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 (Manna 85: TJC at 100 – Towards the Triumphant Church)
God's Chosen Temple
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From a sermon by Barnabas Chong—Singapore


Long ago, Solomon built a grand temple dedicated to God. Soon after, God appeared to Solomon with some weighty words: 

Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” (2 Chr 7:12–16)

These magisterial words were God’s reply to Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6, a plea for God to remember His people and to be with them no matter what. Solomon was asking God to dwell with the children of Israel, with the temple as a symbol of this union. In a handful of powerful sentences, God accepted Solomon’s invitation.

Imagine what was going through Solomon’s mind. All that effort and sacrifice he had put into building the temple could have easily been for nothing if God had rejected it, as was His prerogative. But God accepted the efforts of His people and the dedication of the temple.

The True Jesus Church is that same spiritual temple today. Over many centuries, thousands of churches have sprung into existence and prominence in every corner of the earth. Yet, of all these churches, arrayed in architectural splendor, historical richness, and financial and social capital, God chose the humble True Jesus Church in which to dwell. We alone have been blessed with the Holy Spirit and the complete truth. This is a very important reminder of a very important lesson: the church, God’s church, is not made by the hands of men, but built and sustained by the grace of God. And so it has been these past hundred years, where God’s presence is undeniable in explaining how we have come so far with so little. God has accepted the True Jesus Church, and now dwells with us, and we give thanks.


There is more to be thankful for. God’s acceptance of the temple was not lightly done; it was also a promise. The temple was His house, and Israel His people—both of which He would watch over and protect. What did God mean when He said, “My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.… My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually”? It meant that when the Israelites eventually strayed, when Solomon himself strayed, and when the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, God did not forsake His covenant with His beloved. Even though the entire nation was conquered in punishment, and the symbol of Israel’s holy zeal—their grand temple—was brought to ruins, God would always watch over them. He would lead them, and work with His people to restore things to their former glory. Thus the temple was rebuilt and the Israelites brought back to their holy land, and God’s covenant with His beloved endured.

This is encouraging news for the True Jesus Church: God will always guide and take care of us. God’s promises will always be fulfilled. The True Jesus Church, having been accepted by God, will always be God’s chosen church. The promise goes further: with Jesus, we know that as long as we are willing to believe, God will give us His salvation grace. God has prepared it all for us. Now, therefore, we have more to be thankful for: God has prepared for us immeasurable grace, and as long as we persist in our faith, He will be with us for all time.


Elder John wrote: "I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father” (2 Jn 4). Just as he rejoiced, grateful for the continuation of the faith across generations, we also have good reason to rejoice today. Today, it requires herculean effort for one generation to pass on its beliefs to the next, much more so for a belief that requires as much devotion as Christianity. But, as promised, God watches over us. Through His grace, the church community has been effective in creating an environment of love and dedication within which our young can grow in their faith.

Just as the members in apostolic times, we are vulnerable to the temptations and pressures of the world. In the face of such forces, we are often left feeling confused and alone. It is in these times that we must give thanks. For it is when we are brought low that we are truly reminded of the value of our faith. Our defeats are the precious moments in which we rely on God once more, to see for ourselves what His promise—to the great kings and prophets of antiquity—looks like in our own lives.

The church, then, must become a refuge for the young. For the temple where God dwells is also to be a sanctuary for the weary, for the bereft and bewildered. The young, in their turn, must learn to seek the church as this promised refuge. That God works to preserve the gospel in the hearts of His chosen is also His gift to us, and for that we are grateful.


As we count our blessings and give thanks, we must also remember those whose names have long been missing from the ledger. There are many who have abandoned their faith in weakness, for whom God’s grace is an unimaginable privilege. We must never forget these members. In the famous parable of the lost sheep, it is striking that the shepherd, at the climactic moment of discovering his missing sheep, “lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing” (Lk 15:5). This is the true love of the shepherd. The shepherd, who leaves all behind in search of the lost one, lovingly holds on to his sheep and is unwilling to ever let go of it again. This is the love that Jesus has for us—all of us. Those who are strong and firm in faith must assist in this hunt for the lost and, like the shepherd, take our fellow brothers and sisters upon our shoulders. We have all been redeemed by the same blood, and it is our duty to gather the straying ones home.

Thanksgiving prompts us to look ahead. We have received so much, yes, but then what? As Jesus reminds us in the parable of the fig tree, no matter how deeply rooted we are within the vineyard, to refuse to bear fruit is to be contemptuous of God’s grace; and that warrants being cut down and discarded.

Vital to our lives as Christians is the humility to accept God’s reminders. All thanksgiving begins with remembrance—of good things that have happened in our lives. We marvel at the miraculous; we rejoice. Yet greater still is a thanksgiving that is inspired from a deeper level of understanding. That is, when we suffer, when things do not go our way, we remember that God is speaking to us through these experiences. He is asking us to remember our faith and covenant with Him. Praise God for such humbling opportunities to grow and shine for Him.

A century of God's abidance is a lot to be thankful for indeed. We must, in our prayers and in our mutual encouragements, remember His grace and give God the glory. But it cannot end with a muttered prayer and occasional “thank God.” Our gratitude to God must prompt us to pass on the love, grace and strength we have received. We are so filled with God’s love that we cannot help but share all we have been blessed with—the gospel, a helping hand, a heartfelt prayer, a listening ear. Freely we have received, and freely, gratefully, we give.

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Author: Barnabas Chong
Publisher: True Jesus Church