In response to ‘the truth is delivered once and for all but is gradual in its revelation’

 

 

        This series of Q&A is written in response to a transcribed sermon entitled the truth is delivered once and for all but is gradual in its revelation. There is a great different between the article written& submitted in 2005 for IATRC discussion and the sermon spoken by the same person, though the title remains the same. Many of the examples used in the initial article are nowhere to be found in the sermon. The main intention of the speaker is very clear: to state it mildly that the TJC will have an understanding of the Bible much more profound than that of the apostolic church. To unearth the real intent, the TJC has been given foundation-shifting truth, of which even the apostles are ignorant. 

 

      1. The question here is ‘Can the truth (faith) of the Bible be changed?’

 


      There are two constituent parts to our faith. First, our beliefs must be based upon the truth and second life’s practices must be according to the words of God (Bible). Believers of the true church have been ushered into the common faith (Tit 1:4), which is clearly indicative that the faith we share is on the same premise (the truth) and are given the freedom of choice within the perimeter of the truth. This is to ensure that the faith we have obtained is of the like precious faith as Peter has stated (2 Pet 1:1). The literal meaning of the word ‘obtained’ is ‘received by divine will’. The phrase ‘Like Precious’ is designated as equal in position, standing and value. To attain to an equal position, standing and value of faith becomes impossibility, if the truth is constantly subject to change. There is not a single account in the Bible which teaches so.

 

      2. You will be troubled when you look back to the beliefs in 1917

 


      It is needful to make a distinction between ‘looking at the truth (faith) from various perspectives within the pattern of the sound words’ (2 Tim. 1:13f) and ‘changing the truth (faith)’.

 


      The former does not contradict or demolish the foundation of the truth that the church has received from God (1 Cor. 3:11). For instance, those who cried out for vindication after the 5th seal was opened; had they been physically murdered or does the account merely describe God’s workers being incapacitated and threatened from continuing with their ministry. There are valid reasons for believing the former, in that Revelation eventually talks about how these people were vindicated. Their blood was actually shed (15:5; 19:2; Mt. 24:9; Deut. 32:43; 2 Kgs 9:7). However, the latter also has some basis to its claim. Paul said he was more in deaths than others (Ps 44:22; Rm. 8:36; 2 Cor. 4:10; 11:23). Whichever the case, neither claim distorts the teachings on this seal nor indeed the teachings of the Bible as a whole. Instead, they provide a coherent understanding of the two perspectives. Obviously, there is a need on our part to be contextually accurate in biblical interpretation.

 

       The latter is quite a different story altogether. It contradicts the basic tenets of the Bible, and throws the once clear truth into dubiety. For example, when circumcision was emphasized as a must for salvation in Acts (15:2), it was directly contrary to the truth of salvation stemming from the grace of God. It became inevitable for the apostles to go all out to defend the truth and expose the erroneous teachings. When circumcision is not attached to salvation, it can either be practiced or ignored, insofar as the commandments are kept (1 Cor 7:19). Another is if speaking in tongues is ruled out as the sole evidence of Spirit-reception, by accepting and tolerating it, the church’s stance is confused, making herself unable to know who have received the Holy Spirit, demolishing her foundation and being contrary to the Bible. This amounts to changing the truth.

 

      Clarification is needed at this juncture: personal immaturity in understanding the truth and imperfect knowledge of the God’s words cannot be used as a reason to change the truth. There are various reasons for a lack of understanding of the truth. First, we may not have searched enough into the Scriptures; to confirm what we have believed is so. Second, the virulent nature of pride in a person causes him not only to turn a deaf ear to what the church has taught but also radicalize him into believing that the teachings of the church are inaccurate, and therefore subject to change. The danger here is real, if we have fixed our minds on what the truth is and how it should be developed independently of the church’s stance.

 

       There is no ground for changing the truth that we have received on account of challenging views posed against us by those outside the circle of faith. There is always a solution to every question. In reality, we should not be concerned over what perception others may have on us. Our primary concern should be on if we have kept and preached the truth. More often than not, the inability to accept the truth from the church is more from within the inner being of an individual rather than the so-called discrepancy that has existed in the history of the development of the truth.

 

      Here, I can come to a sub-conclusion: the troubles that the speaker has are a result of not being willing to accept the teachings of the church. Gauging from the mind-set, though he claimed to have been troubled by the development of the truth in the TJC, in reality he is using the development difficulties the church has experienced as a means to propagate what he has in mind, i.e., the truth of God is subject to change in every generation, to advance his own version of the truth. Some of the facts given in this section on the truth’s development are not accurate and do not reflect the whole truth, according to what Elder Wu has researched into.

 

       3. 90% of the apostolic workers are to be accursed, since they preached differently from that of Paul.

 


      To claim that more than 90% of the workers in the time of the apostles were preaching contrary to what Paul taught is surely superfluous, speculative and unfounded. Let’s look at Gal 1:8-9 again. Paul did not say ‘I’ but ‘we’. He is saying if the workers (we) or even an angel preached anything different from what they (we) first preached they were to be accursed. ‘We’ gives an idea that the apostolic workers have a coherent set of teachings, which the Lord had given to them, and none could afford to differ in proclamation, regardless of the passing of time and the ever changing circumstances. This falls neatly in line with the foundation that the earlier church has established at the initial phase of her development – the church must continue steadfastly in the doctrines of the apostles (Acts 2:42).

 

      To use 2 Pet 3:15-16 to say that Paul’s teachings differed substantially from other apostolic workers is to misconstrue the Scriptures. First, the verses state that in Paul’s epistles there were some things hard to understand. The things Peter is talking about are concerned with the Day of the Lord and Christ’s long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, as they can be ascertained from the chapter itself. ‘Hard to understand’ cannot be interpreted as being different in teachings or understandings. In addition, the problem of ‘hard to understand’ occurred mostly on those who are untaught (not willing to learn or listen) and unstable (not founded in the truth).

 

      The context of Phil3:15-16 is about pursuing spiritual perfection. This is only possible when believers have received the upward call, to have mature spirituality. He is beckoning mature believers, to be in this pursuit with him. ‘If anyone thinks otherwise’ refers to any mind-set which is different from what Paul has said about pursuing Christ-likeness. If that is the case, then Paul believed that God would reveal to him, who thought otherwise the need to pursue Christ. He is to fine-tune his attitude to be in accordance to what Paul has taught. The verses are not talking about different concepts of the truth being accepted in the church or tolerating different gospels.

 

      Phil 3:16 is not talking about different understandings (of the truth) amongst workers and working together in spite of differences in understanding the truth are acceptable. Paul is saying to the level of perfection that the believers have reached; they must stay in line spiritually and keep progressing by the same directive of pursuing spiritual maturity that he has given them in unity.

 

      Truly, the issue of circumcision is one that Paul is talking about in relation to being accursed. However, the warning here is not just on some specific issues. Strict adherence to the wholesome words, the words of Christ and the doctrines is required of every believer (1 Tim 6:3). When we look at the book of Galatians, Paul taught the believers more than just the issue of circumcision. He taught them the teachings of the Holy Spirit, freedom in Christ, keeping the commandments. Wouldn’t they be accursed if they wilfully go against any of them? Doesn’t the same principle apply to the church today? If anyone preaches a gospel which turns the church upside down, should he not be accursed? We have to think long and hard with a God-fearing heart, whenever we attempt to preach contrary to what we have received.

 

      4. What is the truth?

 


      The truth is the commandments and the word of God (1 Jn. 2:4-5). It is also the Holy Spirit, who is also called the Spirit of truth (Jn. 14:17; 1 Jn. 4:6). The entirety of God’s word is the truth (Ps. 119:160). Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the truth (Eph. 4:21). And the church is the body of Christ. Surely the church (the TJC) has been given the complete truth (1 Tim. 3:15). To pose a question on if the church has grasped the truth of God is to cast doubts in the minds of believers. The word of Paul to Titus would be irrelevant – in our common faith (Tit. 1:4) – if the church has not had the complete truth. Both Paul and Titus shared and existed in the same faith. It is equally unsound for Peter to speak of faith of the same value (2 Pet. 1:1), if workers’ beliefs are different from one another.

 

      Though the truth can be profound, like those Paul preached (2 Pet. 3:15-16), it does not warrant a reckless departure from the traditional beliefs of the church. Undoubtedly, the Spirit is without measure but again it does not mean Spirit’s inspiration is indiscreet. The Spirit is a Spirit of order. He does not confuse the church that He Himself has established by giving her mutual contradictory principles. From the teaching Paul gave to Timothy, it is clear that the Holy Spirit helps us keep the pattern of the sound word (2 Tim. 1:14). If the truth is ever-changing, then is there a need to count on the Spirit to uphold what has been preached to us?

 

      5. My definition is that the truth can be changed; when Christ came the Law became a shadow.

 


      The law can bring life does not mean it can impart life (Rm 7:10). It is merely a tutor that brings us to Christ (Gal 3:24), to be justified by faith, that is to receive life through believing in Christ. When the Bible says the Law saves, it must not be understood as it can save a person from the bondage of sins. The reason is that the Law does not justify. The commandment saves (Ps 71:3) entails making known what sin is, and that a person is prevented from transgressing against God when adhering to the Law.

 

      The issues on the Law and grace & truth (Jn. 1:16) can be viewed upon from the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34), which is later on reiterated in the book of Hebrews (8:7-13; 10:16). The prophecy states that a new covenant would replace the old. The old one is related to the Law, which God (through Moses) had been guiding them by holding the hands of His chosen ones and bringing them out of Egypt. The new one is to guide from within the hearts of believers by imprinting the Law in their hearts. So, the difference between the two covenants is on the form and not content.

 

      The new covenant includes two very important aspects: first, Christ came to save us from sins. Those who believe in Him are no longer under the dominion of sins. This is the grace that Christ has come with (cf. Rm. 6:14-15). With the Spirit, He helps set us free with His word. This is the truth that He has come with (Jn. 8:31-32; 2 Cor. 3:17). In Christ Jesus, with the abiding presence of the Spirit, we are given the capacity to uphold the Law, fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah in individual victorious Christians and the body of the True Churches.

 

      In Hebrew, it is clear that the Law possesses a shadow of the good things to come (Heb. 10:1). In particular, the writer here says the Priestly System is a shadow, through which the sins of the chosen could be purged. When Christ has sacrificed Himself, being the perfect sacrifice, He has fulfilled (making the purging perfect) what the Law requires for the atonement of sin. When Christ came into this world, the Law (the core being the Ten Commandments) is still binding (Rm. 7:7-8). To say that the Law or teachings of the OT is a shadow is to misconstrue the work of Christ. Not only that, everyone is required to enhance it (Rm. 3:30-31), which is God’s truth (Ps. 119:151). In fact, the truth in the Bible includes the establishment of the Sacrificial System to the point Christ perfecting it.

 

      We therefore cannot use Jn. 1:17 as an example to validate the idea of the gradual revelation of the truth. The OT scriptures, at times, which is represented by the phrase ‘Law and the Prophet’ (Mt. 7:12; Lk. 16:29; Rom. 3:21) form parts of the coherent parts of the entire truth. The ‘Grace and Truth’ that came with Christ details another part of the truth that God has prepared for His chosen in the NT. In the process, God reveals how Christ has come to fulfil the Law through His sacrifice on the cross. In reality, the truth in the Bible transcends the time and space continuum. Otherwise, why did Jesus say to the Jews that if they believed Moses (Law), they would believe Him (Grace and Truth), for Moses wrote (in the Law) about Him (Jn. 5:46-47)? And Paul is equally guilty of scriptural misinterpretation by saying that God preached the gospel to Abraham before hand, i.e., ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed’ (Gal. 3:8), which is part of the Law. Assuming the Law has become a shadow, when Christ’s sacrifice has taken effect, is there a need for Paul to talk about what is only a shadow to those who have received the grace and truth?

 

       The example of a foetus growing in the mother’s womb cannot be used to back the concept of ‘the gradual revelation of the truth’. The reasoning is very simple, and we all know that in a normal circumstance a foetus would grow into a perfect human being with limbs and physical features intact. However, the revelatory process, as evident in recent papers written contrary to tradition, produces ‘new truth’ that could even shock the core of our spiritual existence, and divide the church of God. Since Jesus is the embodiment of the truth (Eph. 4:21), He has made perfect what the Law cannot do. In addition, He has given the Spirit of truth to the church. Is there still an aspect of truth which requires gradual revelation and a complete overhaul? 

 

      6. In every generation, the church must give room for the truth to be developed better than before.

 


      Galatians chapter 3:23 is not talking about the gradual revelation of the truth. It talks about moving from one stage to another in the plan of God to save, which eventually culminates in the sacrificial work of Christ. Paul was explaining to those who have gone astray, thinking that they could be saved by relying on the deeds of the Law alone, apart from Christ, that they were gravely wrong. For the Law could not give life, otherwise righteousness (being sinless) would have been by the Law (Gal. 3:21). This is a point that Paul has severely warned that if anyone sets aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law then Christ died needlessly (Gal .2:21). He then went on to explain the general purpose of the Law in relation to the teaching of justification by faith. The Law has served as a guardian responsible for the care and discipline of the children (tutor) in the plan of God (Gal. 3:25), and its work ends at the point of Christ’s death.

 

       The church in reality encourages believers to read the Bible and receive spiritual food in their own readings. Enabling the truth to be developed is a work of the church. However, there must be precautionary measure put in place. The development of the truth must deepen what the church has received and be well within the foundation of the truth. If a biblical perimeter is not well defined, we soon realise that whatever is preached can be in direct contradiction against the 10 Commandments, for example. Instead of believing that God is almighty, incomparable in every attribute, limitation is placed on Him in our knowledge. There may be some differences with regards to biblical interpretation. However, they do not shift the foundation of the truth. In most case, they are mutually complimentary.

 

      7. If the truth is subject to change how can it be defended?

 


      To understand Ephesians 3:4-5, there are few key points, words and phrases to be looking into. Does ‘other ages’ refer only to the past generations before the apostles? If one assumes so, then do the prophets know about the mystery of God to save the gentiles (Eph. 3:6)? According to Peter the prophets were very diligent to search into the grace that would come to the church, which they themselves prophesied (1 Pet 1:9-10). Though the mystery of God in prophecy was not for them, however, it was revealed to them (1 Pet. 1:11). Remember, they were prophets in the OT. Who are ‘the sons of men’ (Eph. 3:5)? Surely, they are not part of the circle of faith. So, no one is able to understand this great mystery if he is not within the community of God (Mk. 4:11), whether he lived before or after the apostles. The next question is who are the prophets (Eph. 3:5)? They are those who spoke the word of God in the time of the apostles (1 Cor. 14:3) and indeed ourselves; and prophets who had been given prophecy in the OT (1 Pet. 1:9-10).

 

      Judging from what has been discussed, it is clear that Ephesians 3:4-5, if understood correctly, is not talking about Moses or the prophets in the OT being ignorant of the mystery of the gentiles enjoining into the body of Christ and less more so about the gradual revelation of the truth. It is about God’s plan, which has been known by those who belonged to Him, regardless of which generation they were in, facilitating the gentiles to be partakers of God’s promise through the gospel. It is not at all true this is a case concerning the truth is being subject to change constantly. Otherwise, what did Paul include holding the mystery of the faith as one of the qualifications of a deacon (Tit. 1:9) and say he must fulfil the mystery of the word (Col. 2:14)?

 

      To state the incident in Acts – those who insisted that gentile believers must be circumcised, to be saved – is not a case of troubling the church rather of holding onto the traditional belief is to change the word of the Bible. In the Jerusalem decree, it indisputably states some have troubled the gentile believers with their words, unsettling their souls (Acts 15:24). Paul uses the same expressions to warn against those who caused confusion in the churches of Galatia (Gal 1:7).

 

      8. Is the truth the TJC preaches complete? You won’t dare to say the truth we have is perfect.

 


      To state the incident in Acts – those who insisted that gentile believers must be circumcised, to be saved – is not a case of troubling the church rather of holding onto the traditional belief is to change the word of the Bible. In the Jerusalem decree, it indisputably states some have troubled the gentile believers with their words, unsettling their souls (Acts 15:24). Paul uses the same expressions to warn against those who caused confusion in the churches of Galatia (Gal. 1:7).

 

      ‘Know’ (9) should be understood in the light of how God knows about Paul (12). The knowledge of Christ is imperfect when love is not perfect in practice. Since Paul says that he is in constant pursuit of maturity (Phil. 3:12), without exception, here he is also in pursuit of knowing Christ in totality. ‘The perfect comes’ refers to the perfect stage to which the church or a believer has attained. Its literal meaning is when that which is complete has come, indicating believers are to pursue the perfect love, which is the fullness of Christ in us (Eph. 3:19; 4:13). When we have the love of God in full we will not speak and act childishly, rather behave like a mature person (12). For that reason, Paul says all should comprehend the love of Christ in unity (Eph. 3:18). When the church has lived out the perfect love of Christ, believers shall surely see God as He is (1 Jn. 4:17-18). This is the time when Christ shall come again.

 

       According to the book of Hebrews, when Christ came, all things related to the Law are made perfect (7:28; 9:9, 11; 10:14; 12:23). After the second downpour of the Spirit, the True Church of God has once again been given the perfect, like what the early church had received. Since we have the Holy Spirit just like the apostles did, we will not receive any revelation more than the apostles did. Neither will we receive any new teachings which are not known to the apostles. After all, our faith is based on their teachings.

 

       According to the book of Hebrews, when Christ came, all things related to the Law are made perfect (7:28; 9:9, 11; 10:14; 12:23). After the second downpour of the Spirit, the True Church of God has once again been given the perfect, like what the early church had received. Since we have the Holy Spirit just like the apostles did, we will not receive any revelation more than the apostles did. Neither will we receive any new teachings which are not known to the apostles. After all, our faith is based on their teachings.

 


      9. Every generation has its complete gospel.

 


      The Law and things within the Law were not perfect, without Christ. Christ came to make perfect or fulfil the Law. The ‘gospel in the OT’ is part of the NT. This is made possible when Christ has accomplished His mission to die for all on the cross. The two parts of the canonised Bible are inseparable. OT scriptures, without the fulfilment records of their prophecies of the NT scriptures, could not be deemed authentic. Likewise, the NT’s teachings, without the OT’s prophecies, are incomplete. One notable example is the covenant God had with Abraham (Gen. 22:18), concerning the Seed. According to Paul, the covenant was confirmed before God in Christ (Gal. 3:17). His teaching found its root in the OT scriptures, as the teachings of Jesus did (Mt. 15:7-9; Isa. 29:13). Here, the emphasis is Christ. His sacrifice not only has accomplished the plan of God but also fulfilled the promises of the Bible. There is no one single account in the Bible which says that in every generation, there is a perfect gospel, which can be radical, different from before.

 

      10. I believe to be saved is a great grace and everyone can be saved.

 


      God’s salvation is for all but not everyone can be saved. Those who are called are many but few are chosen. As long as one believes and keeps himself in Christ he can be saved. This is precisely what Hebrews is talking about, in that one has to leave the discussion of the elementary principles. The key is about a state of spiritual immaturity (Heb. 6:1) - being unable to discern what is right from wrong (Heb. 5:12-14). Those who are termed spiritual babes are not necessary those who do not have the knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1), judging from the subsequent verses (6:4ff). They are those who have tasted the goodness of God and become the partakers of the Holy Spirit.

 


      The question on ‘why did God create the tree of good and evil?’ is intended to cast doubts in the minds of the believers. The answer from the Bible is clear: Adam fell from grace because of his disobedience, which was evident in taking the forbidden fruits (Rm. 5:19). God, being the most supreme, requires man to obey Him, to find grace in Him. The instruction from the Lord is very simple – do not eat of its fruits and the day you eat of it, you shall surely die (Gen. 2:17). God did not say anything more than what His instruction was. To say that there would be 5 different responses from 5 different preachers when being asked of this same question is designed to deceive believers into believing that it is fine to probe into this issue. This is very dangerous. It will open up the discussion on the self-existent of Satan again.

 

 
      11. The resolution of the IA TRC: the truth is delivered once and for all but with gradual revelation; but some have remained strongly disagreed.

 


      The speaker claimed that though this has been approved by IA and some remained strongly disagreed with it. It is good that IA is quick to response to this resolution, and realise that there is a need to discuss this issue again. Looking at the content of the transcribed article, the message given is completely the opposite of what the church has received. The main thrust of the sermon is on the truth can be changed and in every generation there is a complete gospel and in the almightiness of God, nevertheless, it is not complete. This is very confusing. It can split the church and cloud the direction that the church has received from the Lord.

 

      To use a person’s ignorance of the truth and later on gaining understanding as God’s means of revealing the truth is totally inappropriate. This should be deemed as correction done on the part of the person concerned. It is biblical to say when the truth is given there is always someone who is there to corrupt. This is expounded in the parable of the ‘Wheat and Tare’. Such a corruption occurs in every chosen generation of God.

 

      It is not true that many of the apostolic believers were ignorant of the truth on the justification by faith. It is first written in the OT (Heb 11), and indeed those who were saved in the OT, they were saved by their faith as well. Justification by faith occurs in Baptism. In reality, justification is another way to express the redemption of Christ. Likewise, the teaching of being saved by grace is inseparably linked to baptism. A person is considered being saved by grace when he is dead in his transgression with Christ and made alive together with Him (Eph. 2:5). Again, this occurs in baptism. The apostles surely were not talking about new truth. Their teachings always have their foundation on the commands of Christ.

 

      Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early rain and latter rain’ (Jas. 5:7). Does James teach us about the different understanding concerning the coming of the Lord existed between us and the apostolic believers? The answer is a resounding ‘no’. The main teaching here is about patient (5:7-8). Now, does the faith of the apostolic believers include their longing for the coming of Christ? If they did not long for the coming of Christ, they could become defocused resembling the attitude of the unfaithful servant in one of Christ’s parable (Lk. 12:45). Their faith enables them to see the promises they have not yet received, even though they died (Heb .11:13). If the OT’s saints could see the eventual realisation of the heavenly Kingdom, what make us think that the apostolic believers, though have faith in God, were ignorant of the plan of God to save in different periods. After all, we are told the prophets have searched diligently into the grace, which we know, that would come not only to the apostles but also to us (1 Pet. 1:9-10). Irrefutably, the work of salvation they had searched into is not a partial one and it has to be a complete one from the time of the apostles right to the second coming of Christ.

 

       Though there is only one church in God’s salvation plan, there are two periods in which she would appear, according to Isaiah chapter 11: God’s work in recovering the remnant of His people shall fall into two phases, indicating the appearance of the church in the former (Isa. 11:10) and latter times (Isa. 11:11f) of God’s plan. There are two propositions for such a claim. Firstly, ‘in that day’ is mentioned twice. The exact periods are not clearly stated in the prophecy. Judging from the details provided, we know they are of the NT, for the first one began at the incarnation of Jesus, as indicated by ‘there shall be a Root of Jesse’. The second would occur after the first based on the sequence of events as devised by the Lord. Secondly, the banner is set up twice. In verse 12, the setting up of a banner would take place in the future (Isa. 11:11). It goes to show that the banner must have ceased from functioning at a certain point in time, otherwise it would not require resetting up.

 

       We are now required to establish that this prophecy is about the emergence of the church in those periods. From the perspective of God’s plan, His desire for humanity to seek after Him for salvation has been the same throughout all ages. In particular, after the ascension of Jesus, the church became the frontrunner of this work. Even though Jesus was initially the main figure whom the gentiles would seek, the work of the disciples was the continuation of His work after His ascension, functioning under the same banner. After all, the main work of Jesus was to establish His church on earth to call and to save humanity.

 

       “… For the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious” (Isa. 11:10b). Paul adopted this idea with slight variation, to serve as a principle for the church to receive gentile believers (Rm.15:10ff). He stated that Christ should rule over the gentiles (Rm. 15:12). This is only possible when they believe in Jesus and become members of His one body, which is the mystery of God from of old (Eph 3:6). 

 

      Coming in the power of the Spirit, in the first phase of assembling, Jesse’s root brought righteousness to the spotlight in His ministry (Isa. 11:1ff). His work culminated in bringing the vicious people to co-exist in harmony in an unprecedented fashion with the gentle, in His entire holy mountain, which is the church (Isa. 11:6ff; Eph. 2:14ff). This part of the prophecy coincides, in transpiration, with the existence and work of the apostolic church at the downpour of the Spirit.

 

      When the Lord set His hand the second time to recover more people (Isa. 11:11), the latter church sprang into action, continuing the work of the early church. She shall be a banner under Jesus, which the Lord sets up, to represent what He stands for (Isa. 11:12). This resembles what the Father stood for as represented by Jesus and the disciples - a banner to the people (Isa. 11:10).

 

      Prophet Amos had long ago predicted the restoration of the apostolic church: “On that day I will raise up the Tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11). The prediction may first appear to be the rebuilding of Solomon’s temple. The second temple, however, was never like the first in its physical appearance, structure and size. Therefore, this prophecy does not refer solely to the rebuilding of the physical aspects of the temple.

 

       Since the words of the prophets in the OT are always with prophetic elements inhered, it has to be taken to mean the temple in a spiritual sense, the church, as reinforced by the word ‘tabernacle’. She has to be rebuilt ‘as the days of old’, which is on the truth upon which the apostolic church was once founded. Though James quoted it in the Jerusalem conference (Acts 15:15ff), which in its usage is an inference to the church, he intended it mainly to be a foundation for accepting gentile believers into the fold (Acts 15:19). This is what God had planned from eternity (Acts 15:18).

 

       However, the citation from Amos does set the duality of this prophecy in reference to the church in two different points in the space and time continuum. The restoration of the glory of the first temple at the dedication of the second can be a replica to the restoration of the apostolic church by the establishment of the end time True Church.

 

       Before the apostles, there had not been a church that God established on earth. The rebuilding could only occur after the degeneration of the apostolic church. With this understanding, we can say that it is a prophecy of the end time, as the purpose of the rebuilding is to enable ‘the rest of mankind’ and ‘all the gentiles who are called by ‘My name‘ to seek the Lord, far exceeding the scope of the mission of the early church (Acts 15:17). The phrase ‘four corners’ is used to indicate the scope of the ministry in which the church would involve (11:12). Comparatively speaking, the scope of the apostolic ministry was limited to one end only, and the end-time true church, however, is given the task of reaching out to the entire globe. 

 

       Here we can come to a conclusion: the prophets talked about the rebuilding of the temple, the apostles talked about it (Acts 15:16-17; Rm 15:10-12). Jesus also talk about the rebuilding not the physical temple but His body (Jn 2:19). Can we say that this teaching is not found in the Bible?