may be
given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many. (2
How can we help the church and aid the church
workers? Apart from offering our services and strength, we must also offer our
prayers. When we pray with all our heart, it represents our total reliance on
God’s guidance in the development of the church. Prayer can be accomplished by
any believer and is a service we must not neglect.
God has led us thus far over the past
century, and will continue to do so in the next if we play our part well. While
having faith that God will cause His church to flourish, we must continue to
walk in the old paths of the saints and rely on the guidance of the Holy
Spirit. More importantly, we should pray that God preserves our own faith, so
that we, as individuals, will not waver in our beliefs and can lead future
generations to hold fast to the truth. The Holy Spirit will assuredly complete
His work of perfecting the true church.