Fu Ming Tse—Taichung, Taiwan

Editor’s note: From March 23 to 24, 2019, delegates from True Jesus Church locations worldwide gathered for the twelfth World Delegates’ Conference (WDC) in Olive Garden, Port Dickson, Malaysia. During the Sabbath service, Elder Fu Ming Tse, the International Assembly (IA) Chairman, shared an exhortation based on the conference theme. This article is based on that sermon.

The WDC theme, “Discern the Time and Judge for Yourselves,” was inspired by the Lord Jesus’ words in Luke 12:54–57:

Then He also said to the multitudes, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, 'There will be hot weather', and there is. Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?”

The Lord Jesus observed how the people of His time had no problem interpreting the signs of the natural world. Yet, they could not recognize the Messiah, who was in their midst. He lamented:

 “But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying:

We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not lament.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.” (Mt 11:16–19)

Ironically, when Jesus preached a message of glad tidings, the people refused to listen. Yet, when John the Baptist preached a message of warning, they remained indifferent. Such apathy was like that of Noah’s generation, who simply ignored Noah’s prediction of the impending judgment. As a result, they perished. Only Noah and his family were saved.

 Likewise, today, in this end time, the true church has been commissioned to preach the gospel of salvation. Even though the world may ignore or even despise the message, the church must discern the time and continue to fulfill the will of God.

DISCERN THE TIME: GOD’S UNFOLDING PLAN

The chronology of God’s salvation plan can be gleaned from studying the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, the plan gradually unfolds: the making of the tabernacle; the building of Solomon's temple; the destruction and restoration of the temple; the establishment of the apostolic church; and the emergence of the True Jesus Church. God’s plan has been set out in fine detail.

 The year 2017 marked the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation. Interestingly, that year also marked the True Jesus Church’s centennial. Comparing the Protestant Church’s five centuries of history with the True Jesus Church’s one hundred years, unsurprisingly, some question the latter’s credibility. However, they fail to see God’s holistic salvation plan—how it began at the dawn of time with the choosing of God's elect and continued to this present time with the emergence of the true church.

Skeptics demand proof, just like the scribes and Pharisees who doubted Jesus’ identity and demanded a sign from Him (Mt 12:38). Jesus refused, saying that no sign would be given except for the sign of Jonah (Mt 12:39), which was fulfilled subsequently through His death and resurrection, accomplishing God’s salvation plan. After Jesus ascended to heaven, He poured out the Holy Spirit to establish God’s church on earth. However, when heresies infiltrated the church after the apostolic period, God withdrew His Holy Spirit from the church.

In 1917, God revealed the true gospel once again to humankind and re-established the church on earth in the form of the True Jesus Church. How do we view the time leading up to this milestone? Do we see it as a long hiatus or a brief interlude? It depends on whose perspective you take: man’s, whose concept of time is inherently constrained, or God’s, whose outlook stretches to eternity.

The Church’s Role in the End Time

In the Gospel of Mark, we learn of two beginnings: the first is the “beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Mk 1:1), while the second is the beginning of His tribulations (Mk 14). These two beginnings remind us to discern the time. This order is also echoed in the Gospel of Matthew, where the parable of the sower highlights the propagation of God’s word (Mt 13:3–23), followed by the parable of the dragnet (Mt 13:47–50), which brings our attention to the “end of the age,” or the end of the world. This “end of the age” refers to a period filled with tribulation (Mt 24). As the Lord Jesus later explained in the parable of the fig tree (Mt 24:32–33), we understand that the appearance of leaves heralds the coming summer, so we should discern the signs that precede the Son of Man’s second coming. We may not know the exact date, but we know that when the gospel of the kingdom has been preached to all the world, then the end will come (Mt 24:14).

The True Jesus Church is tasked to preach the gospel to the whole world. This is not easy. Those who believe in God will agree that the current generation is characterized by sin: rebellion towards God, unbelief, and immorality. Without God’s presence, there is a void in people’s hearts. Many are searching for something to fill that void: enjoyment, alcohol and drugs, pursuit of knowledge and power, as well as dabbling in “spirituality” and “self-discovery.” Despite these, the true church has a vital role to play: she must be the messenger who delivers the gospel of salvation to enlighten humankind.

Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” (Rev 14:6–7)

However, when the True Jesus Church undertakes this commission in earnest, Satan will oppose—with heretical teachings from within and hostile reception from without. In Matthew 24:24, Jesus forewarns of false prophets emerging to deceive even the elect. These events will happen because Satan knows his time is limited (Rev 12:12). Members of the True Jesus Church must take care to discern between truth and untruth, and to understand the will of God.  

DISCERN THE TRUTH

Heresies are not a new phenomenon. When the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, he warned of people preaching another Jesus, another spirit, or a different gospel (2 Cor 11:4). In the current times, the surfacing of heresies should not surprise us, as man’s heart is corrupt. People have access to a myriad of channels to share information quickly and widely, courtesy of the internet, spreading not only fake news but also fake gospels. More than ever, we need God’s wisdom to discern between fact and fiction. We can learn from God’s faithful followers of the past, such as Noah, who was able to walk determinedly with God and preach a message of righteousness, calling people to repentance.

The question is, how do we know we have God’s wisdom? Elder James says the evidence is in our good conduct (Jas 3:13). We will display wisdom that is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (Jas 3:17) and brings peace to others (Jas 3:18). In other words, when people spread a message that leads to chaos and factions, we know that it is not from God; such messages arise from pride and jealousy. The proponents are false prophets of whom Jesus has warned us. The Lord Jesus says that true Christians are the salt and light of the world, bringing flavor and light to the lives of others (Mt 5:13–16). These Christians are good trees that bear good fruit (Mt 7:17). We must pray for God’s wisdom to be discerning.

United in One Faith

The Lord Jesus advises us to build our faith upon the rock so that we will have a firm foundation that will not be shaken, even when faced with adverse environmental factors (Mt 7:24–25). That Rock should be Jesus Himself, not a fallible human being. The question is, are we led by Jesus’ Spirit and His word, or are we influenced by personal ties and feelings towards other individuals? We must hold tight to the truth of the Bible and be clear about our faith.

Paul says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Cor 10:23). Do we live our lives to glorify God and edify others? It is essential that in whatever we do, we strive to have a clear conscience and not cause others to stumble. We aim to avoid divisions and be “perfectly joined together in the same mind” (1 Cor 1:10), and that is, to be united in Christ.  

CARRYING OUT OUR COMMISSION

The one-hundredth anniversary of the True Jesus Church and the fiftieth anniversary of the IA are appropriate junctures at which to reflect on our faith. As we turn the pages of commemorative publications to view photos of the past, what comes to mind? Hopefully, they make us evaluate our faith at a global level, as well as national, local, and personal ones. Have we made progress? Is the faith of our generation better than that of the last? Has our zeal for preaching the gospel increased or diminished? Are we sharing the precious faith imparted to us by previous generations with our children and grandchildren? Believers in those old photos will gradually pass on over time, and we must pass the baton of faith to future generations. We can do this by strengthening the faith of our nearest and dearest, by building the family altar, and by bringing back the lost sheep in our immediate circles. However, to do this, we need to have Paul’s attitude, namely, the willingness to live for Christ (Phil 1:21), prioritizing God’s will over our own. The Lord has given us different gifts. We must willingly offer them for God's use to prosper His ministry.

When the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven after His resurrection, the disciples watched in awe as He was carried away in the cloud. Two angels interrupted their reverie by saying, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?” (Acts 1:11). Today, we may well be asked the same question if we think it is acceptable to rest until Jesus returns. In reality, we have much work to do: we must testify for the Lord Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Are we willing to carry out the Lord’s command?  

Uphold the Faith

As members of the True Jesus Church, we need to do our best to uphold God’s commandments. They include observing the holy Sabbath, which is Saturday, the seventh day of the week. It is helpful to ask ourselves, are we observing this day joyfully, with the belief that it is a blessing, or are we keeping it grudgingly? It is only when we have the correct attitude that we will honor God and refrain from following our desires. In January 2019, I visited our brethren in South Africa. There, I learned that almost every family had been robbed at some point. There was one member who had survived despite being shot nine times. He had gone to South Africa intending to make money and he worked hard all week, chasing his dream. However, once he was faced with his mortality, he knew he had to return to God. The number of members observing the Sabbath in South Africa has been increasing over time, as more have realized the need to keep God’s commandments.

Another commandment that we should uphold is tithing. In the Book of Malachi, God reminds His people to bring their tithes and offerings into His house, with the promise of abundant blessings (Mal 3:10). He warned them that failure to do so was tantamount to robbery (Mal 3:8–9). Today, if only some members offer tithes, how will the house of God be supported, and how can the church ministry flourish? In Taiwan, there have been various campaigns in the church: to remind members to offer tithes, to do charitable works, and to leave a donation in their will for church ministry. Over ten years ago, there was a particular campaign encouraging members to offer one coin per day. Many members took part in this fundraising effort, and they raised a substantial sum. We can imagine the outcomes of such a campaign if it were run today. For example, in Taiwan, we have fifty thousand members. If even ten thousand members were willing to offer a coin each day, their efforts would result in USD 1.2 million a year. What a significant impact this would have on the church work—on evangelism, literary ministry, and internet ministry.

The Harvest is Great

Funding is only one issue; the need for workers is another. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Lk 10:2). If we look at our local churches, we see that this is indeed the situation. We have aging workers. Very few youths are coming forward to serve as full-time workers. This is not because we lack gifted members; we thank God that we have many members in our churches with spiritual gifts. The issue is a lack of members willing to serve God full time. We can take heart that God’s Spirit will empower those who come forward; they need not rely on their abilities, nor indeed should they do so. When a worker has “fellowship in the gospel,” God will accomplish His work through him (Phil 1:5–6). All he needs to do is pray and rely on God.

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor 6:1–2)

May God move us to serve Him all the more as the day of His coming approaches, and may we work together in unity to accomplish His will.  May He also grant us the spiritual eyesight to appraise our current time and inspire us to work together to prosper the gospel. Amen.

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