Defending the Truth (1)
Pr. FF Chong
In the name of Lord Jesus Christ I speak. Peace and grace of our Lord Jesus to our brothers and sisters here.
The theme for this convocation is to increase the nations and expand the borders. We know that the True Jesus Church has been established exactly a hundred years. In fact one of the sub-themes given to this centennial establishment of the True Jesus Church is the defending the faith.
It’s important for us to expand the borders and to increase the nation. But we know that all this must be done on the basis that the Truth is intact. So when you look at the Old Testament Scriptures,
9 Now hear this, You heads of the house of Jacob And rulers of the house of Israel,
Who abhor justice And pervert all equity, 10 Who build up Zion with bloodshed
And Jerusalem with iniquity (Micah 3:9-10)
We know that in the Old Testament Scriptures, Zion represents the Church. And the message here points to the future of the Church. You find that here we are told Zion continued to grow. Continued to be built up, but with bloodshed. And Jerusalem was built up, but with iniquities. If you look at the history of the Church. After the ascension of Christ, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. The Church expanded very quickly. Many people came to join the Church by the mighty power of God. The gospel Truth that continued to be preached to many nations. After all the apostles died, history tells us, the Church became corrupt. We find that the Church continued to expand, and people continued to come into the Church. But we find that after apostle died, perversion seeped deep into the Church.
So when we talk about increasing the nations, or expand the borders, the basis for this to happen is the Truth.
That’s why today we must also learn how to defend the faith. We know that the Truth is given to us by Jesus Christ. Just like He has given the Truth to the early Church, the Apostolic Church. Now whenever we talk about the Truth, we know that the Church refers to the Law of God, the Commandments of God and also the Word of God. Sometimes when we say about the Truth, it refers to the gospel of salvation.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of Truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. (Eph 1:13)
Here Paul equate the word of Truth to the Gospel of Salvation. So when we talk about defending the Truth, it means that we defend the Gospel of Salvation. In our context today it means we defend the Basic Beliefs of the Church, the Doctrines of the Church. Because we find that this Gospel is actually closely connected to the Doctrine as well. We turn to 1 Timothy, we read chapter 1. We read verse 10 and verse 11. The last part of verse 10 talks about the sound doctrine,
for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. (1 Tim 1:10-11)
So this Doctrine actually is the Glorious Gospel. We have now come to a conclusion: the Truth is the Gospel, the Gospel is the Doctrines. So when we talk about defending the Truth, it means that we defend the Gospel of Salvation that God has given to the Church. It means that we must defend the Basic Beliefs of the Church, the Basic Doctrines of the Church.
Some people said, why we spend so much time on talking about the Doctrines. Does it really matter to our salvation? Should we not adopt an attitude of tolerance? Even though people may speak different Doctrines, we must have the heart to accept, to listen. But is that right? I think first, we need to adjust our mindset according to what the Bible says. Yes, the world tells us that we should listen to others. In fact, we must learn to listen to others as well. I think this is a very good mindset to have. Because we are not perfect. We need help from others at times. That’s why we need to listen to others. But when we talk about the Truth of the Church, the Truth is given by God. It’s not given to change. Whatever the Lord has said, we know that the Bible says His words will not go in vain. Since God has given the Truth to the Church, then we have the duty to uphold the Truth. We turn to Acts of the Apostles chapter 2.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)
The Chinese translation is the Apostles’ teachings. My version NKJV says the apostles’ doctrines. If you look at verse 42 closely, after the people have been baptized, those who have accepted the words of Peter and the rest of the apostles, verse 42 tells us that they continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine. If you look at the word “continue.” What does it mean? It means that you cannot give up halfway. For those who have joined the Church, they have been told that they must continue in the Apostles’ doctrines. Meaning that they must uphold the Doctrine to the very end. They must have this determination to do so. That’s why when you look at the, other words here mentions steadfastly. What does it mean to be steadfast? Meaning that no matter what happen you would not change your cause. Let’s say you want to go from A to B. Your destination is B. You know that you must be there. So when you are traveling from point A to B, no matter what happen you would not change course. This is being steadfast. Or we say immovable. This is the kind of faith that the people who came to join the Church must have. To observe the doctrines of the apostles to the end. Meaning that after the early Church has been established, God actually gave the Church a set of beliefs. That’s why the believers must follow.
But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)
Here Paul is reminding believers in Rome, to tell them, to remind them how they were set free from sin. Here it says because they obeyed from their heart that Form of Doctrine which has been preached to them. When they obeyed that Form of Doctrine, you find that it was set free from sin. And they became slaves of righteousness. From here we can see the functions of these formal doctrines. When a person obeys it, the person can be set free from sin. So we can see how important it is to stick to that Form of Doctrine. Otherwise, if we deviate from that Form of Doctrine, we may even fall back to sin again.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine. (1 Tim 1:3)
Some people say that in the early Church, they did not have a set of beliefs. But when you look at the instruction here given by Paul to Timothy, it’s quite clear in the early Church, there was a set of doctrines in place. Otherwise, how could Paul tell Timothy to charge people not to preach another doctrine? Look at verse 3 again. Here Paul says, “I urge you.” It’s like Paul was pushing Timothy. How can I explain the word “urge”? Sometimes your mother always nag at you. Please do this quickly, quickly. This is the idea of urging. It’s like something very urgent. Something that Timothy must do it quickly. That’s why Paul says as I urge you when I went into Macedonia. Paul said charge people not to preach other doctrines. I think the Chinese version is a bit too mild. Actually the translation is not correct. You know charge is in a military setting. It’s like the superior commands, the subordinates to carry out his instruction. Meaning that there must be no violation, the Church is absolute. You may think that the Church is unreasonable, but you cannot change it. That’s the meaning of the word.
So Paul, told Timothy, warned these people, commanded these people that they must preach no other doctrine. Meaning that in the early Church there is Set of Doctrines which has been put in place. So when you look at the early Church, they all share in this common salvation. We turn to the book of Titus chapter 1, we read verse 4.
To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 1:4)
So you find that Paul and Titus share the same faith. Or believe in the same Truth. They obviously preach the same set of beliefs. Today, we can come together as a Church because we share in this common faith. And this is a very important to bear in mind. The Church has been established because God has given the Truth, this set of beliefs to the Church. So we must keep ourselves in this set of beliefs. We look at verse 1. Titus 1 verse 1.
Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the Truth which accords with godliness (Titus 1:1)
What does it mean here? You know that Paul was a very gifted person, he received great revelations from God. Even Peter said that the teaching of Paul, were just like the Scriptures, like the Old Testament Scriptures. Meaning that the teachings of Paul is of the same quality of the Scriptures. But here when Paul talks about his own belief or faith, it’s according to the faith of God’s elect. Meaning that his belief is the same of that of the Church. Even though he had received great revelation, what he received from God did not go against the Scriptures, did not go against the belief of the community of faith. Here, we also can see the humility of Paul. He has great revelation, but he did not put himself above the teachings of God. This is something all of us must learn. We have been told to study the Scriptures. To talk about the word of God. We have been told that we must know the Scriptures, but the important things is that in the cause of pursuing the knowledge of God, you find that humility must be the forefront of the pursuit. We must understand that whatever we have received from God cannot be different from what the Church has received. And this way we will not go astray.
We have heard how workers have fallen away from grace. Because they allowed this pride to come into their hearts. Yes, God has given them great wisdom, great understanding of the Scriptures, but they were not able to control themselves. So we find out when pride is in the hearts, whatever understanding we may have received from God cannot be retained for long. Because God will depart from a proud person. We find that when that happens, then his spiritual understanding will be blinded. He could no longer understand even the Basic Truth of Salvation. So we must be very careful. Yes, we have to search into the Scriptures diligently. But what is even more important is that we must pray that God will always keep us in humility. So in this way we will not be blinded by our pride.
Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1)
In another translation it says, “Faith of the same value.” Now for example, we all believe that baptism forgives sins. This is our common belief. We all share in this belief. Today if I were to tell you that baptism does not forgive sins, it means that my value of faith is different from yours. I’m no longer sharing the same faith as you because I have deviated from the right curve. So here Peter reminded the believers, yes the faith is very precious. But we must make sure we share in this same faith. So in this we will not be deceived. These are some of the basic concept or understanding that we need to have.
The Church was established because of the Truth. Why is the True Jesus Church different from all the other Churches? It is not because we are better than them, the difference is because we have the Truth. When the Truth is in the Church, it means the presence of the Holy Spirit is also in the Church. If there is no Truth, it means that the Church also does not have the Holy Spirit. So we cannot change the Truth. Not only we cannot change, we must go all out to defend. In the Church, we can give ways to practically anything, but not with the Truth. This is one thing that the Bible clearly tells us. We turn to Jude verse 3.
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)
Now from this verse, we can see the heart of the writer. Here it says that he was very diligent to write to them. The Chinese version says he was very faithful to write to them. But in the English version says he was very diligent to write to them. Because what he was writing is concerned with their salvation. That’s why he was very faithful and very diligent to write this. This is what the writer Jude teaches the Church, and asked the Church to contend earnestly for the Faith. In the Church setting, we would not encourage believers to contend with others. But when we talk about the Truth, we have to contend. Not only do we have to contend, here it says contend earnestly. What does it mean to be earnest? Do to the best of your ability. Give everything that you have for the faith. That’s why find in the Bible, some people, they martyred for their faith. Because they contended for the Faith. This is our duty. So we must learn how to contend.