The True Jesus Church?
The True Jesus Church is a nondenominational (Independent) church that originated in mainland China in the year 1917. The church was set up by native Chinese who wanted to follow the Bible and not the teachings of western denominations that they broke from. It spread throughout China, Southeast Asia, and other countries.
Chinas Christian history in the past has been hard and marked with bloodshed. In other ways, the Christianity that has flourished has had both good and bad elements because of extremes. In a number of statements by those involved in missionary work they note various problems, specifically mentioning the true Jesus Church. Let's look at a brief and condensed history of Chinas exposure to Christianity.
“The first missionaries, Nestorian Christians, reached China in A.D. 635 (Tang dynasty). Franciscan monks arrived in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (Yuan dynasty), and Jesuit missionaries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Ming dynasty). All of those early missionary attempts failed to take root in Chinese culture, and Christianity continued to be seen as a foreign religion.”( China: the Church’s Long March By David H. Adeney).Hudson Taylor came in 1854 and founded China Inland mission (CIM) in 1865. “The nineteenth century witnessed a great increase in the number of Christians. In 1900 there were almost 113,000 Protestant Christians with 1,600 Chinese Christian workers and 2,000 missionaries. During the early years of the twentieth century, that advance continued. CIM missionaries found that the witness of faithful Chinese Christians in the midst of persecution, and the attitude of the mission in not asking for indemnity, opened people's hearts to the gospel.
The CIM became the largest mission in China, emphasizing taking the message of salvation to unreached areas” (p.41 China: the Church’s Long March by David H. Adeney).
In our modern times, there were three influential groups in the early 1900’s in China. “1917 in Peking, a group known as the “True Jesus Church” had been founded by Chang Lin-shen. Then in 1921 Ching Tien-ying had founded the “Jesus Family” in Shauntang. Finally, in 1928, the Little Flock was launched in Shanghai by Nee Duo-Sheng” (Three of China’s Mighty men Leslie Lyall p.62-63 1973 by overseas Missionary Fellowship.) The Jesus family later fell into extreme Pentecostalism with an emphasis on dreams and visions and was forcibly disbanded by the communists in1953 (ibid. reference p.79). In his book he mentions the three mighty men that affected China as Yang Shao- T’ang, Nee Duo- Sheng, and Wang Ming- Dao.
In referring to the preaching of Watchman Nee who started the “Little Flock” between 1928 and 1950, “His teaching met a great contemporary need and, in spite of its extremes in certain respects, and its other-worldliness, it was more free from error than that which was current in both the True Jesus Church and the Jesus Family. In the case of the former, their theology of the Trinity seems to have been at fault, particularly in relation to the eternal Sonship of Christ. “Feet washing” was also regarded as an essential sacrament and the failure to practise it meant that one had no part in the Lord, according to a literal reading of Jesus' words in John 13.6-10”(p.78 Three of China’s Mighty men Leslie Lyall).
“In one province some believers would accept only the
four Gospels, rejecting the rest of the Bible. One man, having read the story
of Christ's baptism, insisted that he too must see a dove when he was
baptized. Others believed they should pray facing Jerusalem. When teaching is
incomplete, heresies can enter.’ “Some Christians have been led of one
kind or another. Led astray by extreme teaching teacher who claims to have a
special brand of truth that makes his people “superior” to others have
many followers.” “In some areas, Christians have been divided by
teaching given by groups claiming that they alone represent the true
Church.” (China: the Church’s Long March by David H. Adeney
As we look at the the True Jesus Church we will see the similarities that are called a special brand of truth “New Revelation.” The True Jesus Church believes that God prophesied that he would send the latter rain “through the Holy Spirit and is revival of The Church of the apostolic Days.” As promised by God and recorded in the Holy Bible, the True Jesus Church is the restored Apostolic Church in the end time” (1). This they claim descended in 1917 in the land of the rising sun, in Peking China. Three of their early workers were Paul Wei, Lingsheng Chang and Barnabas Chang were formally associated with other denominations until they received “The revelation of the perfect truth of salvation” (General Assembly tract-facts about the True Jesus Church).
There are a few basic things evangelical Christians may agree on with this church. They teach the Bible is God’s word, original sin, Christ being God in the flesh. But it is often what they mean and practice that can change a recognized doctrine. But they also hold to teachings that make them unique and exclusive, that develop into severe problems. This Church cannot be considered orthodox because of their exclusive statements and extreme interpretations of doctrine.
Their claim is that the Lord founded their church and personally revealed five doctrines of salvation to rebuild the church to the model of the church in the apostles time so they can preach the complete Gospel. These doctrines are: the baptism of the water and of the Holy Spirit for the washing of sins and the guarantee of eternal life, footwashing to have a portion in the Lord Jesus, Holy Communion and the Sabbath. They believe that the saving of one's soul is only possible by following God's complete plan of instruction in the Bible. This includes the need to repent and to be baptized “in the name of Jesus” only for the remission of sins (including a certain bodily position and in particular type of water) along with a number of these other requirements for salvation. Clearly, this is not grace through faith with all these other requirements, despite that they claim it is.
On the website: point number 5. they emphatically state “The True Jesus Church is the true church restored by God through the Holy Spirit of the latter rain. She is the revival of the apostolic church in the end times.” They believe that they alone teach the restored truth of salvation that started from Beijing. Just as the gospel was spread from Jerusalem outwards in the days of the apostles theirs is the latter rain. Their Scripture justification is Isaiah 2:2 (which happens to take place in the millennium, not now). They believe after a few decades the Gospel went to every province of China then expanded to other parts of Asia. They claim “ the True Gospel has also reached countries in America, Africa, Europe and Australia.” In 1949, with the Communists coming to power in China, the church lost its freedom and underwent great persecution. They compare the church in Taiwan, to the church in Antioch in former times. In 1985 the International Assembly was relocated from Taiwan to Los Angeles. Their purpose is to preach to the nations of the world, to unify the doctrines, help the local churches, and bring the gospel to countries that had not yet received it. They say the gospel was bought to the US in 1930. 1979 the gospel was brought to Africa. Missionaries from China brought the “true gospel” to Hawaii in 1930 and began the church here in 1932.
It becomes apparent from their writings that they are claiming that there was no true teaching or gospel to these areas until they came along. Let me quote them again to make this clear: “Until today, the True Gospel has also reached countries in America, Africa, Europe, and Australia” (True Jesus Church of Chicago). “The True Jesus Church is the true church restored by God.” By saying this they would have to reject some of the major influences by missionaries in China as well as men of influence from themselves, such as Watchman Nee.
In 1967 they formed the International Assembly (their administrative branch) in which they hold World Delegation Conferences every so often. (6 assemblies have been held to date).
The True Church is not a very large organization, but is active throughout various different countries (24) in the world. They consist of 419 churches, with 88,381 members. They are estimated in the millions in China.
In 1994 their Our Basics Belief lists their membership as 280,000 in
“In 1995, reliable sources also estimated that the membership in the People’s Republic of China has grown to approximately 1,000,000 members.”
Over 1,000,000 in
24 countries (Singapore website/ Saba website).
“At present, she has approximately 79,000 members in the free world, found in some twenty different countries on five major continents. In 1995, reliable sources also estimated that the membership in the People's Republic of China has grown to approximately 1,500,000 members” (True Jesus church Australian website). This means most of the true Christians in the world now reside in China according to their view.
Listed as present situation on the website “At present, she has approximately 80,000 members in the free world, found in some thirty different countries on five major continents.”
Their membership is also reported to be approximately 1,600,000 in 37 countries (includes
China) (UK web), another of their websites says Membership: 1.5 million in 39
Regardless of their own varied reporting, it becomes difficult to determine what is the more accurate number. We can see that there are very few Christians in the world today; at least according to them. The majority is located in China. I would not be one that agrees with statistics of 1.5 billion Christians that includes anyone who names the name Jesus; but what I am sure of, there are many more believers who live for Christ in the world then what they are saying belongs to their church. Not much of a Latter Rain (the Latter Rain position is that the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh).
Houses of Prayer consist of congregations of between 15 people and less than 30. The extent of their presence throughout the world is in a small number of church's. In the United States there were 15 churches, 2 houses of prayer; totaling 2,073 members. Now in 2003 there are 20 churches listed in the whole of the US, including the United States General Assembly. In Canada there are 3 churches. There are 22 churches, 7 houses of prayer in Korea. 22 churches, 4 houses of prayer in Malaysia. 2 in New Zealand. Australia has 4 churches. There are 5 churches, 10 houses of prayer in the Philippines’s. India has 9 churches, 5 in Thailand, Currently in Indonesia, there are 14 churches and 17 prayer houses. In 1997 there were 5,415 (Indonesian website). 5 in Hong Kong, 8 in Taiwan. There are 9 churches, 1 house of prayer located in the UK. 7 in Central and South America. 4 churches in Europe. 4 in Africa. 1 in Moscow Russia (year 2003 stats from web). If the true Jesus Church is of the Latter Rain it is barely a drizzle right now.
The True Jesus church states, “Until today, the TRUE GOSPEL has also reached countries in America, Africa, Europe, and Australia” (2). They also have their new founders to thank for their unique interpretations on what this gospel is. Of course they validate themselves like the other latter rain adherents by claiming: “signs and miracles confirmed the truth being preached” (Our Basic Beliefs). “We preach and uphold the complete gospel of salvation in accordance with the Scriptures and have signs and miracles from above to testify to the truth” (Australian website). They point to “Signs and wonders which attest to the mighty workings of God have further confirmed its claim as the restored Apostolic Church in the End Time”(3). There are numerous other groups that claim this same position as well. All the churches that lay claim to the latter rain falling on them claim to have signs, and apostolic authority; they too use this as the proof that they are of God. Zech.12:10 and Joel 2 show that the latter rain falls on the nation Israel to be saved just as it did at the first Pentecost, not on a certain church beginning in China.
Jesus warned that, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew. 7:21). He specifically warned of those claiming his name for their miracles in the end (Matthew 24) to validate their authenticity. Certainly God does do miracles but the miracle itself is not proof one is authentic and approved by God. In fact it just may prove they are not. It is by their doctrine as well as their unity with the body of Christ and the core teachings that Christians have ALWAYS held to.
There are many who take the position that the church was no longer there and needs a revelator or prophet to restore it. This is essentially what they are saying: “The True Jesus Church believes that she is the true church, restored by God Himself through His Holy Spirit” (Website). After quoting Saint Augustine on the two cities of God they state “Let us return to the true “City of God” today-the True Jesus Church!” (Website)
Their Name-- TRUE Jesus Church
They arrived at their name “True Jesus Church” because the word “True” denotes that God is true”' (8), that all that is described in the scripture is true. Since God has established the Church she should bear His name. God’s name is Jesus. “the Church must bear the name of Jesus, who is the mediator between God and man” (UK website). The name “True Jesus Church,” is claimed to be derived through divine inspiration, used by their early workers.
What’s wrong with this premise is that God has many names to express His attributes. Although Jesus' name is the highest for salvation, we do not see one church in the New Testament that calls themselves this name. Does this mean there was no true church until now? The body, temple, pillar and ground, bride, household of faith as well as the Church of Christ are all used to describe Jesus' church, but none were named the True Jesus Church. If we could only gather all the church's that claim to be the only true church into one room to settle this matter; but then they would not be enough room for all who make these exclusive claims. The fact is: it does not matter what biblical words are used for their church, what does matter is if they have correct teaching and the true gospel.
While it may not be their intention to say others are false by saying they are true. On their website “ The True Jesus Church believes that she is the true church, restored by God Himself through His Holy Spirit.” “A careful comparison between the apostolic Church and churches in our time would reveal that thousands have deviated from the gospel preached by the apostles” (UK Website).
Besides claiming to be the restored church of the latter rain she has qualifications “What qualifies a Church to be true? The true Church must meet the following criteria” (UK website). [this criteria will be discussed further as you go through this article]. By stating the doctrines that they exclusively believe one must follow to make them a true Christian, they are excluding ALL others. This should bring up red flags because of their exclusive claim to being the true church.
Their statement of salvation by grace through faith, the need of salvation and who saves is stated but how it is interpreted and practiced does have inherent problems. They say SALVATION is given by grace through faith, but it does not stop there. It depends how this is interpreted and applied. They misunderstand what the biblical definition of grace and faith means as they add numerous additional requirements as necessary for you to be saved. In their question: How Can I Be Saved? They state Believe (Acts 16:31); Repent (Acts 3:19); Be Baptized (Mark 16:16); Receive the Holy Spirit (John 3:5); Obey the Commandments (Matthew 7:21). Along with these are various commands one must obey to receive salvation which contradicts what grace through faith actually means. It is by faith one finds themselves in God's grace. Grace is unmerited favor, it is unrelated to any deed or work we might do, religious or non religious.
Of course these are biblical teachings and commands-but not all are for salvation, anymore than reading, studying, witnessing and praying are. If Jesus saves in other commands, rituals and requirements then the cross is not the salvation focus of their gospel. The blood of Jesus is diminished in its salvific work. No matter how biblical these commands are one must determine if they are in fact the gospel preached from the mouth of the apostles or commands to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ afterwards (Which I think is a more tenable position). The false view of legalism is to add law and ceremonies to be part of grace.
there is more: after quoting scriptures about one true body and Church they
write on their website “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one
comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). Therefore, one can receive
eternal life only through the true church.”
They state “the apostles were adamant that there is only
one gospel of Christ.” This is true, so we must go to what Jesus and the
apostles defined as the gospel along with their explanation of how one is
Is it Salvation by Grace through faith (in Christ's crucifixion and
resurrection) or... Salvation by Grace with faith -
plus baptism, plus tongues plus foot washing, plus communion, plus keeping the Sabbath,
Is it Salvation by Grace through faith (in Christ's crucifixion and resurrection) or... Salvation by Grace with faith - plus baptism, plus tongues plus foot washing, plus communion, plus keeping the Sabbath, plus...
Here we have two more requirements, baptism and the Gospel of salvation preached by the True Church. Orthodox Christians believe the Gospel is the “power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16), not the act of baptizing, Paul was not a sacramentalist but preached salvation by faith. When does one believe? Before Baptism! How? By hearing the Gospel (the message on Christ) and having faith people were saved and given the Holy Spirit. No one was baptized as an unbeliever. They received all the promises to a believer before undergoing water baptism.
Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” There is no physical work involved,
it is matter of the heart believing and repenting. Salvation has ALWAYS been by grace through faith, it was before the cross and it is now after
It is our faith that is essential to salvation. faith means trust, its object is always God, not baptism and other human work. We are saved
through faith alone by God’s grace. The gospel that saves a person from their sins contains nothing about baptism, good works, church membership
1 Cor. 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to
you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word
which I preached to you-- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which
I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” This is what Paul taught for one
to believe in for Christ to be their sin bearer and they to receive his righteousness.
1 Cor.15:1-4 is the Gospel ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES. This is the pure and simple gospel Paul says he delivered, and they received. Anything more or less is to believe in vain according to Paul.
It is belief that we see consistently gives one a new life. To truly believe in the heart, the inner man. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and (John 3:18; 12:44; 20:31; 1 John 5:13) believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and (John 3:18) does not come into judgment, but has (1 John 3:14) passed out of death into life.” Jesus himself states that if one TRULY believes they possess eternal life, which the Bible tells us is given By the Holy Spirit. The True Jesus Church states this is only step one in many steps.
1 Jn. 5:1 “ Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who (John 3:16; Acts 14:2; Heb 3:18) does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” The fact that one possesses eternal life by faith is a clear indication they have the Spirit of life, the Holy Spirit. This is the clears and simple teaching of the Bible.
Rom.1:16 “ for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation, for everyone who believes.” Notice to those who believe not those who are baptized. This is the consistent message by Paul who knew the law well.
One must be saved first to obey or they will not have the power on their own to do so. No one teaches just believe and you're ok, (if they do they are wrong). Faith is an active ingredient in ones life just as it was in Abraham’s. If there is real faith it will show by a changed life and we will be faithful and persevere. After we are saved we are baptized we pray and pursue to do all the commandments, but these are not the requirements FOR salvation but because we have received salvation.
Their claim is accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior is, just the first step in God’s plan of salvation. After believing in Jesus, you must repent of all your sins.
Did anyone ever repent of ALL their sins? Can anyone remember them all? (all means all). Isn’t that the majority of everyone’s life? This is not a Bible requirement though it may be commendable to try. Did the thief on the cross do this while Jesus was dying for our sin? (by the way He wasn’t baptized either).
Biblically to repent and believe are synonymous, sometimes repent is used as a substitute for believing. Its not an either or issue. If one truly believes they will repent. And repentance means to have a change of mind which will result in a change of life.
Continued pt 2 (baptism for salvation)
Documents information used -Our Basic Beliefs from the General Assembly, Words of Life booklets, and personal conversations.
*I do want to point out that there were a few quotes I had previously posted that were from the True Jesus mission that is no longer affiliated with the True Jesus Church. I had talked with them to clarify this. I was told that they were once affiliated with them and are not any longer because they not agree. These will be posted in another article in which a comparison chart that will show that they mainly do believe the same things. They hold to the same doctrines of salvation and the nature of God and although the quotes were not theirs, the meanings were essentially the same in salvation and keeping the commandments.