Aun Quek Chin—Singapore
Editor’s note: The True Jesus Church’s declaration that she is the ark of salvation is commonly greeted by Christians from other denominations with, at best, incredulity and, at worst, hostility. This article addresses some common challenges made to this declaration.
CHALLENGE 1: A SINGLE ARK IS UNREASONABLE!
A logical inference from the statement that the True Jesus Church is the ark of salvation is that other Christian churches are not arks of salvation. Claiming that the many different churches in the world cannot lead their many adherents to salvation sounds very unreasonable.
However, consider Noah’s ark. Out of the entire world, a single family comprising eight people was saved by entering a single ark—the ark. If reasonableness were measured by the number of people saved, then the God of the Old Testament would be an unreasonable and unloving God. He saved a mere eight people out of the entire world’s population!
However, we know that God is love and is always wise; so what is the right perspective of this event?
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Heb 11:7)
[God] did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly. (
The Noahic world had become so corrupt that God had to judge them based on His righteousness (Gen 6:6–7, 13). However, the loving God was unwilling to destroy humankind without first giving them the opportunity to repent and be saved, so He instructed Noah to preach righteousness. He also commanded Noah to build an ark; whoever believed Noah’s message of imminent judgment could enter this ark and be saved from certain death. Unfortunately, the people neither believed nor repented. Their refusal to enter the ark condemned them of their sins. Noah bore testimony to this and the reasonableness of God’s command. These people ultimately perished not because God did not want to save them. They perished because they were unwilling to enter the sole ark that God had lovingly provided.
The end-time destruction of the world will be no different. The True Jesus Church is the ark of the last days because she was established based on the truth revealed by the Lord. God wants to use this church to save all who believe. However, if people choose not to believe in His way of salvation and refuse to enter this ark of salvation, they condemn themselves.
CHALLENGE 2: HOW DARE YOU CALL US FALSE?
Another common reaction to hearing the name “True Jesus Church” is one of anger: “If you’re true, then are you saying that my church is false?” The True Jesus Church is accused of arrogance because these critics think we have no right to use the word “true.”
People often use this word in conversations—“What I said is true”—or declarations—“My love is true.” No one takes offense because all of us recognize the importance of being true. We know only true love is valuable, and true words are significant. Being true is a positive attribute sought by all. Thus, if we believe that the object in our possession has this attribute, and we declare as much, should we be accused of arrogance?
For example, if a fruit seller knows that his wares are fresh, he may display a sign on his shopfront saying: “Fresh fruits sold here.” No one would accuse the fruit seller of arrogance. Buyers are free to examine the fruits before purchase, and if they discover the fruit seller’s claim of freshness to be untrue, they can then demand a refund.
Also, consider the example of an expensive luxury watch such as a Rolex. Cheaper imitations are available. An owner of a genuine Rolex will declare with some pride that his or her watch is the real deal. Any doubters could check the watch for hallmarks of authenticity. The Rolex owner need not feel defensive. If there are people who still insist on classifying the watch as counterfeit despite evidence to the contrary, then it is their prerogative.
In the context of the True Jesus Church, the church’s name was not formulated out of arrogance or with the intention of criticizing others. Instead, the name indicates that we know that she is indeed the church that belongs to Jesus Christ.
CHALLENGE 3: TRUE JESUS CHURCH IS A CULT!
The True Jesus Church’s claim of being the one true church has resulted in her being labeled a cult. However, when some researchers came to observe us, they found no cultish characteristics—there were no secretive communities, unorthodox practices, systematic brainwashing, or exploitation of members by leaders.
In apostolic times, the apostles made no apology for emphasizing that their gospel was the pure gospel. They also reiterated that those who preached other gospels could not save (
Responsibility, Not Audacity
Given that the True Jesus Church is frequently criticized for her audacity in declaring that she is true (and thus implying that others are false), some of our members may wonder why the church does not just adopt a more politically correct stance. For example, a much less offensive approach would be to play down the name of the church or dilute our claims about being the sole ark of salvation.
It is not that the church is deliberately obtuse and unaware that other denominations will take offense. It would be far easier to be ecumenical. However, we have no choice in this matter. We have to courageously proclaim that man must come to the one true church that is saved, because these are the words of Jesus Himself.
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Mt 24:4–5)
Some hold the view that all Christian churches belong to Christ. But Jesus Himself said that this is not the case. He warned that there would be many—not just one or several—who will come in His name to deceive. We must heed this warning. Not all churches that claim to be Christian belong to Christ. That is why we need to emphasize that there is a church that is true to Jesus, and there exist churches that are not.
Discerning the True Church
Having established that the true church differs from the others, how do we discern whether a church is indeed true? A reasonable and objective criterion is to see whether the teachings of the church are consistent with apostolic teachings. Such a criterion is reasonable because every Christian denomination acknowledges that the church of the apostolic era is the true church established by the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, any church of the present era whose teachings align fully with the apostles’ teachings must be true. This also means that any other church whose teachings and practices contradict apostolic teachings cannot claim to be the true church.
The term “true church” was not coined during the establishment of the True Jesus Church. In fact, in early Christian creeds, the “true church” claims, referring to the church during the time of the apostles, were already made. The apostolic church was the one true church because she had been established by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The Lord calls it His church.
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Mt 16:18–19)
What did Jesus mean by “on this rock I will build My church”? Some Christians claim that believing in Jesus Christ is equivalent to being established on the Rock. Jesus would disagree—people who call Him “Lord” but do not do the things that He has commanded are definitely not building on the Rock (Lk 6:46–49).
Be it as an individual or a church, if we believe in Jesus but do not walk in full accord with His words, then we are not established on the Rock of Jesus Christ. We are not the church that belongs to Christ, and we will not be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.
“Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' ” (Mt 7:21–23)
These people who called Jesus “Lord” were very sure they could enter the kingdom of heaven. They were not nominal believers, but people who had been zealous for the Lord. They had performed miracles, prophesied, cast out demons, and done many other wonders in His name. Surely, the ability to do all these in the name of Jesus must mean that He abided with them. Yet, very surprisingly, Jesus was adamant that they would not enter His kingdom. Jesus even declared to them that He never knew them! The basis of the Lord’s rejection is plainly stated—because they did not practice the will of the Father in heaven.
This is a stern warning indeed. Jesus was not speaking about weak believers. The people in His parable were better than those who only paid lip service to their faith. At the very least, they had the love to help people and the zeal to preach. They also interceded for people, cast out demons, and healed the sick. However, there is still much of God’s will that they had failed to follow, resulting in them being denied entry into the kingdom of our heavenly Father. Today, we must also be very sure to know what the heavenly Father’s will is—and what parts of His will we have yet to fulfill—lest we, too, be rejected and lose our hope of salvation.
The will of the Father comprises the teachings Jesus was instructed to impart. Jesus did not add or subtract anything because these words concern judgment and eternal life. No one has the authority to change any of these words.
“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” (Jn 12:48–50)
“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.” (Jn 14:24)
The words of the Lord Jesus are indeed the words of the Father. Those who want to enter the heavenly kingdom must fulfill the heavenly Father’s will—namely, the words He commanded Jesus to speak.
CHALLENGE 4: DOESN’T LOVE SUFFICE?
Another scenario frequently posed to the True Jesus Church is this: “There are many who wholeheartedly love the Lord, who have offered and perhaps even suffered much for God. Is the True Jesus Church saying that despite such love and sacrifice, these devout Christians will be rejected just because they have not strictly fulfilled some “minor” aspect, such as being baptized through full immersion?”
We are tempted to sympathize with such an argument. The essential articles of faith—being baptized according to the instructions of the Lord, having our feet washed, receiving the Holy Spirit—seem to pale in comparison with the deep conviction in Jesus and intense evangelical zeal demonstrated by these Christians. How can the True Jesus Church claim that selfless missionaries who have been beaten and jailed for the gospel cannot be saved just because they observed Sunday worship instead of Saturday? How can such genuine love for the Lord not suffice?
However, reflecting more deeply, do we realize that proponents of this argument are effectively saying that love—defined in our limited human way—for Christ overrides the truth of the Lord? The Lord Jesus Christ has a different definition of what it means to love Him: it encompasses obedience to His words, the truth.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. …If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” (Jn 14:21–24a)
The divine perspective of love differs from our limited human perspective. To man, making offerings and displaying zeal for church work are sufficient signs of love for God. However, to Jesus, loving God’s truth and showing obedience to His word are highly critical and integral components in loving the Lord. If our salvation depended on our good deeds, then the apostle Peter need not have brought the gospel to Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10:1–6).
Jesus said that if anyone loved Him, they would keep His words. According to the apostle Paul, love rejoices in the truth (
Receiving and Keeping the Truth
“For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.” (Jn 17:8)
After His ascension to heaven, Jesus entrusted this truth to the apostles and instructed them to preach it. So, the apostles were not preaching their own message. They preached the words of Jesus that came from the Father.
Jesus told Peter, “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:19a). These keys, which unlock the gate of heaven and permit us entry, are the words of the Father. They were not given to Peter as a sole individual. Instead, they were handed to Peter as the representative of the apostolic church. When we obey these words, we open the gate and enter the kingdom of heaven unto eternal life.
The word of truth preached by the apostles must be the only basis of what is preached in, and by, the church today. In the apostolic church, any preaching which deviated from apostolic truth was rejected. No one who preached differently would be acknowledged as part of the church.
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:6–9)
Initially, wherever the church was established—whether in Jerusalem or in Galatia—the same teachings were preached. But by the time of Paul's letter to the Galatians, there were two groups of churches. Both supposedly belonged to Christ but were preaching different gospels. Paul did not magnanimously accept both as churches belonging to Christ. This is clear from his stern rebuke, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.” To Paul, any amendments to the gospel mean it is no longer the gospel of Christ; anyone who preached the variation was accursed. The apostles did not recognize any church that preached contrary to what they had received from the Lord.
What is the scope of apostolic teaching?
To the apostles, it was not enough to preach Jesus and proclaim the salvation of the cross. What was as critical is how we ought to believe in Jesus, and how we ought to receive this salvation of the cross. On the Day of Pentecost, when the Jews, moved by the Holy Spirit, were cut to the heart, they repented. At that point, they already believed that Jesus was the Savior, and they believed in the grace of the salvation of the cross. However, this was insufficient. This was why they continued to ask a critical question: “What shall we do?” Peter’s answer was direct and straightforward: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Accepting water baptism and praying for the Holy Spirit are not conditions formulated by Peter. These were instructions of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mk 16:16); those who believe must pray for the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4–5); and those who believe must receive footwashing (Jn 13:8). In short, the content of the gospel is not just about believing in Jesus but also practicing the words Jesus spoke.
Keeping the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth
“[Teach] them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20)
We must take heed and practice all of the Lord’s commandments. It is not for us to pick and choose which to follow and which to ignore. We have no such authority. If we believe that the words of the Lord Jesus Christ are absolute and that they directly relate to the judgment in the last days, then we have no other choice but to follow them absolutely. We cannot add to or subtract from God’s word because this concerns salvation.
No one, apart from God, has the authority to save or judge humankind. Hence, no one has the authority to change God's word. The apostolic church was entrusted with the commission to teach others the word of God. Today and right until the end of the age, the one true church has the responsibility to teach these exact words.
There are churches today—aside from the True Jesus Church—who claim to be the revived apostolic church; they too declare themselves the true church. However, if what they preach is not entirely according to what the apostles preached, their claim is hollow. In contrast, the doctrines preached by the True Jesus Church are in complete accordance with apostolic teachings. Very importantly, the Holy Spirit received in the True Jesus Church is the same Spirit received by the apostles.
Let us never doubt that we are the church that belongs to God. True Jesus Church is the ark of salvation. We must enter into it and hold fast to our faith. Let us not be deceived into leaving this ark. May God preserve our faith. Amen.
 Rick Ross, “What Makes a Cult?,” The Guardian, May 27, 2009, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/may/27/cults-definition-religion.