Discernment in the Days of the Latter Rain
Manna 83: Spring

KC Tsai—Toronto, Canada

 

 

“Be glad then, you children of Zion,

And rejoice in the LORD your God;

For He has given you the former rain faithfully,

And He will cause the rain to come down for you—

The former rain,

And the latter rain in the first month…

And it shall come to pass afterward

That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

Your old men shall dream dreams,

Your young men shall see visions.

And also on My menservants and on My maidservants

I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:

Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.

The sun shall be turned into darkness,

And the moon into blood,

Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. (Joel 2:23, 28–31)

 

Joel’s prophecy describes the period in which we now find ourselves—the time of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit. This is when the Spirit will establish the second temple, which is the restored and revived apostolic church (Zech 4:6; Amos 9:11). The True Jesus Church is that very temple, established when the latter rain of the Holy Spirit first descended in China a century ago; her mission is to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ at judgment day (Isa 40:3).

 

During the springtime of God’s salvation plan, the fulfillment of so many prophecies spoken by Jesus and the prophets is proof of God’s faithfulness. God has given us all we need to know to be saved. We just need to hold fast, to trust and obey His word. However, the Lord Jesus prophesied that prior to His second coming and the end of the world, “many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Mt 24:10–11). He also said, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Mt 24:24).

 

The words of the Lord shall go forth from His mouth, and shall not return to Him void (Isa 55:11)—prior to the last day, many will abandon the truth and depart from the church!

 

Discernment of the truth takes place in the hearts of man and cannot be compelled. Every member of the true church must make the choice to firmly believe, or else be deceived (Deut 30:19–20). Our fellow brothers and sisters are unable to keep us from deception, they can only pray for the Lord to preserve us (Rev 22:10–12). While the church should provide timely guidance in biblical exposition, every believer must strive to grow in the knowledge of the truth by relying on wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

 

 

PERFECTING THE SAINTS

 

And [Christ] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. (Eph 4:11–12)

 

This passage describes how our Lord Jesus has bestowed different gifts on different members within the church, making them His servants. He gave these servants various commissions and responsibilities, in order to equip all believers. This is to ensure that believers are grounded in faith, that they grow in spirituality, actively participate in various divine works, and cooperate with one accord to establish the body of Christ, which is the church.

 

Knowing that believers are bound to encounter various challenges in the discernment of the truth, training provided by the church should not focus only on the application of biblical principles to daily life. The church must also guide the believers in accurate exposition of the Bible. All Scriptures are inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16). Through the apostles’ understanding of the Scriptures, God’s words were brought into the lives of men so that men might receive eternal life (Jn 5:39–40). Therefore the Bible is complete, and each part complements the rest. Wisdom in discerning the truth prevents man from expounding individual verses out of context, or becoming deceived by incomplete biblical exegesis.

 

 

COME TO THE UNITY OF THE FAITH

 

Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:13)

 

The growth of the church is defined not just by the increase in the number of churches or number of believers. It also refers to the state where all believers have a common faith in the truth and a common knowledge of the Lord Jesus. The perfect church strongly affirms Jesus’ commandment: love one another [agapaō]; as I have loved you [agapaō], that you also love one another [agapaō]” (Jn 13:34). This type of love (agapē) is to show concern for one another’s everlasting life, to love in spirit and in truth (2 Pet 1:7). The love expected by the Lord is not only love between friends, lovers or family members, for this is fleshly love (phileō). The love that He expects of us is that of a higher level, that is, love which bears responsibility for the eternal life of others.

 

All believers should strive to grow in spirituality and knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Pet 1:8–11), to love one another by being responsible for one another’s everlasting life. Only in this way will the church grow to become a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

 

 

NO LONGER BE CHILDREN

 

That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. (Eph 4:14)

 

Paul said believers who are babes in the teachings of Christ are not spiritual but carnal. These individuals cannot eat solid food but only drink milk; they do not have the wisdom and knowledge to discern the truth, and there is envy and strife among them (1 Cor 3:1–15). What Paul meant was that these people often judge others and behave in a carnal manner, thus making them vulnerable to the deceptions and ploys of others. Such people are unable to discern teachings which have deviated from the truth, but are tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.

 

Any individual’s own interpretation of the Bible should be avoided on the pulpit of the true church (2 Pet 1:20–21). Famous sayings of prominent people or folk wisdom should not be used to replace the Bible as a basis for spiritual instruction (1 Tim 4:6–11). Inspiration that stems from individual will or worldly viewpoints may not be spiritually edifying. Worse, it may even distract from our focus on seeking and understanding the words of God. Importantly, each believer should accept training from the church in how to carry out proper biblical exegesis, so that we can understand the message in the context of the time in which it was delivered, and the original intent of the source passage. Only then can we apply these teachings to our present-day lives, without taking them out of context. This is how we can allow God’s words to move the hearts of man through His unique power, bringing about spiritual transformation.

 

The word of God is settled in heaven forever (Ps 119:89). The truth of salvation has been entrusted once for all and will never change (Jud 1:3). However, man changes—even Paul himself could not guarantee that he would not preach something different from what he had preached at the beginning. This is why he said, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach [present tense] any other gospel to you than what we have preached [past tense] to you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8). What had been preached at the beginning is the pattern of sound words (ie., doctrine; 2 Tim 1:13; 1 Tim 4:6). If the teachings delivered today differ from the pattern of sound words, we must discern and be watchful of such teachings and whether the person delivering them is a false prophet.

 

A mature believer is one who is able to deliberate in a calm manner, be deeply rooted in faith, and have faith in the omniscience of the Lord. He knows that God searches all things and has sovereignty over all things. He will never make an inappropriate or abrupt judgment, overlook the truth, or yield to temptation to depart from the grace of salvation.

 

 

BUILD YOURSELF UP IN LOVE

 

The Lord Jesus taught people the way to discern false prophets. He said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7:15–16). For good fruit trees will bear good fruits, and bad trees will bear bad fruits. They can thus be recognized based on their fruits (Mt 7:17–20).

 

The workers of God should pursue wisdom from above, which is pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy, making peace, sowing in peace the fruit of righteousness (Jas 3:13–18). If a worker stirs up division in the church, causing members to fall away, then the fruits of their speech and actions are bad, and they are false prophets.

 

The Lord Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” He continued, I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (Jn 15:5–6).

 

“You are the branches”—in the context of that era—refers to the apostles. However, the words of the Lord are everlasting. The branches also represent the individual believers, as well as the churches throughout the world. There can only be one consequence for those who depart from the Lord Jesus, the true vine—they will wither away. There is only one body of the Lord Jesus, which has been purchased with His own blood—“the church of God”—the entire true church (Acts 20:28).

 

Rather, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Eph 4:15–16)

 

“Rather, speaking the truth in love”—this means that the church should esteem the teaching of the truth, this is genuine love (agapē), for the truth is in the love of the Lord. When effort is continuously put into this aspect, the church will grow in all areas in accordance with the mind of Christ, who is the head of the church. On one level, we serve Him to the utmost of our ability in accordance to His will; on another level, we complement one another in divine work. In this way, the entire church will certainly grow and be established in love.

 

This is the process of perfection that the church is continually undergoing. It is without doubt that the church will one day be perfected in the unity of faith, and prepared for the arrival of her bridegroom (Rev 21:2–3). Every individual believer must ensure that he or she remains in the truth, to be part of this saved congregation. Therefore, being able to discern between the truth and false teachings is crucial. Since we are in the period of the latter rain, just before the judgment day, it is even more urgent for believers to stand firm in the knowledge of the truth, and to pray for wisdom to be able to discern.

 

Date
Jul. 13, 2017
Author
KC Tsai
Publisher
True Jesus Church
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