Deacons’ and Preachers’ Bible Research Meeting
A Bible Research Seminar was conducted by the GA of Malaysia and Singapore in 1970. The following are answers by Dn Hsieh Soon-Tau to questions from the Central Region Churches. The result of this seminar was not published because of its “controversial nature” reckoned by some renegades of the KL group, is now considered a thing of the past, released for your information.
In order to keep the answers to their original form we have decided not to add or to delete any part of this article, so that a full view of Dn Hsieh was truly represented at the time when the seminar took place.
1) Can other churches also receive the Holy Spirit?
Ans: a) Before the True Jesus Church was established, the Holy Spirit had descended in USA, the result of which had initiated the Pentecostal Movement.
b) It is not the Holy Spirit if the teachings of any other Church oppose the basic faith of the True Church (1 John 4:1-6).
2) Where was the first downpour of the Holy Spirit in the Latter Rain Period - America or China?
Ans: a) In 1900, the Holy Spirit descended in the cities of Kansas, Texas, Oklahama, etc. Later, the Pentecostal Movement began in other countries as well.
b) In 1909, Chang Lin Sheng from the province of Shan tung met with the members from the Apostolic Faith Union in Shanghai, and on December 21, he received the Holy Spirit. In the spring of 1918, he went down to the True Jesus Church in Tientsin to work with Paul Wei.
c) In 1910, Chang Lin Sheng preached to Barnabas Chang. On March 1911, Barnabas Chang received the Holy Spirit.
d) On January 27, 1919, Barnabas Chang and Chang tin Sheng baptised each other facing downwards in the water. Later, they baptised thirty over believers.
e) On August 17, 1916, Paul Wei contacted the members of the Apostolic Faith Union in Peking. A few days later, his illness was cured. A few months later, he received the Holy Spirit. On November 20, 1917, he decided on the name, The True Jesus Church.
f) In February 1919, Paul Wei went to Shantung to preach throughout the province, together with Barnabas Chang and Chang tin Sheng.
3) What is the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit?
Ans: a) Speaking in tongues (Acts 10:44-46).
b) This is in line with the condition of the first downpour of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 10:47; Acts 11:15).
4) What is meant by “to be filled with Holy Spirit”?
Ans: a) In the Greek original “to be filled” is a verb which implies that an action is done sporadically in the past. It also suggests an action done in the present continuous tense.
b) The action that happens sporadically in the past is a sudden action (Acts 2:4; Acts 4:8-31; Acts 9:17; Acts 13:9).
c) Action in the present continuous tense suggests a continuous action or experience happening (Eph 5:18). In this manner it will bring forth spiritual fruit.
5) What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
Ans: a) The word “gifts” in the original text means “rewards from grace”.
b) The gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to 1 Cor 12:8-10, amounts to nine. These are all the pre-requisites needed to establish a church.
6) When we speak in tongues, do we speak in repetitious sounds?
Ans: a) In the ‘Chien-Wen-Li’ (of the Chinese Bible), it is known as ‘spiritual tongue’. Whereas in the ‘Kuo-Yu-Ho-Ho’ version (of the Chinese Bible) it is ‘provincial tongue’, and in the Greek original, it is ‘glossa’ - meaning tongue, and thus it is ‘sound of the tongue’.
b) So long as this ‘sound of the tongue’ is uttered through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, whether the sound made is in the rolling action, or in stammering manner or in the style of speech intonation (ie, in language form), they are all the same.
7) Can we have crosses, pictures of Jesus Christ and the Last Supper?
Ans: As long as one does not revere (worship) the pictures as idols it makes no difference whether one has them in one’s home or not.
8) How do we remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy?
Ans: The Sabbath in the New Testament is a Sabbath under grace (Mark 2:27-28). It one is free to decide, one should attend the Sabbath service, if circumstances do nut permit, the Lord will forgive.
9) Silent Prayer
Ans: The purpose of a silent prayer is to put the congregation in a calm and reverent mood for service. But it does not need to he done so often in one service.
10) Can a woman speak in Church?
Ans: a) The Ho-ho version (of the Chinese Bible) states: “I will not allow women to speak” (1 Tim 2:12).
The translation from Li Cheng Chung version: “I will not allow women to teach men in public.”
The English Bible also translates it as ‘teach’.
b) To deliver a sermon is different from teaching.
To deliver a sermon is to speak on behalf of God and the speaker can he of either sex (1 Cor 14:31). Teaching means being a leader. A woman should not over-ride authority in church (1 Tim 2:11-13).
c) ‘A woman can preach with head covered’ (1 Cor 11:5).
It is thus evident that women then can preach as long as they veil their heads.
11) Must the congregation wait for the service leader to begin first and then all start to pray?
Ans: The service leader will first utter : “In the name of Jesus, we pray”. Only then does the congregation begin to pray. When the service leader sings the closing hymn or recites the Lord’s prayer, the congregation ought to do the same, only then will there be order in the service procedure.
12) Must we use the Lord’s prayer?
Ans: a) The contents of the Lord’s prayer represent our aspira¬tions and contain many precious teachings. Up till now, the aspirations have yet to be fulfilled so we should still recite the Lord’s prayer together.
b) In ancient times, the Lord’s prayer was used as one of the programmes in the service (Matt 6:13).
13) Must women use their veils when they attend church services?
Ans: a) It is only necessary during prayer and preaching (1 Cor 11:5).
b) The women in Corinth originally had the custom of wear¬ing veils. This is because these women at first had the misconception that in Christ they are equal to men so they discarded the custom. Therefore, Paul rebuked them, and clarified that such equality only refers to matters of salvation (Gal 3:28). It does not refer to equality in family life or life in church.
c) To wear a veil denotes humility and submission (1 Cor 11:3). (People in places where the veil is used can carry on with the custom hut it need not be forced upon, in places where the veil is not used.)
d) The intention is far more important than the action itself. If one merely wears the veil hut does not manifest humility and submission, what is the purpose then? If one does not wear a veil but yet manifests these two virtues, then is it not equivalent to wearing a ‘veil’?
e) Foot-washing is a sacrament. Apart from putting into practice the teachings from this sacrament, the act itself should not he neglected. Wearing a veil is not a sacrament, so, as long as the teachings (of humility and submission) are put to practice, the act need not be emphasized.
14) Must we pay tithes?
Ans: Jesus taught us that paying tithes is something we ought to do (Matt 23:23). Thus, we should pay tithes so that the Lord’s house may be bountiful.
15) Do we believe in such a thing as “holy water” for members to drink if they are sick?
Ans: a) The Bible does not record the use of “holy water” for healing the sick.
b) The efficacy of healing any sickness depends on faith (Jas 5:15). If only one has faith, one can be healed without drinking holy water. If one does not have faith, then drinking the water is also ineffective.
16) Do we cast out the evil spirit from those who are sick?
Ans: a) To cast out evil spirits is a common method used by Jesus in curing the sick (Matt 9:32-33; Matt 17:18).
However, it is not required on every occasion to do so (Matt 8:3,13-15, Matt 9:6-7,22, Matt 29-30).
b) Whether one should cast out the evil spirit from those who are sick depends on the guidance of the Holy Spirit at that particular moment.
17) Must we kneel down to sing closing hymns?
Ans: a) The closing hymn follows the end of the prayer to close the service. If one stands up to pray, then of course, one should continue to stand in singing the closing hymn. If one kneels to pray, then it is logical that one continues to kneel down for the closing hymn.
b) In March 1926, the gospel was preached from Mainland China to Taiwan and at that time the congregation stood up to pray and sang the closing hymn.
c) In 1929, Dn Tsai Seng Mm from Taiwan stayed for two months at the GA headquarters in Shanghai. At that time, the members from the various churches in Shanghai city knelt in praying and also in singing the closing hymn.
d) In March1936, Eld Thomas Kuo came to Taiwan to organise a one-month Bible Study seminar. It was only then that, on Eld Kuo’s service the congregation knelt to pray and to sing the closing hymn.
e) The following Bible verses show that one may kneel to pray and praise God ( 2 Chronicles 6:13-15; Psalm 95:6-7; Dan 6:10).
18) Must blessings be given after each church service, house gatherings and funeral service?
Ans: a) A member in coming for church service will be blessed by God and it is not necessary to give additional blessings.
b) if blessing is given after every service, the same words are repeated then the significance of blessings may be lost.
19) Must our members wash “one another’s feet”?
Ans: The most important teaching from “washing one another’s feet” is to love one another, to forgive one another and to serve others. Therefore, the act itself is not required.
20) Are the elements of the Holy Communion really the body and the blood of Jesus Christ after prayer?
Ans: a) Jesus said, “This is my body; this is my blood” (Matt 26:26-28). It is thus evident that the bread and grape juice, after blessing, becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus.
b) This transformation is not in the physical but spiritual sense (John 6:52-56; John 60:63; 1 Cor 10:3; John 6:48-51).
21) Must only the leader bless the elements of the Holy Com¬munion and the congregation remain silent?
Ans: The purpose of this is to let the congregation remember the Lord’s sufferings so that they will receive the Holy Communion with thanksgiving.
22) Can a deaconess lay hands?
Ans: The Bible does not forbid a deaconess from laying hands. However, according to our church tradition, a deaconess can only lay hands on sisters, not brothers.
23) Can a deacon in his old age be called an elder?
Ans: a) An elder is considered an overseer, (Acts 20:17, Acts 20:28). The word “elder” denotes a qualification whereas “overseer” denotes a position.
b) An elderly deacon, if he is in reality performing the functions of an elder, should then be ordained as an elder so as to be in line with the function he performs.
c) The Bible teaches that every church ordains an elder (Tit 1:5). If an elderly deacon is not to be ordained as an elder, then the number of elders will decrease gradually.
d) The ordaining of elderly deacons into elders had also been done by the General Assembly in mainland China.
24) Can an elder-deacon, deaconess or preacher resign?
Ans: If he feels that he is not qualified, he is allowed to resign. Of course, it is necessary to discuss the validity of the reasons behind the resignation.
25) Can our members go to other churches to listen to the gospel?
Ans: To prevent his faith from being infiltrated by false doctrines, we should advise him not to go to other churches to listen to the gospel.
26) Can our members also attend the Theological Seminars of other denominations?
Ans: It is allowed under the following circumstances:
a) If he goes on his own account and is not officially sent by the church.
b) If the individual concerned is firmly rooted in the basic faith of the church and will not be influenced.
c) If his primary purpose is to understand the original Biblical text and only treats studying the doctrines of the secular churches as secondary.
d) During the individual’s attendance at the seminar, deacons and preachers should keep in close touch with him, lest we should lose a fellow worker in Christ.
27) Can we invite other church leaders to come and preach on the church pulpit?
Ans: We cannot.
28) Was the year in which the True Jesus Church was founded in 1917 biblical?
Ans: No. There is no biblical evidence as to when Jesus was born and neither is there biblical evidence to prove when the True Jesus Church was to be found.
29) Was the founding of the True Jesus Church in the East and in China biblical?
Ans: a) There are biblical references to the founding of the True Jesus Church in the East (Gen 2:8; Gen 3:24; Ezek 43:1-2; Ezek 47:1; Rev 7:2-3; Isa 24:15).
b) The founding of the True Jesus Church in China has no biblical support.
c) Ever since 1917, we have not heard of a church from the East which is more perfect than our church, not even from the West. Thus, we strongly believe that our church is the true church from the east which the Bible promised to emerge.
30) Can we practice birth control?
Ans: a) The Bible does not prevent a member from practising it.
b) Birth-control methods which go against the faith or are harmful should not be used; other methods, however, may be used.
31) Can we donate blood and receive blood?
Ans: a) The Bible prohibits one to drink blood as there is life in blood (Lev 17:10-11).
b) To donate blood to others incurs no harm upon oneself but instead benefits others. It also does not go against the Bible.
c) Receiving blood can save one’s own life at times. And it also does not harm the person who donates. Therefore this is allowed.
32) Can church members observe festivals?
Ans: a) It is not allowed to observe days and festivals dedicated to idols.
b) It is permissible to observe public holidays and national celebrations other than the above.
33) Can church members observe Chinese funeral rites?
Ans: One should abstain from rites of superstitious nature.
34) If a husband or wife commits adultery, can the other party live together with that person? If they do so, are they committing adultery?
Ans: a) If a wife commits adultery, the husband can divorce her and remarry (Matt 5:32; Matt 19:9). This teaching gives permission to the husband for divorce and is not a definite ruling. So, if the wife displays a repentant attitude and for the sake of the children, it is also alright if the husband should decide not to divorce her. It follows that they can still live together, but the church has to ex-communicate her.
b) If a husband commits adultery and the wife should remarry, she is considered to have committed adultery. The person who marries her is also committing adultery (Matt 3:32; Matt 19:9). So, if a husband commits adultery, the wife is not allowed to divorce him and then to remarry. If they should divorce, the wife cannot remarry as long as her husband is still alive (1 Cor 7:10-11; Rom 7:2-3).
35) Can divorced members remarry? If they can, what are the reasons? If not, can we allow the member’s wife if she is an outsider to be baptised?
Ans: a) If the wife commits adultery, the husband can divorce her and remarry. If the husband commits adultery, the wife cannot remarry (Matt 5:32; Matt 19:9).
b) If the wife has not committed adultery, her husband cannot divorce her (Matt 5:32).
c) The husband and wife cannot simply divorce each other. If they do divorce, they are not allowed to remarry (1 Cor 7:10-13).
d) The unbeliever’s past sins are forgiven once she gets baptised ( Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). Therefore, she can receive baptism.