“So do you have any plans this weekend?” This is a common question we all hear as we get closer to the end of each week. When I was young, after hearing about all the fun and exciting things my friends had planned for the weekend, I would usually answer in a sheepish way, “Uh… no, not really,” and the conversation would move on without me. In reality, I always had something planned for the weekend – every week, my family and I go to church to keep the Sabbath day. But back then, I was afraid of telling my friends about it because I was afraid of being different, of standing out from the crowd. Nowadays though, if you ask me what I’m doing for the weekend, I’ll probably still say, “Nothing much.” But, I’ll also say, “I am going to church though!” What changed my mind?
The biblical premise is that the Holy Spirit functions uniquely and differently after the ascension of Christ. However, the multiple functions of the Spirit do not invalidate the teaching on ‘there is only one Spirit’. The Holy Spirit (HS) and the Promised Holy Spirit (PHS) are one and the same. Post-ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon a person is always accompanied by the utterance of tongues (Acts 2:4).
Unfortunately, some now claim that while the HS and the PHS are the same, they are also very different (the proponents do not specify the difference either in roles or manifestations). According to this line of thought, when one is baptised one receives the HS to become a child of God. Praying for the indwelling of the PHS subsequently enables one to be empowered to testify for God. Such a proposition is willed to pave a way for explaining the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in radicalism. But this proposition completely deviates from the pattern of biblical doctrine. Continue reading
Undergoing the Water Baptism (WB) and receiving the Holy Spirit (HS) are two separate occurrences. They are to be received, in order for us to be saved. We intend to show from the Bible that there is an indisputable distinction between them.
Jesus is the first to talk about both: ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’ (Jn 3:5). We all know that being born of the water refers uniquely to undergoing the WB. In fact, the word ‘baptism’ is nowhere to be found in the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus. But, we all silently agree and faithfully believe that this is the case. Likewise, we all believe that being born of the Spirit refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit (receiving the Spirit). Nevertheless, this promise of Christ (Lk 24:48; Acts 1:5) only came to pass after the ascension of Christ (Acts 2:2ff). The receiving of the Spirit didn’t occur when the believers accepted the WB while Jesus was still in the flesh. Also, when the Spirit first came on Pentecost, none were undergoing the WB. Continue reading
Water baptism in Christianity is not a straightforward matter. There are some who believe that it is important for salvation. Yet there are some people who do believe it is sort of important. They believe if you are not baptised then you will still be saved because the criminal also crucified beside Lord Jesus was saved since he believed and yet was not baptised (Lk 23.39-43). To these people we will need to let them know that when Lord Jesus was on earth He had the power to say to this person or that person their sins are forgiven (Mk 2.10). But after Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, how was He to forgive our sins?
One way of explaining is through the example of Paul.
We know that Paul did not believe in the Lord Jesus until he met Him on the way to Damascus. For up to that point, Paul was persecuting the church. But when the Lord Jesus appeared to Paul, he was told to wait in Damascus and that he would be told what to do (Acts 9:6).
Subsequently, the Lord Jesus sent Ananias to Paul and it was through his servant that Paul knew what Jesus wanted him to do. Ananias said to him, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Continue reading
Hundreds of believers gather early and expectantly in the chapel before the scheduled prayer session. Prayer with one accord begins. The thirst for the Spirit’s infilling is reflected on each earnest and sincere face.
This typical scene of a session to pray for the Holy Spirit is one familiar to all of us in the True Jesus Church. It has been the same heartening and touching scene from the day of the Church’s establishment, no matter which True Jesus Church we visit. The people may look different, their food, clothes and language unfamiliar, but the urgency with which the Spirit is supplicated is one and the same.
Notwithstanding the plethora of comforting testimonies of the Holy Spirit’s downpour, a fundamental question is whether there is biblical basis for this practice of praying for the Holy Spirit. The Bible, not human emotion nor tradition, is the standard for all religious practices; whatever the church does must be rooted in the word of God. Religious practices without biblical substantiation very often are recipes for confusion and division in the face of multiplicity of contradictions. Continue reading