The cult, True Jesus Church, teaches its followers that foot washing is a sacrament. It is equally important as baptism and necessary in order to be saved. In an articled titled “Why Do I need To Receive Footwashing” the True Jesus Church responds with heretical brevity.
“If I do not wash you, you have no part with me,” Jesus said (Jn 13:8). Footwashing is not a symbolic ritual. It is a command from the Lord that you obey in order to have a part in His life.
Quoting John 13:8 in this way is deceptive, for it is a partial quotation. The first half of the verse indicates to the most cursory reader that Jesus is responding to a half-baked comment from Peter:
8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”
Had Jesus merely thrown out this sentence with no context whatsoever it may rightly be concluded that foot washing was a very important ritual which Christ had intended his followers to continue practicing. But even this verse is couched in a larger context. I quote John 13:6-11:
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
In context, Jesus and the disciples are preparing for the Passover meal. In the custom of their day a servant would normally wash the guest’s feet which were filthy from wearing sandals all day. Jesus, desiring to demonstrate humility and service, began to perform this lowly task (John 13:3-5). Simon Peter, who did not fully understand this act, objected (v. 6). Jesus explained that he would later come to realize what it meant (v. 7). Peter retorts that he would never allow Jesus to wash his feet (further demonstrating his lack of understanding at that time, v. 8a). Jesus replies that this act was important, he would not have a share with him otherwise (v. 8b). Peter must have been caught off guard for he replies that he would not only have Christ wash his feet, but also his hands and head (v. 9). Peter clearly went overboard this time, Jesus was demonstrating servant-leadership by a reversal of a custom that was prevalent in that society. The custom didn’t involve a full bath (as peter had just asked for), but simply the cleaning of feet which were dusty and dirty from walking around the desert during the day (v. 10). Remember that Judas was still present with the disciples (John 13:2) and Jesus was aware of this (v. 10-11).
The article continues,
God’s saving grace doesn’t end at baptism. His grace is a life-long gift. In order to participate in this lasting relationship, you need to accept footwashing from the Lord.
The True Jesus Church believes that the act of baptism enacts a “spiritual transformation”
The Bible calls baptism the “washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5) because it effects a spiritual transformation. When you are immersed in the living water, your sinful being dies and is buried, and you are clothed with a new life—the life of Jesus Christ (Col 2:11-13). [link]
Lest anyone think that they are not discussing the physical act of imersing one’s body into water, they add the following:
The moment you come up out of the water, you become a new being who has escaped the punishment of your sins and possesses the hope of eternal life. [link]
God’s “saving grace” is attained through baptism as well as through foot washing, according to True Jesus Church. Back to the foot washing article:
Like baptism, footwashing is a sacrament: a physical action the Lord commanded His believers to receive that carries the spiritual effect of salvation. Through baptism, the Lord Jesus cleanses us of all our past sins. Through footwashing, He prepares our feet to walk in the path that He has already laid: the way of righteousness that leads to His kingdom.
Here, Christ’s work on behalf of sinners is not sufficient to save. The True Jesus Church holds that each person must add their own ritual contribution to make salvation happen. A church strays into heresy whenever they teach that the spiritual realities of these symbols are the result of the work of human participants rather than the work of God.
In other words a legitimate Christian church could practice foot washing to represent their attitude of humility and desire to serve one another. This is not commanded or forbidden in the Bible. This would not be the same as saying that the physical act of foot washing is needed in order for God to prepare us to live righteously. God has given us his Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and enable us to repent and choose the right course of action in any given situation.