Ask & Seek
The claim that God cannot be known is self-contradictory. If we cannot know anything about God, how can we know God so well to know that He cannot be known? It is like saying, “I believe it is not possible to believe anything.”
Until we can confidently explain how we came to be, and why we exist, we cannot confidently say, “There is no God.” But it is equally impossible to suspend our judgment about matters of faith because religious beliefs are not just intellectual theories. Jesus tells us that whoever believes in Him is saved, but whoever does not believe in Him stands condemned. If we refuse to believe Him based on the rationale that we cannot possibly know anything about God, then we already have made a decision to be an unbeliever.
Blaise Pascal, the French scientist, mathematician and founder of modern probability, formulated this wager: if we bet God exists, then even if we are wrong, we have lost nothing, for in the end, we would be left with eternal nonexistence. If we bet against God, and if we are wrong, then in the end, we have lost everything: heaven, eternal life with Him, and infinite joy and gain.
We owe it to ourselves, but moreover, we owe it to God, to examine the evidence carefully and open-mindedly, before we make our choice.
While it is the promise of God, receiving the Holy Spirit requires prayer and asking on our part. Luke 11:13 and John 4:10 clearly illustrate this point. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit is also contingent upon the obedience of the Lord’s instructions (Mt 28:20; Acts 5:32). Praying for the Holy Spirit does not deny the authority of God; instead, it is a natural expression of our faith (Mt 15:22-28; Rom 10:14), earnestness (Lk 11:5-8), and persistence (Lk 18:1-8).
The Lord Jesus told the disciples of the importance of receiving the Holy Spirit and specifically instructed them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit (Lk 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). The disciples themselves must have been eager to receive the Holy Spirit, which explains why they prayed constantly (see Acts 1:14). In context, we know they must have continued waiting through prayer, based on Jesus’ promise, until it was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out.
When a person receives the Holy Spirit, God gives a sign to show that the Holy Spirit is in him. The sign is the speaking of tongues, or the ability to speak in an unknown language that only God can understand (1 Cor 14:2). The speaking of tongues is a profound communion with God, for prayer and for praising God.
When God poured out His promised Holy Spirit for the first time on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the believers began to speak in tongues. Since then, whenever the Holy Spirit came upon the believers, it was evidenced by the speaking of tongues. Anyone who has not had this experience has not yet received the Holy Spirit, because speaking in tongues is the necessary evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit (see Acts 10:45-47).
Receiving the Holy Spirit is an experience that is audible and very often visible. It is audible because of the sign of speaking in tongues. It is often visible by the movement of the body, although this is not a necessary sign. The disciples of the Lord Jesus said that they as well as the observers could “see and hear” the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:33).
The Holy Spirit continues to be received the same way by believers today (Acts 2:38–39). When we receive the Holy Spirit, we, too, will speak in tongues, like the early Christians (Acts 2:1–4; 10:44–46; 19:6).
Since the church is the body of Christ, the church is closely related to our salvation. The Lord Jesus imparts His salvation through His church. He sends out workers and gives His church the authority and power to forgive sins (Jn 2:21-23; Mt 16:18-19). Baptism, footwashing, and Holy Communion, all of which have to do with a believer’s salvation, are performed by the church.
Therefore, to accept the church is to accept Christ and to be saved is to become a member of the body of Christ. How can a person believe in Christ yet refuse to be a member of the body of Christ? True believers of Jesus Christ are members of the same body, the church (1 Cor 12:12-13, 27-28). Christ is the Savior of the entire body, not of separate body parts. Therefore, we are not saved apart from the church, but as part of the whole church (Eph 5:23-27; also Acts 20:28).
The Lord promises to be with us when we gather in His name (Mt 18:20). He blesses us when we worship Him through songs and prayer, and as we study His word through sermons and discussions. The Bible also clearly tells us not to neglect meeting together, but to strengthen each other’s faith so that we will meet our Lord with confidence when He comes again (Heb 10:24,25).
The Lord Jesus also taught us to love and serve one another. By meeting with brothers and sisters in the church, we can edify one another with spiritual gifts (Eph 4:11-12,16). By combining our efforts, we can spread the word of God more effectively. Furthermore, through spiritual growth and unity, the body of Christ can be built up to become the dwelling of God’s Spirit (Eph 2:19-22) and be prepared as the bride of Christ (Rev 19:7; 21:2).
This name is not intended to condemn anyone; but this does not make the church any less true. The word “true” is used because the Bible emphasizes that God and Jesus are true. Thus, the name best reflects the nature of the church as belonging to the “True God” (Isa 65:16; Jer 10:10; Jn 7:28,17:3; Rom 3:4; 1 Jn 5:20) and the “True Jesus” (Jn 1:9,14:6,15:1; 1 Jn 5:20; Rev 6:10).
Since believers are branches of the true vine and they constitute the church—the body of Christ—it follows that the church is also the “True Church”.
Essentially, the church is not just “true” in name but also in substance. The True Jesus Church preaches the complete gospel of salvation, has the presence of the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by signs and miracles. In other words, the Holy Spirit abides with the church to testify that this church preaches the truth and is indeed the true Church (Heb 2:3-4; Eph 1:13-14; 2:22).
We need to believe in Jesus because He is the Christ, the Savior of the world (Jn 4:42). Out of His great love, He came into this world as a human being to experience our weakness, to feel our pain, to bear the punishment for our sin, and to bring us back to Himself. As it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” We must believe in Jesus not only because of His self-sacrificing love, but because only through Him can we have everlasting life. Acts 4:12 also tells us, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Jesus has accomplished the hardest part already, and now it is up to us to accept this precious gift of salvation. We need to believe in Jesus because our destiny is at stake. Whoever neglects so great a salvation will surely perish (Heb 2:3).
Today, many turn to Jesus only when they are faced with a crisis in life or with ailing health. However, believing in Jesus is not only for people with problems. We all need to believe in Jesus because He is our heavenly Father manifested in human form (Jn 14:9), who deeply cares for us and longs for us to return to Him (Mt 23:37). Only through Him can we have a life of true meaning and satisfaction (Jn 4:13-14).
What makes Christianity unique is that it is built upon Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11; Eph 2:20). We must choose a Christian faith because not all religions can bring us salvation. Different religions often offer completely opposite answers to our problems. For example, one religion teaches about a heavenly afterlife, while another denies that heaven exists at all. Which is right? Given that our entire existence is at stake, we have to find the answer—not just a plausible answer, but the right answer.
Faith in God is more than a lifestyle or some vague idea of meaning or value in life. Faith in God is finding the ultimate answer to our lives. It is about where we came from, why we live, and where we will end up. Without God, we are trapped in evil, sin, suffering, and death. But, through Jesus Christ, we can be saved from our afflictions and receive eternal life. This means that we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Believing in Christ is not just intellectually agreeing that He is Lord and Savior. Jesus said, “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” (Mt 7:21). True faith involves obeying the Lord’s words about salvation (Lk 6:46-49).
We are saved by grace through faith, but faith without deeds is not true faith (Jas 2:14-20). Even evil spirits believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Mt 8:28-29; Lk 4:41), but their belief is not true faith (Jas 2:19-20).
We need to follow what Jesus says to be saved. For example, regarding baptism He said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:16). We cannot dismiss the necessity of baptism since baptism itself is an act of belief and faith in Jesus Christ (see Acts 16:30-33).
Trying to do good is an admirable quality. But without God, no matter how hard we try, we can never be perfectly good because of sin in our nature and in our lives (see Rom 3:23). Trying to do good is just not good enough, because we can never save ourselves from sin (Rom 3:20).
Just because you are sincere, doesn’t mean you are right. Sincerity in religious matters is not good enough, just as it is insufficient in other situations: “Is it sufficient that your surgeon, your accountant or your travel agent be sincere? Is sincerity alone enough to save you from cancer, bankruptcy, accident or death? It is not. Why then do you think it should be enough to save you from hell?” (Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994], 323).
The only way we can fulfill God’s righteous standards is to rely on God. He has provided us salvation from sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The only way we can be saved is through faith in Jesus Christ, for He alone can deliver us from sin and judgment (Eph 2:8-9). This is not by our works of righteousness, but according to His mercy (Titus 3:5).
Although there are many interpretations, when it comes to the truth of salvation, there can be only one true gospel (Gal 1:6-9; Eph 4:4-6). For example, we either need to be baptized to be saved or we do not need baptism. Both cannot be true. We must study and find the true gospel that is according to the Bible.
The truth of the gospel does not come from academic research but from the direct revelation of God through His Spirit (1 Cor 3:9-13; Gal 1:11-12). In the True Jesus Church, the gospel of salvation was revealed to the first believers by the Holy Spirit. We who have received the promised Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, also are able to understand and accept the true gospel today (Jn 16:13).
The interpretation that God confirms is the correct interpretation. Just as God sent fire from heaven to confirm the preaching of Elijah, God also confirms the truth of the gospel with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and miraculous signs (Heb 2:3-4; Mk 16:20; 1 Cor 2:4). Many of the signs God has given to the True Jesus Church are unique because they are directly related to our doctrines. For example, we know baptism administered in the name of the Lord Jesus has the power to forgive sins because many have witnessed blood in baptism. Also, we know that the Holy Spirit abides with the church because all who have received the Holy Spirit speak in tongues and have experienced God directly in prayer. All these wondrous deeds of God show that the truth the church preaches is from God.
The name of Jesus Christ is the only one under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:10,12). The disciples always baptized or instructed the people to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5). In Acts 19:4-5, the believers were re-baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Only through the name of Jesus is a person’s sin cleansed during baptism (Acts 2:38; 10:43).
The name “Jesus” carries authority and honor (Phil 2:9-11). Baptism administered in the name of the Lord Jesus has the power to heal and make new. God has also manifested His power when believers cast out demons in the name of the Lord Jesus. But it is not merely the recitation of the name that makes baptism effective or drives away evil spirits. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit and the promise of God that manifests God’s power in Jesus’ name.
When Jesus said to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19), He was not giving His disciples a baptismal formula to recite verbatim. Rather, immediately before this Jesus revealed that He had been given all authority in heaven and on earth (28:18). This tells us that because baptism is founded on the authority of Christ, it should be administered in His name. The Holy Spirit revealed to the disciples that the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is in fact “Jesus” (Jn 17:11). This is why they understood to baptize in the name of Jesus and consistently did so after the Pentecost.
The Sabbath was instituted in the very beginning (Gen 2:1-3; Ex 20:11), before the nation of Israel existed. At the time, there was no religion, no covenant, no law, no nation, no Jew or Gentile and, of course, no racial distinction. Jesus said the “Sabbath was made for man” (Mk 2:27)—not only for the Jews. The benefits and privileges of receiving rest, blessings, and sanctification from observing the seventh-day Sabbath are given to all mankind.
Remembering the Sabbath day is the fourth of the Ten Commandments. Even though they were first entrusted to the chosen people of the Old Testament, God’s commands are passed on to the chosen people of the New Testament (see Acts 7:38). The Ten Commandments have never been abolished; they still need to be kept by Christians today (Lk 18:18-20; 1 Cor 7:19; 1 Jn 5:2-3; Rev 14:12).
Isaiah’s prophecy that foreigners will keep the Sabbath further confirms that Gentile believers in the New Testament will keep God’s Sabbath (Isa 56:6-7). So Sabbath observance isn’t just limited to the Israelite nation.