ARThe Body of ChristWhat is God's framework of salvation? Is it true that because God is gracious and loving, many will be saved? Find out for yourself in this article.True Jesus Church has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the basic doctrines of salvation. It is what distinguishes our church from other churches. God's framework of salvation is such that one should not be surprised that the church of God is not huge, is not powerful nor influential, and is not old. Although our church is a minority, yet it is the Church that will be saved in the end. Jesus has one fold and that there other sheep of His that as yet do not belong to His fold. The Bible also tells us that body is one (Eph 4:3-6). We should make every effort to make it one flock and one Shepherd.
Occasionally, I have to put up with chuckles when I say that I belong to the True Jesus Church. "What? Can you say that again?" And when I politely repeat the name, the look says it all: "You mean to say my church is false?" They wonder how anyone could be so audacious as to imply that their church is false. Meanwhile, from the pulpit of their own church and in their own mind, they are reminded that there are many false churches in the world. And so begets the illogical reasoning: Your church must be false because you say that mine is!
I have been in the True Jesus Church since my baptism as an infant. I am not moved by such illogicality. The True Jesus Church, as a matter of course, encourages its members to confirm the teachings of the church from the Bible. Therefore, when I realized what it meant to be a member of this unique church, intellectual and spiritual freedom have led me to do some serious soul searching. Let me share with you some of the questions that I brought myself to face as I grew up in the church.
Are So Many People Unsaved?
I grew up experiencing the grace of God while at the same time learning the wonderful Word of God. One of these teachings was that Christ had but one body. Now, this meant that there is only one church of God. Initially, that was easy to accept because all was well in the church. However, when I saw the bigger world around me, I was troubled to realize that if what I believed was true, there would be so many people who would not be saved.
It would be so much easier if one belonged to a larger denomination or accepted an ecumenical perspective that Jesus has true believers in all the different churches. It would be so much more convenient. However the underpinnings of religious education required that I not take the easy way out but instead search the scriptures for God's point of view.
I found out that throughout history, the people of God were always the minority, more often than not a very small minority. Only eight people were saved when God destroyed the world with the flood
(1 Pet 3:20). When God decided to choose a people for His own, He only chose Abraham and his offspring through Isaac and Jacob
(Gen 35:9-12). He did not choose one Abraham from each nation throughout the world. The Chinese, Indians, Europeans and the native tribes of the Americas had to wait until Christ broke down the dividing wall of hostility between the Gentiles and the Jews
(Eph 2:11-16). The Jews were never a large nation in the world. When Jesus was in the world, the number of His believers was always small. When the number increased tremendously, Jesus would say something really difficult and those who remained were again few in number
(Jn 6:60-66). Jesus alerts us, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it"
(Mt 7:13-14). The Christians during the time of the apostles were always fewer than the Jews. In fact, they were often considered a deviant sect of the Jewish faith
I was reassured from the Bible that being in the minority doesn't mean that one is immediately wrong. Quite often, the true prophets of God such as Elijah
(1 Kgs 18:17-40) and Jeremiah (Jer 20) were minorities in their times. This, however, should not be taken to mean that the majority is always wrong. Instead, it teaches us that we should look beyond mere democracy and not heed only the cry of the crowd when it comes to knowing the will of God.
A common barb aimed at the True Jesus Church is that she is 'exclusive'. By this, her detractors mean that her claim of being the only true church smacks of arrogance. They are hurt, understandably so, when they think that the teaching of the church excludes other Christians from being the children of God.
From the many years that I have been in the church, I can see that it is never the intention of the church to claim that she is better than everyone else. In fact, the church is highly aware of the limitations of her members. Not many of us are rich, powerful, or intelligent. Indeed, our claim lies in the belief that what we are doing is right and is the will of God. We sustain our effort not through our power, for we have nothing to boast of in ourselves but in the power of God. While I have seen some church members who are smug in the belief that we are the one true church, these form the exception rather than the rule. Furthermore, the Church frowns on such a lack of love. Members are reminded that God has chosen them not because they are of great value but because of His grace
(1 Cor 1:26-31).
The teaching from the Bible is that Jesus has one fold and that there are other sheep of His that as yet do not belong to His fold
(John 10:16). The solution to this situation, as the Lord said, is to seek out His sheep so that there will be one Shepherd and one flock. For this reason, the True Jesus Church is best perceived as "inviting" and open to any who seek God and will obey His voice. We are not exclusive in the sense of a posh country club where membership is restricted to those of the highest social order. Instead, the love of God invites all to His body with just this qualification of faith: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome"
(1 Jn 5:3. See also Jn 8:31-32).
Can't We Live and Let Live?
Once, when I was in secondary school, three other Christians in my class asked me to join them in preaching Christ to the rest of our class. Since we belonged to different churches, one of them suggested that we divide the class into four equal groups. Each of us would then preach to one group and we were not to infringe on another's turf. I could not agree. My friends asked why I couldn't let others preach Jesus according to what they believed. They reasoned that if they could accept that I was a Christian, why couldn't I also accept them? "Isn't it enough that we all preach Christ to those who don't even know Him instead of fighting with each other over the interpretation of the Bible?"
By then, I had realized that preaching the gospel was not as straightforward as my friends had made it out to be. Firstly, it is not enough to just preach Jesus. We must preach the true Jesus
(Mt 24:24; Jn 15:1). Secondly, although my friends had seemed to indicate that they were willing to accept me, they had in reality rejected my belief. They had not sincerely examined or searched for the truth; instead they held on to their beliefs and refused to fully discuss with me the doctrines of salvation. Because of these reasons, it was not fair that three quarters of the class would not be allowed to listen to what I believed was the complete saving truth.
I also realized that the majority of our church members are genuinely concerned about the salvation of other Christians. To them, it is not a matter of why the True Jesus Church cannot "live and let live;" rather, if we shirk our duty of preaching the complete gospel we will "live and let die." This is our sincere belief.
On the other hand, I have also become aware that bigger churches do give comments that are backhanded compliments. They claim that they accept us as Christians and wonder why we do not accept them also. On deeper inspection, the remark implies that our doctrines of salvation are wrong because these churches want us to accept them without the need for them to change in any way. It is impossible to reconcile the doctrine of the necessity of baptism for salvation with the common Protestant belief that one is saved just by confessing Christ as Savior.
Meanwhile, there are many that do not mince their words and simply tar us as heretical. At the same time, they feel offended when the True Jesus Church preaches that if one does not follow the teachings of the Bible, they do not belong to God. The True Jesus Church has encountered much abuse, judgement, spite, and plain ignorance against her from bigger churches. We have been accused of drowning babies during infant baptism. Many churches brush us aside because of their unshakable belief that anyone who does not believe in the Trinity is a heretic. Consider the similar situation between Jesus and the religious leaders of that time:
Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, 'Why have you not brought Him?' The officers answered, 'No man ever spoke like this Man!' The Pharisees answered them, 'Are you also deceived? [Judgmental] Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? [Proud] But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed. [Spiteful]' Nicodemus
(he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, 'Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?' They answered and said to him, 'Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee. [Exposing their own ignorance
(Isaiah 9:1)] (Jn 7:45-52)
How Sure Am I That the True Jesus Church is True?
The members of the True Jesus Church are far from perfect. In virtue and knowledge, we have much to improve on. What distinguishes the True Jesus Church from other churches is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the observance of the basic doctrines of salvation. These do not require a person to be superior to others. Rather it is the grace of God to those whom He has chosen and who has accepted His gift in humility.
So then, this is it. I believe that the True Jesus Church is the true church of God because the church has the Holy Spirit. I can see this because the members speak in tongues
(Acts 10:44-46). I also believe that the church is true because the doctrines of salvation taught by her are easily verifiable from the Bible. There is no theological double-talk to squirm around difficult questions. This is often done in churches that have long traditions. So what happens is that leaders have to justify the traditions of man masquerading as the teachings of God
(Mt 18:1-9). As in the days of the apostles, the gospel is not to be understood only by the wise in the world but to anyone who will be guided by the Spirit when he searches the Scriptures
(1 Cor 2:1-13). The truth was never meant to be the sole domain of theologians in musty libraries of old universities. However, it is also not so simplistic and illogical that only those who are brainwashed can actually follow.
In addition to these two important reasons for my faith, the True Jesus Church, since her beginnings, has been imbued with the power to perform signs, wonders, and miracles to testify of the presence of God
(Jn 11:40-45; Mt 11:2-6). I have heard and read reliable testimonies of wonderful miracles performed in the church. In addition, as with many other believers, I have experienced some wonderful works of God in my own life. These wonderful acts in the church are not the sole basis of our faith but they do testify strongly that God is with us.
What Is God's Framework of Salvation?
Predominantly, when a person opposes a certain concept, it is because he already has his own different concept. Consider the issue of the one true church. The arguments against such a concept can be seen to be based on a particular view of God's framework of salvation. Firstly, because God is gracious and loving, many conclude that He will save many people. Hence, a church of God must be big. Next, the older the church, the more probable that it is close to God. This means that new young upstarts are to be viewed with suspicion. Finally, since God is glorious, His church on earth must also exhibit a similar secular authority and influence. Thus the church of God must walk with princes.
Let me expand on the earlier Biblical examples so that God's framework of salvation can be made clearer.
In the case of the Flood, God saved only eight human beings. God chose Noah and his family because Noah was righteous in His eyes. God's love seeks to blot out sin through the acceptance of the cleansing blood of Jesus in faith. But it does not force salvation on those who reject Him, either outright or by refusing to obey His will
(Mt 7:21-27). Because man is more likely to reject God and not because God's love is limited, God's framework of salvation includes only very few people. Read
Matthew 7:13-14 and the story of Abraham's intercession and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
(Gen 18:22-33, 19:1-29).
One of the main reasons why the Jews rejected Jesus was that they perceived that He was teaching something opposed to the established order
(Mk 2:23-3:6). The disciples later faced the same problem (Acts 5:27-40) and the early Christians were often seen as a deviant sect of Judaism
(Acts 24:5; 28:22). We know that the teachings of Jesus were founded firmly in the Old Testament and that the Jews at that time were dogmatically holding on to their own interpretation of Judaism. In fact, they could not even agree among themselves on many matters of the Law
Jesus was a carpenter and the son of a carpenter. This fact made it difficult for many to accept that He was the Christ
(Mk 6:3-6; Mt 13:55-58). Christians in the time of the apostles were generally not powerful or influential. Christianity was not a religion you joined to hobnob with the high and mighty. As mentioned earlier, God often chooses the things that are despised to shame those who think that they are great in the world. This is often the framework of God: that His power may be shown through those who are not mighty in the world. Consider also the chosen nation of Israel. They were not a mighty people in the sense of numbers or geographical size. But God chose them. The true church of God need not be a powerful church with great political influence. What is important is that there must be the power of God with her.
In short, God's framework of salvation is such that one should not be surprised that the church of God is not huge, powerful, influential, or old.
What Does the Bible Tell Us About the Church of God?
- It is the body of Christ (Eph 1:22-23). The body is one (Eph 4:3-6). The body without the spirit is dead
- It is the pillar and bulwark of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). It must uphold the truth that is founded on the teachings of the apostles and the prophets with Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone
- It is the bride of Christ (Eph 5:22-32). Jesus has only one bride.
- It is a chosen people, separated from the world (1 Pet 2:9). The church is in the world but not of the world. In a way, it is like the chosen nation of Israel in the Old Testament. There was only one chosen nation. There were others whom God had chosen but they had to be one through the redeeming sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, which reconciled Jew and Gentile.
It is good to accept the differences of others and to live with them in peace and harmony. There are, however, some differences important enough to separate us for Christ and from the world.
I pray that this article will help members in the True Jesus Church understand our doctrine of the one true church. With this understanding, we may grow stronger in the conviction that God is truly gracious to us who do not deserve Him, He who chose us from among the many millions of souls in the world. All the more, we should find in our hearts the desire to repay the debt we owe Jesus by preaching the gospel so that as many souls as possible may be saved. We should also have compassion for those who belong to God so that, like Cornelius, they may be brought back to the Good Shepherd. Then there will be one flock and one Shepherd.