The True Jesus Church is a nondenominational (Independent) church that originated in mainland China in the year 1917. The church was set up by native Chinese who wanted to follow the Bible and not the teachings of western denominations that they broke from. It spread throughout China, Southeast Asia, and other countries.
Chinas Christian history in the past has been hard and marked with bloodshed. In other ways, the Christianity that has flourished has had both good and bad elements because of extremes. In a number of statements by those involved in missionary work they note various problems, specifically mentioning the true Jesus Church. Let's look at a brief and condensed history of Chinas exposure to Christianity.
“The first missionaries, Nestorian Christians, reached China in A.D. 635 (Tang dynasty). Franciscan monks arrived in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (Yuan dynasty), and Jesuit missionaries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Ming dynasty). All of those early missionary attempts failed to take root in Chinese culture, and Christianity continued to be seen as a foreign religion.”(China: the Church’s Long March By David H. Adeney).
Hudson Taylor came in 1854 and founded China Inland mission (CIM) in 1865. “The nineteenth century witnessed a great increase in the number of Christians. In 1900 there were almost 113,000 Protestant Christians with 1,600 Chinese Christian workers and 2,000 missionaries. During the early years of the twentieth century, that advance continued. CIM missionaries found that the witness of faithful Chinese Christians in the midst of persecution, and the attitude of the mission in not asking for indemnity, opened people's hearts to the gospel.
The CIM became the largest mission in China, emphasizing taking the message of salvation to unreached areas” (p.41 China: the Church’s Long March by David H. Adeney).
In our modern times, there were three influential groups in the early 1900’s in China. “1917 in Peking, a group known as the “True Jesus Church” had been founded by Chang Lin-shen. Then in 1921 Ching Tien-ying had founded the “Jesus Family” in Shauntang. Finally, in 1928, the Little Flock was launched in Shanghai by Nee Duo-Sheng” (Three of China’s Mighty men Leslie Lyall p.62-63 1973 by overseas Missionary Fellowship.) The Jesus family later fell into extreme Pentecostalism with an emphasis on dreams and visions and was forcibly disbanded by the communists in1953 (ibid. reference p.79). In his book he mentions the three mighty men that affected China as Yang Shao- T’ang, Nee Duo- Sheng, and Wang Ming- Dao.
In referring to the preaching of Watchman Nee who started the “Little Flock” between 1928 and 1950, “His teaching met a great contemporary need and, in spite of its extremes in certain respects, and its other-worldliness, it was more free from error than that which was current in both the True Jesus Church and the Jesus Family. In the case of the former, their theology of the Trinity seems to have been at fault, particularly in relation to the eternal Sonship of Christ. “Feet washing” was also regarded as an essential sacrament and the failure to practise it meant that one had no part in the Lord, according to a literal reading of Jesus' words in John 13.6-10”(p.78 Three of China’s Mighty men Leslie Lyall).
“In one province some believers would accept only the four Gospels, rejecting the rest of the Bible. One man, having read the story of Christ's baptism, insisted that he too must see a dove when he was baptized. Others believed they should pray facing Jerusalem. When teaching is incomplete, heresies can enter.’ “Some Christians have been led of one kind or another. Led astray by extreme teaching teacher who claims to have a special brand of truth that makes his people “superior” to others have many followers.” “In some areas, Christians have been divided by teaching given by groups claiming that they alone represent the true Church.” (China: the Church’s Long March by David H. Adeney p.158-159)
As we look at the the True Jesus Church we will see the similarities that are called a special brand of truth “New Revelation.” The True Jesus Church believes that God prophesied that he would send the latter rain “through the Holy Spirit and is revival of The Church of the apostolic Days.” As promised by God and recorded in the Holy Bible, the True Jesus Church is the restored Apostolic Church in the end time” (1). This they claim descended in 1917 in the land of the rising sun, in Peking China. Three of their early workers were Paul Wei, Lingsheng Chang and Barnabas Chang were formally associated with other denominations until they received “The revelation of the perfect truth of salvation” (General Assembly tract-facts about the True Jesus Church).
There are a few basic things evangelical Christians may agree on with this church. They teach the Bible is God’s word, original sin, Christ being God in the flesh. But it is often what they mean and practice that can change a recognized doctrine. But they also hold to teachings that make them unique and exclusive, that develop into severe problems. This Church cannot be considered orthodox because of their exclusive statements and extreme interpretations of doctrine.
Their claim is that the Lord founded their church and personally revealed five doctrines of salvation to rebuild the church to the model of the church in the apostles time so they can preach the complete Gospel. These doctrines are: the baptism of the water and of the Holy Spirit for the washing of sins and the guarantee of eternal life, footwashing to have a portion in the Lord Jesus, Holy Communion and the Sabbath. They believe that the saving of one's soul is only possible by following God's complete plan of instruction in the Bible. This includes the need to repent and to be baptized “in the name of Jesus”only for the remission of sins (including a certain bodily position and in particular type of water) along with a number of these other requirements for salvation. Clearly, this is not grace through faith with all these other requirements, despite that they claim it is.
On the website: point number 5. they emphatically state “The True Jesus Church is the true church restored by God through the Holy Spirit of the latter rain. She is the revival of the apostolic church in the end times.” They believe that they alone teach the restored truth of salvation that started from Beijing. Just as the gospel was spread from Jerusalem outwards in the days of the apostles theirs is the latter rain. Their Scripture justification is Isaiah 2:2 (which happens to take place in the millennium, not now). They believe after a few decades the Gospel went to every province of China then expanded to other parts of Asia. They claim “ the True Gospel has also reached countries in America, Africa, Europe and Australia.” In 1949, with the Communists coming to power in China, the church lost its freedom and underwent great persecution. They compare the church in Taiwan, to the church in Antioch in former times.In 1985 the International Assembly was relocated from Taiwan to Los Angeles. Their purpose is to preach to the nations of the world, to unify the doctrines, help the local churches, and bring the gospel to countries that had not yet received it. They say the gospel was bought to the US in 1930. 1979 the gospel was brought to Africa. Missionaries from China brought the “true gospel” to Hawaii in 1930 and began the church here in 1932.
It becomes apparent from their writings that they are claiming that there was no true teaching or gospel to these areas until they came along. Let me quote them again to make this clear: “Until today, the True Gospel has also reached countries in America, Africa, Europe, and Australia” (True Jesus Church of Chicago). “The True Jesus Church is the true church restored by God.” By saying this they would have to reject some of the major influences by missionaries in China as well as men of influence from themselves, such as Watchman Nee.
In 1967 they formed the International Assembly (their administrative branch) in which they hold World Delegation Conferences every so often. (6 assemblies have been held to date).
The True Church is not a very large organization, but is active throughout various different countries (24) in the world. They consist of 419 churches, with 88,381 members. They are estimated in the millions in China.
In 1994 their Our Basics Belief lists their membership as 280,000 in 24 countries.
In another publication “At present, she has approximately 70,000 members in the free world, found in some thirty different countries on five major continents” (Facts about the True Jesus church).
“In 1995, reliable sources also estimated that the membership in the People’s Republic of China has grown to approximately 1,000,000 members.”
Over 1,000,000 in 24 countries (Singapore website/ Saba website).
“At present, she has approximately 79,000 members in the free world, found in some twenty different countries on five major continents. In 1995, reliable sources also estimated that the membership in the People's Republic of China has grown to approximately 1,500,000 members” (True Jesus church Australian website). This means most of the true Christians in the world now reside in China according to their view.
Listed as present situation on the website “At present, she has approximately 80,000 members in the free world, found in some thirty different countries on five major continents.”
Their membership is also reported to be approximately 1,600,000 in 37 countries (includes China) (UK web), another of their websites says Membership: 1.5 million in 39 countries. (any numbers greater than these are exaggerations according to their own statistics).
Regardless of their own varied reporting, it becomes difficult to determine what is the more accurate number. We can see that there are very few Christians in the world today; at least according to them. The majority is located in China. I would not be one that agrees with statistics of 1.5 billion Christians that includes anyone who names the name Jesus; but what I am sure of, there are many more believers who live for Christ in the world then what they are saying belongs to their church. Not much of a Latter Rain (the Latter Rain position is that the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh).
Houses of Prayer consist of congregations of between 15 people and less than 30. The extent of their presence throughout the world is in a small number of church's. In the United States there were 15 churches, 2 houses of prayer; totaling 2,073 members. Now in 2003 there are 20 churches listed in the whole of the US, including the United States General Assembly. In Canada there are 3 churches. There are 22 churches, 7 houses of prayer in Korea. 22 churches, 4 houses of prayer in Malaysia. 2 in New Zealand. Australia has 4 churches. There are 5 churches, 10 houses of prayer in the Philippines’s. India has 9 churches, 5 in Thailand, Currently in Indonesia, there are 14 churches and 17 prayer houses. In 1997 there were 5,415 (Indonesian website). 5 in Hong Kong, 8 in Taiwan. There are 9 churches, 1 house of prayer located in the UK. 7 in Central and South America. 4 churches in Europe. 4 in Africa. 1 in Moscow Russia (year 2003 stats from web). If the true Jesus Church is of the Latter Rain it is barely a drizzle right now.
The True Jesus church states, “Until today, the TRUE GOSPEL has also reached countries in America, Africa, Europe, and Australia” (2). They also have their new founders to thank for their unique interpretations on what this gospel is. Of course they validate themselves like the other latter rain adherents by claiming: “signs and miracles confirmed the truth being preached” (Our Basic Beliefs). “We preach and uphold the complete gospel of salvation in accordance with the Scriptures and have signs and miracles from above to testify to the truth” (Australian website). They point to “Signs and wonders which attest to the mighty workings of God have further confirmed its claim as the restored Apostolic Church in the End Time”(3). There are numerous other groups that claim this same position as well. All the churches that lay claim to the latter rain falling on them claim to have signs, and apostolic authority; they too use this as the proof that they are of God. Zech.12:10 and Joel 2 show that the latter rain falls on the nation Israel to be saved just as it did at the first Pentecost, not on a certain church beginning in China.
Jesus warned that, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew. 7:21). He specifically warned of those claiming his name for their miracles in the end (Matthew 24) to validate their authenticity. Certainly God does do miracles but the miracle itself is not proof one is authentic and approved by God. In fact it just may prove they are not. It is by their doctrine as well as their unity with the body of Christ and the core teachings that Christians have ALWAYS held to.
There are many who take the position that the church was no longer there and needs a revelator or prophet to restore it. This is essentially what they are saying: “The True Jesus Church believes that she is the true church, restored by God Himself through His Holy Spirit” (Website). After quoting Saint Augustine on the two cities of God they state “Let us return to the true “City of God” today-the True Jesus Church!” (Website)
Their Name-- TRUE Jesus Church
They arrived at their name “True Jesus Church” because the word “True” denotes that God is true”' (8), that all that is described in the scripture is true. Since God has established the Church she should bear His name. God’s name is Jesus. “the Church must bear the name of Jesus, who is the mediator between God and man” (UK website). The name “True Jesus Church,” is claimed to be derived through divine inspiration, used by their early workers.
What’s wrong with this premise is that God has many names to express His attributes. Although Jesus' name is the highest for salvation, we do not see one church in the New Testament that calls themselves this name. Does this mean there was no true church until now? The body, temple, pillar and ground, bride, household of faith as well as the Church of Christ are all used to describe Jesus' church, but none were named the True Jesus Church. If we could only gather all the church's that claim to be the only true church into one room to settle this matter; but then they would not be enough room for all who make these exclusive claims. The fact is: it does not matter what biblical words are used for their church, what does matter is if they have correct teaching and the true gospel.
While it may not be their intention to say others are false by saying they are true. On their website “ The True Jesus Church believes that she is the true church, restored by God Himself through His Holy Spirit.” “A careful comparison between the apostolic Church and churches in our time would reveal that thousands have deviated from the gospel preached by the apostles” (UK Website).
Besides claiming to be the restored church of the latter rain she has qualifications “What qualifies a Church to be true? The true Church must meet the following criteria” (UK website). [this criteria will be discussed further as you go through this article]. By stating the doctrines that they exclusively believe one must follow to make them a true Christian, they are excluding ALL others. This should bring up red flags because of their exclusive claim to being the true church.
Their statement of salvation by grace through faith, the need of salvation and who saves is stated but how it is interpreted and practiced does have inherent problems. They saySALVATION is given by grace through faith, but it does not stop there. It depends how this is interpreted and applied. They misunderstand what the biblical definition of grace and faith means as they add numerous additional requirements as necessary for you to be saved. In their question: How Can I Be Saved?They stateBelieve(Acts 16:31); Repent (Acts 3:19); Be Baptized (Mark 16:16); Receive the Holy Spirit (John 3:5); Obey the Commandments (Matthew 7:21). Along with these are various commands one must obey to receive salvation which contradicts what grace through faith actually means. It is by faith one finds themselves in God's grace. Grace is unmerited favor, it is unrelated to any deed or work we might do, religious or non religious.
Of course these are biblical teachings and commands-but not all are for salvation, anymore than reading, studying, witnessing and praying are. If Jesus saves in other commands, rituals and requirements then the cross is not the salvation focus of their gospel. The blood of Jesus is diminished in its salvific work. No matter how biblical these commands are one must determine if they are in fact the gospel preached from the mouth of the apostles or commands to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ afterwards (Which I think is a more tenable position). The false view of legalism is to add law and ceremonies to be part of grace.
But there is more: after quoting scriptures about one true body and Church they write on their website “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). Therefore,one can receive eternal life only through the true church.”
Notice the switch. By this statement they make their church an exclusive instrument to save. They make the same mistake so many others make; that one is not saved by Jesus ALONE, but by the auspices of the church. But they are wrong, no church saves anyone, Jesus does and one can be forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit outside a building, a church, group or denomination. Jesus says HE is the way, the truth and the life, not a church. Salvation is in the person and work of Christ on the cross.
They state “the apostles were adamant that there is only one gospel of Christ.” This is true, so we must go to what Jesus and the apostles defined as the gospel along with their explanation of how one is saved. Is it Salvation by Grace through faith (in Christ's crucifixion and resurrection) or... Salvation by Grace with faith - plus baptism, plus tongues plus foot washing, plus communion, plus keeping the Sabbath, plus...
“How can I be saved? Believe in God's existence and trust his sovereign power.” Acknowledge that the lord Jesus is the one and only God. Accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior. submit to God's word- the Bible, and to the Gospel of salvation preached by the True Church” (15). The Basic Beliefs of their church are found in their flyers, booklets and various other publications. “Although repentance and belief in Christ is the first step towards, salvation, true redemption is gained through water baptism ” (16)
Here we have two more requirements, baptism and the Gospel of salvation preached by the True Church. Orthodox Christians believe the Gospel is the “power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16), not the act of baptizing, Paul was not a sacramentalist but preached salvation by faith. When does one believe? Before Baptism! How? By hearing the Gospel (the message on Christ) and having faith people were saved and given the Holy Spirit. No one was baptized as an unbeliever. They received all the promises to a believer before undergoing water baptism.
Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” There is no physical work involved, it is matter of the heart believing and repenting. Salvation has ALWAYS been by grace through faith, it was before the cross and it is now after
It is our faith that is essential to salvation. faith means trust, its object is always God, not baptism and other human work. We are saved through faith alone by God’s grace. The gospel that saves a person from their sins contains nothing about baptism, good works, church membership
or attendance, tithing, sacraments or rituals, diet or clothing. No amount of any of these will help save you. If we add anything to the gospel of grace you have perverted it and thus come under Paul’s anathema in Galatians 1:8- 9!
The gospel that Paul stated we stand in is found in 1 Cor.15:1-4 and he wrote in Eph.2:8-10 how we receive it -- by grace through faith. Cornelius and his group were saved before they were baptized, they received the Holy Ghost as proof. This becomes a sticking point for those who believe baptism saves and change the place of salvation. It is as much a problem as the thief on the cross who did no works had no baptism and was promised to be with Jesus in paradise.
1 Cor. 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” This is what Paul taught for one to believe in for Christ to be their sin bearer and they to receive his righteousness.
1) Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
2) and that He was buried,
3) and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
1 Cor.15:1-4 is the Gospel ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES. This is the pure and simple gospel Paul says he delivered, and they received. Anything more or less is to believe in vain according to Paul.
Now Paul explains how this gospel comes to us. Eph. 2:4-5 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)”
Eph. 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
It is belief that we see consistently gives one a new life. To truly believe in the heart, the inner man. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and (John 3:18; 12:44; 20:31; 1 John 5:13) believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and (John 3:18) does not come into judgment, but has (1 John 3:14) passed out of death into life.” Jesus himself states that if one TRULY believes they possess eternal life, which the Bible tells us is given By the Holy Spirit. The True Jesus Church states this is only step one in many steps.
1 Jn. 5:1 “ Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who (John 3:16; Acts 14:2; Heb 3:18) does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” The fact that one possesses eternal life by faith is a clear indication they have the Spirit of life, the Holy Spirit. This is the clears and simple teaching of the Bible.
Rom.1:16 “ for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation, for everyone who believes.” Notice to those who believe not those who are baptized. This is the consistent message by Paul who knew the law well.
One needs to ask is baptism a work? Of course, it a physical action. Even though baptism is a command it is NOT the gospel. One needs to distinguish between what is necessary for salvation and commands. We need to distinguish faith that stems from the heart toward God and a work that comes from man. Baptism is not part of the gospel anymore than prayer, Bible study, communion, service or tongues are part of the gospel. These are works and each has there own purpose. The gospel is about Jesus Christ and His work for us, not about what we do physically in response, but what He did for us. If you don’t get this, then you do not understand what grace is and how God actually saves a sinner.Salvation is imputed to us as a gift from what Christ did: once we believe it. This is what the grace of God means. You do not do any work to receive, you believe. The thief did not merit salvation by any religious work, minutes before his death on the cross, he received the same thing the apostles did, not by following Jesus but by believing, showing his repentance.
Eph. 2:13-14 “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” The Bible states it is the “preaching of the cross” that contains “the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18) for salvation. We are supposed to be preaching Christ crucified as the gospel, not baptism, footwashing, or the sacrament of communion nor any other commands.
One must be saved first to obey or they will not have the power on their own to do so. No one teaches just believe and you're ok, (if they do they are wrong). Faith is an active ingredient in ones life just as it was in Abraham’s. If there is real faith it will show by a changed life and we will be faithful and persevere. After we are saved we are baptized we pray and pursue to do all the commandments, but these are not the requirements FOR salvation but because we have received salvation.
Their claim is accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior is, just the first step in God’s plan of salvation. After believing in Jesus, you must repent of all your sins.
The Apostle John says he who has no sin is calling God a liar. They do teach one must “repent of ALL your sins.” “Confess to God, with sincerity and humility, all your past sins...” (Basic Beliefs).
Did anyone ever repent of ALL their sins? Can anyone remember them all? (all means all). Isn’t that the majority of everyone’s life? This is not a Bible requirement though it may be commendable to try. Did the thief on the cross do this while Jesus was dying for our sin? (by the way He wasn’t baptized either).
Biblically to repent and believe are synonymous, sometimes repent is used as a substitute for believing. Its not an either or issue. If one truly believes they will repent. And repentance means to have a change of mind which will result in a change of life.
What I have found reading through their basic beliefs is that the gospel that is the cross is ominously missing as the center for ones salvation. Additions are baptism in Jesus name for the washing of sins, communion and footwashing, along with the commands such as keeping the Sabbath and the proof of possessing the Spirit by speaking in tongues. I think everyone should be baptized and participate in footwashing and take communion. However the real matter is whether you are doing these works to be saved. They say you must do them to for salvation! The proclaim this as the revelation of the complete gospel.
The Bible teaches salvation has always been by grace through faith, that a blood sacrifice was necessary for sins to be covered until Christ came to forgive sins once and for all. In the Old Testament it was based on you having faith on another animals life given in your place for sin. In the New Testament it is solely by Christ’s work on the cross for you not your work for him.
The Water Baptism that Saves
Water baptism is crucial to their salvation, they list 5 things for the remission of sin.
“a) in the name of the lord Jesus Christ b) with the head of the baptized bowed c) complete immersion d) performed in natural living water e) The baptist himself must have received the Holy Spirit.”(4).” The baptist must already have received baptisms of water and the Holy Spirit. The baptism must be full immersion in natural, living water and must be administered in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the candidate’s head facing downward” (Water, Blood and Holy Spirit). They do not believe in any man made facilities for this salvation event.
“The ‘one baptism’ expounded by Paul (Eph 5:4) refers to one mode of baptism and that a person should only be baptized in one correct baptismal mode” (West Malaysia web).
Their mistake; Paul is speaking of a Spirit baptism that puts one in the Spiritual body of Christ not water, and one cannot combine both. The simple reason is that they are two completely different things. You can’t say water is the Spirit baptism because we see people baptized in water and not receiving the Spirit and we also see people receiving the Spirit without being water baptized. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). The one baptism (the Holy Spirit’s work) is a Spirit baptism according to the Bible, and it has nothing to do with water. “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5) Christ always distinguished salvation apart from baptism in His ministry and so did the apostles. Granted, there are a few Scriptures that have baptism accompanying belief and exercising faith. We must always remember the clear teachings determine the unclear. When the apostles qualify and teach the church on a certain doctrine in the epistles, that is what resolves an issue. So these will be addressed separately.
“Salvation is given by the grace which Jesus brought about through His death on the cross, and also through faith in receiving the washing of regeneration [water baptism], and in receiving renewal by the Holy Spirit. These are the two basic requirements for Salvation” (True Jesus Church website).
Notice that one is saved through faith in baptism or the washing of regeneration and not in faith alone in Christ. Nowhere does the Bible add these for salvation. The gospel is what saves a person not in part, not half way or two thirds but completely. The gospel contains nothing about baptism, good works, service, church membership, tithing, sacraments or rituals, diet or clothing. No amount of any of these will help save you. In fact they will hinder you if you are doing them to be saved.
Lets read the whole scripture quoted in context. Titus 3:5-7 “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Is baptism a work of righteousness? Of course, Jesus said when he was baptized He came to fulfill all righteousness. Did Paul say it is not by works? He certainly did. So then baptism as a work is not part of the gospel. Notice the words grace and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. The washing of regeneration is done by the holy Spirit not by or in water. It is poured out upon-from above.
The True Jesus Church and many others are confusing the Justification of the believer with his Sanctification. “After baptism, a person’s sins are forgiven and he can be justified to be called a son of God.”
This is not what the Bible teaches at all, they have it backwards.
John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
In fact Titus 3:7 says: “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” You will never see the Bible teach we are justified by baptism. One has to do gymnastics with the Scripture to use it in this manner. Clear qualified statements are made on this doctrine. Rom.3:24: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Rom 5:1“Thereforehaving been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is in the past tense. You don't have to wait to be baptized.
Rom. 4:5 “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Paul makes it clear in Acts13:39 “and by him (Christ) everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
The True Jesus Church has made it clear the emphasis that they place on baptism. Consider this “The church emphasizes baptism, not only because the Lord Jesus commanded it of us (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16), but also because baptism is essential for salvation.”
Is it? Does the Bible teach one is unsaved until they are baptized (a certain manner is also required).
Does Jesus have to save me in baptism? If so then the cross is not the saving point of their gospel. The blood of Jesus is then ignored as sufficient despite the witness of the old Testament sacrificial examples and the clear teaching that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. This always took place at the altar apart from water.
We do not deny the necessity of baptism, but the purpose that they claim it is used for. Just as all good works and acts of obedience have necessary uses. Everything has its purpose but they do not have the same use. Water is necessary for baptism, but not for everything else. If one needs to be baptized for their salvation then Jesus’ atonement is not the focus of cleansing. Then their is a physical work needed in addition to faith for salvation. this exactly what Paul declared is not possible. Eph.2:8-10: “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Our faith is alive before baptism or any other work it. A gift is not a work.
The one who baptizes you is usually the one who led you into the Lord’s grace for salvation. Paul said he was the Corinthians father in the faith. Paul states 1Cor 1:14 “I thank God that Ibaptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius...” Then Paul writes a qualifying statement vs.17 “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel....” Now if Baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation [what baptismal salvationists’ teach] why would Paul state that Christ did not send him to baptize? Since it is this very act that saves; then Paul is denying the very gospel he preached. Instead he stated that he was sent to, “PREACH THE GOSPEL.” If baptism is indeed part of the gospel then why did Paul exclude it? In fact, he said that he became their father in the faith without baptizing them. The gospel is preached and believed upon by faith (Romans 10). Water baptism and any other physical act is a response to the gospel from a believer and Paul made it clear it is faith that saves someone not the act of baptism. And you can substitute anything else in the place of Paul’s example of baptism. Paul made sure he communicated only the pure unadulterated gospel as his message for salvation. He goes on to write, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The cross, not baptism is God’s means to save, and let me reiterate, they are not the same thing.
Under the topic- What Are the Sacraments? They describe them as “three New Testament institutions begun by Jesus Christ: baptism, footwashing, and Holy Communion. These divine institutions make use of physical elements or actions—such as water, immersion, washing, bread, juice, eating, and drinking—to effect salvation of the soul.” (Australian website).
This is what the Roman church has been saying about sacraments (sacramentum) for centuries. They too believe baptism removes ones sins and that communion is important for salvation. So the cross is clearly not enough for one to be forgiven and cleansed one must do a number of these rituals that Catholics have held to (minus the footwashing) as imparting grace.
Under the topic- Sacraments and Grace “Sacraments mark the entrance to the way of salvation, regeneration, a covenantal relationship with God, and the kingdom of God.”
That a “personal relationship with Christ through the sacraments.” “During baptism, our sins are cleansed and our spiritual life begins. By accepting footwashing, we have part with Christ. Through the Holy Communion, we partake of the life of Jesus Christ.” They claim “Without them, all subsequent works of faith amount to nothing.”
Baptism is an ordinance, to shift the forgiveness of God on a ceremony and not the person of Christ is sacramentalism, (a sacrament is a outward sign that claims to give grace. Biblically they are unable to convey grace they are only shadows and symbols of the true substance or event.)
They teach One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water (John 19:34). “The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus on the cross opened a fountain for cleansing that flows to this day. Anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus and repents of his sins may be washed freely through water baptism.” (Basic Beliefs, Baptism of Water also Words of Life 22). This they interpret as being born of water and the blood.
The problem with this mixing of water and blood is that Jesus already said it is finished and then He died prior to this. The next significant event for the believer is the third point of the Gospel was his burial and resurrection, not a spear in his side. This had nothing to do with our redemption except to show He really died on the cross. Scripture is crystal clear it is always by blood that our sins are forgiven and Jesus said it was completed before he bowed his head and dismissed his spirit. So this interpretation is lifted completely out of the context of the Bible and is never taught by the apostles.
Yet they insist “Water baptism is to receive redemption by the blood of Jesus” “ Baptism has the power to forgive sins...” (12). “Without water baptism, ones sins are not forgiven and the Holy Spirit would not dwell in the body of a sinner” (13). “He cleanses us during baptism and gives us the Holy Spirit just as he promised.” “Baptism carries the marvelous power to remove all sins” (Our Basic Beliefs).
They shift the forgiveness of sins from the cross to the act of water baptism. Yet we see Jesus forgive sins without the act of water baptism before the cross and afterwards, as He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you”(Matt 9:2). Once he went to the cross it became the only way to receive forgiveness and cleansing.
“ having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross”(Col 2:13-14).
Paul writes to two churches and says the very same thing. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”(Eph. 1:7 ), “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”(Col. 1:14). And it still is “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin”(I Jn.1:7) and it is received by faith. “That they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' (Acts 26:18).
The Blood is in the Water
Along with theirteaching water baptism is a divine command of Jesus and must be performed to be “saved”. After Jesus resurrected, he said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Jesus also said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5). One comes in contact with blood through baptism. (much like the International Churches of Christ who claim the same exclusiveness.)
They use 1 Jn.5:6-8 interpreting Jesus coming by the water and the blood as… “The precious blood of the Lord Jesus is still in the water during baptisms performed by the Church “(5). “The baptism conducted by our church has the spirit, water and the blood as the witnesses and is effective for the forgiveness of sins”(12).
How Jesus’ blood got in the water and is still in the water today is not explained, they call it a mystery. One thing for sure, the Bible does not teach the blood is mixed in the water. The blood was separate and the Bible treats it as such. Priest were cleansed by water before they partook in their ceremonies. The atonement was always by blood (Heb.9) on the altar put on the mercy seat by the high priest, it was never mixed.
Notice what they have done to this passage, it is focusing on Jesus who came by water and blood. V.6 and the Spirit bears witness of this fact. It has nothing to do with our baptism, but Jesus being a true flesh and blood human being, this is the witness we receive. And vs.10 makes it even clearer that those who believe in the Son of God (coming as a human being) have the witness in himself. It has nothing to do with baptism for the believer. John was refuting the Gnostics who did not believe he came in flesh.
They claim that baptism is confirmed by “countless visions of Jesus’ blood in the water and by the working miracles of healing” (Our Basic Beliefs). “The blood of Jesus is in the water” (12).
Nowhere does the Bible teach the blood is in the water or the same as the water. This is clearly baptismal salvationby water. There is no cross mentioned for salvation but water. Paul’s gospel was explained in 1 Cor.15:1-4 as Christ’s death and resurrection. The blood atones for sin and has nothing to do with water which is a ceremonial explanation illustrating this. Yet they teach “therefore, baptism is much more than a symbolic act” but the literal act that saves.
Baptism in Jesus name ONLY
In order for the baptism to be valid, you must be baptized “in the name of Jesus” and by the true church. (Accept instructions by the true Church according to Biblical instructions for the remission of your sins-Our Basic beliefs). But is only through the use of Jesus’ name that your sins can be forgiven in the baptism. (1 Cor.6:11; Acts 2:38; 4:12; 10:43; 22:16, Luke 24.47). The water baptism is necessary for salvation because it is through this act, he cleanses during the baptism and they give the Holy Spirit using Acts 2:38, 8:16; 10:48; 19:5, 22:16. (Our Basic Beliefs- Baptism of Water). Verses they use to prove their point should be read in their context and put next to what the same writers of Scripture said was the gospel.
According to their own teaching no one can go to heaven except by being baptized in the Spirit evidenced by speaking in tongues. But the fact that the gentiles received the Holy Spirit before their baptism proves their own teaching is wrong. Cornelius and his group were saved before they were baptized, they received the Holy Ghost as proof. Since the speaking in tongues proves one receives the Spirit (according to their own doctrine), then it also disproves their gospel they are promoting. This is something to dwell on as it shows the internal flaw of their theology. Acts 10 states they spoke in tongues receiving the Holy Spirit before their baptism. To deny this would mean that they have to deny their other requirement of tongues as the proof one is actually saved. It should be accepted that since the Gentiles spoke in tongues before their baptism therefore they were saved without baptism.
“Two requirements for salvation baptism of water and of the spirit which are more often separate.” We are born of the Spirit of God not creation (water). The source of the new birth is the Holy Spirit who actually regenerates the heart without water and the means is the Word of God (the gospel). God will not use fallen creation to institute the new birth. He Himself is the source. By God’s indwelling, the believer is made the temple of the Living God. The Spirit is the one who gives life. The Bible teaches that a man is born of (Gr. EK - out of) God. This description occurs four times in John’s epistle alone, (1 Jn. 3:9, 4:7, 5:1,4) which they point to insisting on water being the means to save. In all the instances where the source of the new birth is mentioned, the language in Greek is EK Him, EK God, or EK Spirit. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God uses creation as part of conveying the new birth. In John 3:3, the term “born-again” literally means “to be born from above.” The very essence of regeneration is by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They are saying, like other baptismal salvationists, they are born from below.
Not only must one receive two separate births but they must do it the correct way or its invalid. “A proper baptism also calls for immersion in fresh water. (Mat.3:16; Acts 8:38-39). You must go down into the water, head bowed forward.” “We are obligated in our baptismal rite to conform to the manner of his death in which He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
This is necessary because they teach baptism requires a death, burial and resurrection. Baptism must be in the likeness of the Lord’s death, with head bowed.”
Your sinful spirit must be “crucified” with Jesus and be “planted in the likeness of his death,” “so that the body of sin might be destroyed” in the baptism. (Rom-6:3-7). Therefore, since Jesus bowed his head forward when he died on the cross, you should likewise be immersed in the water going forward and not backwards.” (website)
Notice they say “baptism must be,” in this bodily position to relate to his death. Where does the Bible instruct us in the position of the body in immersion? It doesn’t. Immersion is what baptism is about, (not sprinkling) and there is no commanded position. To believe that if one is not baptized with their body forward makes it inadequate is ridiculous. For such an important matter surely Scripture would make it clear, but it does not. It’s unfortunate that people untrained see the word baptism or cleansing to mean an affiliation with water every time it is mentioned. Jesus said I have a baptism to be baptized in. This was after Jesus was baptized by John in water, he was speaking of the end of his ministry, a baptism or immersion in death for our sins. There was no water around when Jesus died, this is not water baptism, but a baptism unto death. Remember when Jesus told his disciples “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:50) After being asked to have her two sons sit on each side of Jesus, he answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with (Matt 20:22-23). The baptism he was speaking of was about his suffering on the cross for himself, and the suffering they would have to follow him by picking up their cross.
Rom.6:5 says that we were united in the likeness of His death. “Likeness” shows us that it is an illustration or a shadow of the substance. It is a figurative action of the real suffering and death that Christ experienced. We were represented by Christ in His death and resurrection. It goes on to say that we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. Only his has occurred, ours has not. Yet after our baptism we rise out of the water as a symbol of new life showing his resurrection.
The teaching of a persons head needing to be bowed when baptized isn’t mentioned in the Bible and therefore must be rejected. If we bring this teaching to it’s logical conclusion, taking it as literally as they do: we would need to be baptized with our head bowed forward as Jesus died, and really be dead. We also need to be in Israel, in the nude, bloody on a cross for it to be accurate and valid. Should two thieves also be standing on either side of the person about to be baptized etc. This is typical of those from the Oneness persuasion that are very legalistic. But they have gone further than most Oneness Pentecostals. According to their view even being baptized in Jesus name is not acceptable unless one is baptized in this required manner (face forward along with some other peculiarities). This should not make the UPCI or Apostolics not too happy, for their baptism in Jesus’ name is not valid. So even if one is baptized in Jesus’ name they are still unsaved.
Now with all this being said, if someone wants to bow there head, shout Praise the Lord! Or anything else during this wonderful moment in a believers life then by all means praise Him accordingly. But remember your head being bowed or your voice being lifted during baptism has no affect on your baptism or eternal destiny. God is significantly more interested where your heart is toward him than the position of your head. Neither is saying “the name” in baptism the only way to make one acceptable to God. One can just as easily call on Jesus to save them without baptism (just as Romans 10 states: we call upon Him for salvation.)
Jesus saving in water (baptism) removes one from faith in His sacrifice that took place on the cross, this becomes ANOTHER Gospel. The new birth is “of the Spirit” not of water (John 3:8). It is Christ’s work that literally redeems and justifies and it is by his blood on the cross. How can a baptism, which is a ceremony of this fact, do the same? Nothing is equal to the redemption on the cross, it is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, not water. We do not have two redemptions, only one. The true event happened almost two thousand years ago in the person of Christ on the cross, not in the water today.
As stated Baptism can be attached to faith (belief). But nowhere does it say “to be baptized to be saved” by itself. However you will find faith and belief mentioned separately from baptism for salvation (over 230 times).
Acts 26:18 “that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me that is in Jesus Christ.” The majority of Scriptures teaching us how to be spiritually born is by faith. The order today is faith the receiving of the Holy Spirit and then baptism, showing that you have died with Christ was buried and raised to new life.
Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Notice what it says and does not say. Those who believe are baptized but only those who do not believe are condemned. Again the gospel is preached and belief (faith) is the response. The greater context in Scripture always teaches salvation occurs before baptism. If they were pronounced saved by their faith before baptism then baptism is clearly not part of the gospel. There are hundreds of Scriptures to prove this. Belief is not the gospel, but it is what is needed to accept the gospel(grace through faith). Baptism is not the gospel because the gospel is something you believe in, not something you do. Mk.16:16 can be paralleled with Jn. 3:18, “He that believeth on Him (Christ) is not condemned” shows unanimously with the rest of Scripture, that believing is what saves and removes us from condemnation without baptism. Baptism is important and should not be neglected, it is an act of obedience to Christ, who gave this ordinance to the church. But if done to be saved you have missed the gospel.
They also teach “during baptism three things appear simultaneously. By the Holy Spirit, the blood of Jesus is in the water…the baptism conducted by our church has the spirit the water and the blood as witnesses and is effective for the forgiveness of sins”(16). There is no such record or teaching in all the New Testament. “With the presence of the Holy Spirit, the precious blood of the lord Jesus is still in the water during baptisms performed by the church” (15).
There are even testimonies of people who were baptized in the True Jesus Church; who witness the waters of baptism turning red, the color of blood. This is one of their miracle signs of proof for what they teach. To me it does not prove the truth at all, no Christian baptism in the Bible ever had the water turn red. The simple reason is that these are not the same events. I do remember the pharaohs magicians turning the water red copying Moses’ miracle of judgment on Egypt.
They also claim that people’s terminal diseases were cured by baptism. This certainly is not found as a product of baptism in the New Testament, though I would not consider this is impossible. They claim that these “signs and wonders which attest to the mighty workings of God have further confirmed its claim as the restored Apostolic church in the end time” (21). It’s not a matter of whether the miracles are present but whether they are biblical and confirm doctrines taught by the apostles. Lot’s of religions have signs, but those that are not found as biblical examples have to be questioned from what source they spring from.
How One Receives the Holy Spirit according to the True Jesus Church Gospel
(Acts 2:38-39) they teach “But it never teaches that the Holy Spirit dwells in believers the very moment they accept Jesus Christ into their hearts.” “this indwelling has to happen at the moment of accepting Jesus Christ.” Their position is that the book of Acts show that the indwelling is a separate event. Contingent on “a person accepts the complete gospel of salvation.” Which of course is the one they preach.
And we have already seen what they claim is that they have the full gospel. The Bible makes it consistently clear that when a person believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ then they are saved. The Bible does not teach that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is at a separate time. While the spirit can come upon and be alongside the believer the Bible is clear we receive Him who regenerates the believer by faith in the gospel.
They state “In Him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13). Responding to Believing in Christ is one of the criteria for receiving the Holy Spirit, and as long as we have faith in God, He will definitely grant us the Holy Spirit in His time. However, this does not mean that we will automatically receive the Holy Spirit once we believe” (website).
Time out - Lets look at what this Scripture actually says.
Eph. 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.”
Here Paul explains after hearing the gospel of your salvation and the emphasis is on believing (having faith in its message) you are sealed with the promise – the Holy Spirit. This should be sufficient if one goes by the clear statements of his letters to the Church. Paul continues this though saying in Eph. 3:17 “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love.” Paul concludes this matter by stating in Eph. 4:30 “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” And when did this happen? When you first believed, according to Paul.
And Paul makes it clear over and over again what this promise is and how it is obtained. He does so in his letter to the Galatians who were adding the law for their salvation and sanctification. Gal. 3:14 “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Not through baptism.
Rom 3:22-26 “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be apropitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
Rom 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Justified means we have new standing with God because our sins have been forgiven, this should be sufficient for anyone who wants to believe what the Bible says above what men say.
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