Martes, Mayo 5, 2015

THAT THEY MAY BE ONE

THAT THEY MAY BE ONE

Any church that claims to be truly Christians
ought to exhibit the essential characteristic of being united
in doctrine and practice.

Feljun B. Fuentes


UNITY IS ONE of the distinctive marks of the true Christian Church.  Any church that claims to be truly Christian ought to exhibit this essential characteristic.  Such that the failure of any claimant to possess and practice unity in the proper sense expressed in the Bible only proves that the church in question is not the true Church of Christ.  Only the true Church of Christ will possess genuine unity and this distinguishes it from the other so-called Christian churches.

     That genuine unity can only exist in the true Church is supported by the fact that Jesus did not speak of a plurality of churches.  He said that not everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven; only those who do the will of His Father will (cf. Mt. 7:21-23).  Hence, He does not acknowledge just any religion that recognizes Him.  The only religion He recognizes is that which does the will of God and obeys all of His commandments.

     The foregoing discussion will prove from the Scriptures that God intended His Church to remain truly united which makes unity a striking and exclusive mark of the Christian Church.


BIBLICAL BASIS FOR UNITY
     Unity in the Church of Christ is founded purely on the teachings of the Bible.  It is a doctrine that has been upheld by the people of God from ancient times to the present.  Both Old and New Testament Scriptures contain passages essentially supporting the practice and preservation of unity within the nation of God.  For instance, in Psalm 133:1, it is succinctly written:

     “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (New International Version)

     This biblical passage teaches that to dwell together in unity is both good and pleasant in the sight of God and even in the proper ordering of the lives of His people.  This biblical doctrine, however, is further confirmed by other verses of the New Testament.

     During the apostolic period or in the early Church, the Apostles wrote their epistle that contained appeals to the early Christians for unity.  When individual judgments and selfish motives threatened the unity of this society and created disunion and confusion among the brethren, the Apostles lost no time to exhort the brethren to maintain the unity of the organization.  With the same degree of conviction, they vehemently condemned disunity.  In one of his letters to the Christians, Apostle Paul made the following statements:

     “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (I Cor. 1:10, Revised Standard Version)


HOW UNITY IS EXPRESSED IN THE CHURCH
     Unity as has been practiced in true Christianity is absolute.  It is unequivocally expressed through a complete agreement in what the disciples should say by being perfectly united in the same mind and the same judgment.  Thus, the true Christian Church in her dedication to the exercise of unity is one in doctrine, in polity, in faith, and in worship.  Factions and dissensions were strongly discouraged and condemned.  Thus, the perfect execution of this unity is exclusively found in the true Church.

     Let us not, however, misconstrue this unity as a reaction to counter the persecutions that the Christians suffer or a desire to gain collective strength in order to accommodate mundane concerns or promote social and political ends.  The fact is, by being united, the chosen people of God glorify Him.  Apostle Paul was rather emphatic on this in the following biblical passage:

     “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,
     “so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 15:5-6, NIV)

     Bringing glory to God is premised on the unity of the Christians in following Jesus Christ with one heart and mouth.  The practice of worshipping God should be done through the collective efforts of the members of the Church.  How can a group of people be united in worshipping God or in bringing glory to Him when they are disunited in their beliefs, in their faith, in the administration of the Church or in their mind and judgment?  God will never find pleasure in being worshipped by servants who are divisive and conflicting.

     Aware that God Almighty is glorified by Christians who possess that spirit of humility and selflessness because these would enable them to translate the unity of the Church into concrete reality, Apostle Paul wrote the following:

     “Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
     “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
     “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.(Philip. 2:2-3, 12, Ibid.)

    
JESUS PRAYED FOR UNITY
     Unity in its concrete biblical essence can never be exercised by just any organization, not even by just any zealous religion.  Since it is a mark of the true Christian religion it has to be distinctively and exclusively found in the true Church.  The claim of any religion, therefore, becomes empty and meaningless should its constituents fail to be united.

     Before the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ into heaven, He uttered a prayer to His Father.  This prayer gives us an idea as to how distinctive a characteristic of the true Church unity must be.  A portion of that prayer goes like this:

     “And now I am coming to you; I am no longer in the word, but they are in the world.  Holy Father!  Keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one just as you and I are one.

“And now I am coming to you; I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world. Holy Father! Keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me,[a] so that they may be one just as you and I are one.  I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me. (Jn. 17:11, 23, Today’s English Version)

     As the Church of Christ that emerged in these last days has been prophesied to expand to various countries worldwide, there exists the danger that private judgments of the individual members would create disunion and disharmony within the Church.  Disunity and dissensions might be fueled by the variety of the brethren’s opinions and by their various nationalistic inclinations.  In anticipations of this, Jesus Christ sought for the grace of the Almighty God against disunity and disharmony when He petitioned that the Church be perfectly united.

     Note that the unity intended by Jesus for His Church on earth is founded on the mutual love and concern of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  As the Father and the Son are completely united so should the Church be in its entirely.

     Clearly at this point, the prayer of the Lord Christ Jesus has become the safeguard for the unity of the Church.


MEANING AND SCOPE OF UNITY
     When the Church of Christ insists on the unity required by the Scriptures, it does not refer to the kind of unity flaunted by worldly organizations and other groups of people.  Unity in the Church of Christ is that which has, as its ultimate objective, to praise and bring glory to God (cf. Col. 3:17; I Pt. 4:11).  As this is so, unity within the true Church has its own inherent pattern.  The unity of its organization also follows certain scriptural principles.

     The singularity of the Church founded by Jesus Christ implies that all churches that differ from it is not the Church of Christ but a different organization.  It is even wrong to assume that all the so-called Christian religions or those that profess belief in the Lord Jesus Christ would make up the whole Church of Christ.  Putting them together under one umbrella organization while upholding conflicting doctrines is not the biblical notion of unity.  The Bible says:

     “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call,  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:4-6, RSV)

     Clearly then, there is only one Church of Christ, recognizing one Lord who is Jesus Christ, sharing with one another on hope, upholding one faith, the members of which have been baptized once into the body or Church, and recognizing only one God, the Father in heaven.  This is the oneness of the Church of Christ so that unity is distinctively its own.

     Indeed, it is in the nature of the Church organization that it is united, that unless it is so, it becomes improper to recognize it as the true Church.  The Church, properly so-called, is the body of Christ:

     “He is the head of the body, the church.”  (Col. 1:18, Ibid.)

     In his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul vividly described the nature of the Church as an organization, being composed of individual members working in perfect unity.  He said:

     “For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function,
     “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.(Rom. 12:4-5, Ibid.)

     What are counted as many are the members of the Church and not the religious bodies.  These members serve various functions within one organized unit.

     The arrangement of each part of this body or Church has been fashioned by God in such a way that the unity of the organization may be maintained and kept:

     “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
     “ so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other." (I Cor. 12:18, 25, NIV)

     Since it is God who put together the members of the body, it now becomes clear why, in reference to the early Christians, the Apostle Paul said:

     “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.(I Cor. 12:27, RSV)

     God has a purpose in putting together the parts of the body or the members of the Church of Christ.  He abhors discord or divisions among His chosen people.  By arranging the parts of the body according to His will, there will be no schism or discord in the body.  Instead, the members would have the same care for one another.

     When we speak of Christ being the head of the Church, we also imply that the members of the Church who are collectively referred to as His body, are under the spiritual obligation to perform their religious duties under His command.  Members, whose obedience is patterned after that of Jesus toward His Father (cf. Philip. 2:5, 8), neither reason out for themselves nor follow their own opinions against the commandments of God written in the Scriptures.  Indeed, members of the Church practice no righteousness of their own.  Apostle Paul explained this further in the following passage:

    And be completely united with him. I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith.(Philip 3:9, GNT)

     Total unity is to be preserved by the parts of the body of Christ or by the members of the Church.  In a physical human body, it is the head that should take complete control of the body by directing the movements and ensuring the coordination of the parts within the whole system.  Inside the church, Christ takes complete control over the lives of His servants.

     The nature of the unity in the Church is all the more understood by taking into account the manner by which Christ created “one new man from the two, thus making peace” (cf. Eph. 2:15).  Referred to here as the two that Christ created as one new man are Christ Himself and the Church—the head and the body (cf. Col. 1:18).  So that, to understand the organized functioning of the various parts of a physical human body means to understand also the organized unity that prevails in the Church of Christ.


PARADOXICAL REACTION TO PERFECT UNITY
     Among the various occasions when public attention focuses on the Iglesia ni Cristo is when the citizens are called upon to exercise their right of suffrage.  What attracts the attention of people is the fact that members of this Church cast their votes in perfect unity during elections or plebiscites.

     However, in proportion to their ability to understand the underlying principles behind this practice, people either admire or criticize this unity.  Some of them accuse the Church of interfering or involving in politics.  Others impute ignoble motives to the Church’s behavior.

     What is paradoxical here is that those who point accusing fingers at this Church for its solid unity in all aspects of its religious life are themselves avid and active proponents of unity.  They rally the whole nation or groups of people behind them to be united for a cause.  They ask politicians and partisan advocates to brush aside their differences and work for the common good.
     Surprisingly though, when they are confronted with the real honest-to-goodness unity exhibited by this Church, they mysteriously forget their hossanahs for unity.  Furthermore, they cast thunderbolts at the entity practicing what they themselves advocate.

     It must be noted that the Iglesia ni Cristo practices unity not during elections alone.  Unity as a mark of the true Church is a principle that it consistently upholds in every aspect of the Christian life.

     So, the Church of Christ itself is an organized whole.  And the Bible tells us that it is the work of God Himself that the members or parts of this body are set together.

     The Bible likewise defines the extent of unity that should be practiced in the Church.  The Church must be so united in such a way as to fulfill the biblical teaching that its members must be “liked-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philip. 2:2, Ibid.).  Apostle Paul indeed very emphatic when he added that, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit” (Philip. 2:3, Ibid.)  This eliminates all throughout even the smallest possible practice of divisiveness in the body of Christ.  Therefore, the Church is, and must continue to be, united in all endeavors that have to do with the members’ religious life.  This being done, the members of the Church have complied with the commandments of God.

     Finally, Apostle Paul explains that God is glorified when members of the Church of Christ are united in everything they think, say, and do (cf. Rom. 15:6).

     On the other hand, any form of disunity and schism in the Church of Christ is disdained by the Apostles as proven in the letters of Paul and James:

     “For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?
     “For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apol′los,” are you not merely men? (I Cor. 3:3-4, RSV)

     “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
     “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
     “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (Js. 3:14-16)

     Therefore, the slightest hint of disunity in the true Church is contradictory to the sanctity of its mission and existence.  The Bible requires that unity of the Church of Christ be upheld by its members at all times.  In this way, the God of love and peace will remain with the Church:

     “In the meantime, brothers, we wish you happiness; try to grow perfect; help one another.  Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (II Cor. 13:11, Jerusalem Bible)  *


Copied from PASUGO GOD’S MESSAGE/JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1992/VOLUME 44/NUMBER 1/PAGES 4-8



Biyernes, Mayo 1, 2015

MORE THAN SUNSHINE AND RAIN

MORE THAN SUNSHINE AND RAIN

By NICANOR P. TIOSEN


WHY ARE PEOPLE HESITANT and even adamant to seek the true Church Of Christ?  Why are many already contented and are thus complacently comfortable in the church they are in?
     “What for?” says a successful businessman and father of five who are equally successful in their respective careers.  “We’re living the good life!” he continues.

     “Mine is a worry-free existence.  I’ve been in this church for so long.  A member of good standing at that.  Moreover, I’ve received so much blessings here.  What do you make of it?  Surely, I cannot but be of God,” another quips.
     Indeed, today a lot of people associate having much in life (in terms of material holdings) to being of God and enjoying His providence, hence, not seeing the need of finding out if they are in the true church or not.  They find it superfluous, thus unnecessary, to change their religious affiliations.  And many even quote the Bible for what they think as pertinent verses to support their contention.

GOD FEEDS AND CLOTHES ALL
“God does not discriminate!”  And before an argument could ensue, they would cite our Lord Jesus Christ, thus:  “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?(Matt. 6:26, New International Version)
     “Didn’t our Lord Jesus Christ generally show the value of a human life, irrespective of a person’s religious affiliation?” they’d ask.   And to bolster their belief, they would continue appropriating for themselves our Lord Jesus Christ’s pronouncement, thus:  “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? (Matt. 6:30, Ibid.).


THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER
What this people did not realize is that Christ’s statement in Matthew 5:45 is a carryover from verses 43 and 44 where He mentioned about enemies and persecutors, thus giving His disciples specific instructions as to how they ought to deal with them.  Moreover, in Matthew 6:26 and 30, Christ was rebuking those who are of little faith, hence, making a distinction among His disciples regarding faith.  Had they been careful, they would have realized that Christ was pointing out the kind of faith some of His disciples have, hence, “… you of little faith,” He says.
     Another thing that people who regard material bounty as proof of being of God is that Christ Himself said that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45).


UNGODLY MEN AND
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
But is there really no difference?  In II Peter 3:7, this is stated, thus:  “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.(New King James Version).  Sadly, regarding Judgment Day, there are those who take it for granted.  Engrossed with one’s daily life, many barely, if ever, think about it.  Moreover, the wicked continue to flourish on earth making many skeptical but this should not come as a surprise because King David even then observed, thus:  I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.(Ps. 37:35, Ibid.).  They failed to notice though what the psalmist said earlier, thus:  “Don’t be worried on account of the wicked; don’t be jealous of those who do wrong.  They will soon disappear like grass that dries up; they will die like plants that wither” (Ps. 37:1-2, Today’s English Version).  This should be a fair warning to people wallowing in wickedness and a signal to those who are envious of others, who despite their doing evil, continue to thrive.  For King David said:  “… but sinners are completely destroyed, and their descendants are wiped out” (Ps. 37:38, Ibid.).
     On the other hand, to the righteous, King David instructs, thus:  “Seek your happiness in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desire.  Give yourself to the LORD; trust in him, and he will help you” (Ps. 37:4-5, Ibid.).  He also said:  “Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is future for the man of peace” (Ps. 37:37, NIV).


WHAT AWAITS THE MAN OF PEACE?
Certainly, the man of peace is he who has found the peace of God.  And the learned Apostle Paul taught where we find him, thus:  “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Col. 3:15, NKJV).  Those who have found real peace—the peace of God—are in one body or Church whose head is Christ (Col. 1:18, Ibid.)  Hence, they are in the Church Of Christ (Rom. 16:16, Ibid.).
     One may reason out though:  “But I have not done anything wrong to anybody, nor have I even thought badly of others!  Should I still join the Church Of Christ?”  Apostle Paul says:  “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?  … God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you’” (I Cor. 5:12-13, NIV).  God will judge those outside the Church.  And only one church existed then:  Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28,  Lamsa Translation).


LOVE MADE COMPLETE
Others say that by virtue of creation, they have received God’s loving kindness, hence living a prosperous life.  Truth is, none compares to the love that members of the Church Of Christ receive from God, the love that renders them confident on the day of Judgment, thus:  “In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment …” (I John 4:17, NIV).  One may have all the riches in the world, but if he is not saved on Judgment Day, then he is the most pitied.  His wealth shall become useless as Christ forewarns (Luke 9:25, Ibid.).  What is the proof that God’s complete love pertains to man’s attaining salvation?  In Psalms 91:14-16, this is stated, thus:  “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
 and show him my salvation.’” (Ibid.).


KEEPING GOD’S COMMANDMENT
Wealth, per se, is not evil, but it should not cause man to forget God and His commandments, one of which is to join the Church Of Christ.  Our Lord Jesus Christ who spoke what the Father told Him to (John 12:50, Ibid.) commands men to enter the fold or flock (John 10:9, Revised English Bible), or the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation).
     Must one then hesitate to join the Church Of Christ?  Must one have second thoughts and put to naught the God-given privilege of receiving from Him a blessing far greater than material wealth that people in this world are so concerned about?  Before it is too late, should one not think about it?  *


Copied from PASUGO GOD’S MESSAGE/FEBRUARY 2015/VOLUME 67/NUMBER 2/PAGES 28-29


Biyernes, Abril 10, 2015

PAANO MAKIKILALA ANG TUNAY NA TAGAPANGARAL?

PAANO MAKIKILALA
ANG TUNAY NA TAGAPANGARAL?

Ni TEOFILO C. RAMOS SR.


MARAMING NANGANGARAL NG relihiyon sa kasalukuyan.  Bawat isa sa kanila ay nag-aangkin na ang kanilang itinuturo ay siyang kaparaanan sa ikaliligtas ng tao sa araw ng Paghuhukom.  Bagaman iisa ang Biblia na kanilang pinagbabatayan, magkakaiba naman ang aral na kanilang itinuturo.  Sino kaya sa mga mangangaral na ito ang nagsasabi ng totoo?  Paano ba makikilala ang tunay na tagapangaral ng salita ng Diyos?

ANG TUNAY NA TAGAPANGARAL
     Ang Banal na Kasulatan ay may itinuturong pagkakakilanlan sa tunay na tagapangaral.  Ang isa sa mga ito ay mababasa sa Isaias 8:20:

     “Sa kautusan at sa patotoo! kung hindi sila magsalita ng ayon sa salitang ito, tunay na walang umaga sa kanila.

     Dito natin sukatin ang sinumang tagapangaral.  Ang isinasagisag ng umaga ay liwanag.  Sinumang tagapangaral  na hindi nagsasalita ayon sa kautusan at sa patotoo ay walang liwanag kundi pawang kadiliman!

     Ano ang ibig sabihin na magsalita ayon sa kautusan?  Saan ba naroon ang mga kautusan ng Diyos?  Sa II Timoteo 3:15-17 ay ganito ang sinasabi:

     “Mula pa sa pagkabata, alam mo nang ang Banal na Kasulatan ay nagtuturo ng daan ng kaligtasan sa pamamagitan ng pananalig kay Cristo Jesus.
     “Lahat ng kasulata’y kinasihan ng Diyos at magagamit sa pagtuturo ng katotohanan, sa pagpapabulaan sa maling aral, sa pagtutuwid sa likong gawain, at sa pag-akay sa matuwid na pamumuhay.
     “Sa gayon, ang lingkod ng Diyos ay magiging handa sa lahat ng mabubuting gawain.” (Magandang Balita Biblia)

     Sa Banal na Kasulatan o sa Biblia nakasulat ang mga katotohanan o ang mga salita ng Diyos na nagtuturo ng daan ng kaligtasan.

     Kapag wala sa Biblia o kaya’y lumalabag dito ang mga aral na itinuturo ng sinumang tagapangaral, ang gayong tagapangaral ay hindi tunay.

     Ano naman ang patotoo na dapat taglayin ng isang tagapangaral?  Sa Apocalipsis 19:10 ay ganito ang sinasabi:

     “At ako'y nagpatirapa sa kaniyang paanan upang siya'y aking sambahin. At sinasabi niya sa akin, Ingatan mong huwag gawin iyan: ako'y kapuwa mo alipin at ng iyong mga kapatid na mayroong patotoo ni Jesus: sumamba ka sa Dios: sapagka't ang patotoo ni Jesus ay siyang espiritu ng hula.

     Ang patotoo na dapat taglayin ng isang tunay na mangangaral ay ang espiritu ng hula.  Dapat munang tiyakin ng sinumang tagapakinig kung mayroong paunang salita ang Diyos sa tagapangaral na kaniyang pinakikinggan.  Dapat hanapin sa kaniya ang gawaing ipinagagawa ng Diyos.  Kung wala sa isang tagapangaral ang patotoo at ang kautusan ay walang umaga sakaniya.  Nasa kadiliman o wala sa katotohanan ang gayong tagapangaral.  Nangangahulugan na hindi tunay ang relihiyong kaniyang itinataguyod.

     Sino ang isa sa mga halimbawa ng tunay na tagapangaral ng mga salita ng Diyos?  Sino ang nagpapatotoo sa kaniyang karapatan?  Sa Juan 1:19, 23 ay ganito ang mababasa:

     “At ito ang patotoo ni Juan, nang suguin sa kaniya ng mga Judio mula sa Jerusalem ang mga saserdote at mga Levita upang sa kaniya'y itanong, Sino ka baga?
     “Sinabi niya, Ako ang tinig ng isang humihiyaw sa ilang, Tuwirin ninyo ang daan ng Panginoon, gaya ng sinabi ng propeta Isaias.

     Si Juan Bautista ay nangaral at inihayag ang kaniyang karapatan.   Sa kaniyang pangangaral ay sinabi niya na siya ang tinig ng isang humihiyaw sa ilang na maghahanda ng daan para sa Panginoon na hinulaan ni Propeta Isaias.  Hindi nakasulat ang pangalan ni Juan Bautista kundi ang gawaing kaniyang gagampanan.  Ang paliwanag ng katuparan ng hula ay ang hinuhulaan—si Juan Bautista.

     Pinatunayan ng ating Panginoong Jesucristo ang karapatan ni Juan Bautista sa Mateo 11:7-11:

     “Pag-alis ng mga alagad ni Juan, nagsalita si Jesus sa mga tao tungkol kay Juan:  ‘Bakit kayo lumabas sa ilang?  Ano ang ibig ninyong makita?  Isa bang tambo na inuugoy ng hangin?
     “Ano nga ang ibig ninyong makita?  Isang taong may maringal na kasuutan?  Ang mga nagdaramit ng maringal ay nasa palasyo ng hari!
     “Ano nga ba ang ibig ninyong makita?  Isang propeta?  Oo.  At sinasabi ko sa inyo, higit pa sa propeta
     “Sapagkat si Juan ang tinutukoy ng Kasulatan:  ‘Narito ang sugo ko na aking ipinadadalang mauuna sa iyo; ihahanda niya ang iyong daraanan’.
     “Sinasabi ko sa inyo:  sa mga isinilang, wala pang lumilitaw na higit na dakila kay Juan Bautista; ngunit ang pinakaaba sa mga taong pinaghaharian ng Diyos ay dakila kaysa kanya.” (MB)

     Si Juan Bautista ang sugo ng Diyos na maghahanda ng Kaniyang daan.  Sino pa ang isang halimbawa ng sugo ng Diyos na hinulaan sa Biblia?  Sa Lucas 4:16-21 ay ganito ang mababasa:

     Pumunta siya sa Nazaret na kanyang nilakhan.  Gaya ng kanyang kaugalian, pumasok siya sa sinagoga ng araw ng Sabbat.
     “Tumindig siya para bumasa.  Ibinigay sa kanya ang aklat ng Propeta Isaias at binasa niya ang bahaging nagsasaad ng ganito:
     “ ‘Sumasaakin ang Espiritu ng Pannginoon, sapagkat hinirang niya ako upang ipangaral sa mga dukha ang magandang balita.  Sinugo niya ako upang ipahayag sa mga bihag na sila’y lalaya; ang mga bulag ay makakakita, at bibigyang kaluwagan ang mga naapi, at ipahayag ang taon ng kaligtasan ng Panginoon’.
     “Pagkatapos, binilot niya ang aklat, ibinalik sa naglilingkod, at naupo.  Ang mata ng lahat ng nasa sinagoga ay pawang nakapako sa kanya.
     “Sinabi niya, ‘Naganap na ngayon ang kasulatang ito ayon sa inyong narinig’.” (New Pilipino Version)

     Pinatunayan ng ating Panginoong Jesucristo mismo na Siya ang kinatuparan ng hula.  Sinabi Niyang “Naganap na ngayon ang Kasulatang ito ayon sa inyong narinig.”  Hindi mapasisinungalingan kung kanino natupad ang hula—sa hinuhulaan—samakatuwid baga’y kay Cristo.

     Ang Diyos mismo ang nagpatotoo tungkol kay Cristo.  Sa Mateo 17:5 ay ganito ang mababasa:

     “Samantalang nagsasalita pa siya, narito, ang isang maningning na alapaap ay lumilim sa kanila: at narito, ang isang tinig na mula sa alapaap, na nagsasabi, Ito ang sinisinta kong Anak, na siya kong kinalulugdan; siya ang inyong pakinggan.

     Sinabi ng Diyos na si Cristo ang Kaniyang sinisintang Anak.  Nang ayaw tanggapin ng ibang mga tao si Cristo bilang sugo ng Diyos, sinabi ng ating Panginoong Jesucristo ang mga gawa na ipinagagawa sa Kaniya ang nagpapatotoo na Siya’y sinugo ng Ama (cf. Juan 10:38).


ANG SUGO SA MGA HULING ARAW
     Sino naman ang sinugo ng Diyos sa mga wakas ng lupa o sa mga huling araw?  Sa Isaias 41:9-10 ay ganito ang mababasa:

     “Ikaw na aking hinawakan mula sa mga wakas ng lupa, at tinawag kita mula sa mga sulok niyaon, at pinagsabihan kita, Ikaw ay aking lingkod, aking pinili ka at hindi kita itinakuwil;
     “ Huwag kang matakot, sapagka't ako'y sumasaiyo; huwag kang manglupaypay, sapagka't ako'y iyong Dios; aking palalakasin ka; oo, aking tutulungan ka; oo, aking aalalayan ka ng kanang kamay ng aking katuwiran.

     Wala ring pangalang binanggit sa Biblia sa lingkod na pinili ng Diyos sa mga wakas ng lupa.  Sino kaya ang kinatuparan ng hulang ito?  Ito’y ating pag-aralan. 

     Ang binabanggit na mga wakas ng lupa ay ang panahon bago dumating ang wakas ng lupa o ang pagparito ni Cristo.  Ang mga palatandaan nito ay ang mga digmaan at mga balita ng digmaan, kahirapan, kaguton, at mga paglindol sa iba’t ibang dako ng daigdig.  Kapag nangyari ang mga ito ay malapit na ang wakas (cf. Mat. 24:3, 6-8, 33).  Ang Unang Digmaang pansalibutan ay sumiklab noong Hulyo 27, 1914.  Sa petsa ring ito natala sa pamahalaan ng Pilipinas ang Iglesia ni Cristo na ipinangaral ni Kapatid na Felix Y. Manalo.

     Ipinangako ng Diyos sa Kaniyang sugo na ang gawaing ito ay tutulungan at palalakasin.  Ito’y magtatagumpay at magiging makapangyarihan dahil sa tulong ng Diyos.  Sa loob ng halos 50 taon ay lumago ang Iglesia ni Cristo at naging maluwalhati.  Ngayon ang Iglesia ni Cristo ay nasa 65 bansa at mga teritoryo sa buong daigdig.


PATOTOO NG MGA LIDER NG RELIHIYON
     Ano ang sinasabi ng mga lider ng iba’t ibang relihiyon ukol sa Iglesia ni Cristo?  Sa isang aklat na sinulat ni Joseph J. Kabanagh, na pinamagatang The Iglesia ni Cristo ay ganito ang mababasa:

     “Subalit ito’y hindi maikakaila na ang Iglesia ay isang malaki, makapangyarihan at lumalaganap na kapisanan.  Maaaring ito ang pinakamahalaga at mapusok na banta na kinakaharap ng Iglesia Katolika sa Kapuluan sa kasalukuyang panahon.  Sadyang ito ay isang lakas na nararapat subaybayan ngayon pa at sa mga taong darating ng sinumang may pagpapahalaga sa kapakanang pangrelihiyon ng sambayanang Pilipino.” (p. 4, salin mula sa Ingles)

     Ayon naman kay G. Robert G. Elliff:
     “Ang Pinakamalaki sa daigdig… Kakaunti sa mga grupo o kapulungan na may kasindami ng mga kaanib o makapaglulunsad ng impluwensiya ukol sa pulitika at sa relihiyon sa lipunan sa paligid nila katulad ng organisasyon ng Iglesia ni Cristo.” [Iglesia ni Cristo (The Chruch of Christ from the Philippines):  The Only True Church?, p. 13, salin mula sa Ingles]

     Narito naman ang patotoo ng lider Protestante ukol sa Iglesia ni Cristo.  Sa aklat na A Protestant View of the Iglesia ni Cristo, ng awtor na si Albert Sanders, ay ganito naman ang binabanggit:

     “Ngayon ang mga sekta ng relihiyon ay lumalago sa Pilipinas.  Ang isa sa mga ito ay ang itinatag ni Felix Manalo noong 1914 at opisyal na tinatawag na Iglesia ni Cristo… Marami sa mga kaanib nito ang nagmula sa mga iglesia Protestante.  Si Manalo ay isang makapangyarihang pinuno na nakapagpakita ng di-pangkaraniwang kakayahan sa pag-akit sa mga tao sa pagtatayo ng isang malakas na organisasyon.  Ang kaniyang mga kaanib ay matatagpuan hindi lamang sa Luzon kundi maging sa Visayas at Mindanao.” (p. 3. Salin mula sa Ingles)

     Ang may akda nito’y isang pastor ng United Church of Christ, isang sekta ng Protestante.  Hindi nalingid sa kaniyang pangmasid ang pagiging makapangyarihang pinuno o lider ni Kapatid na Felix Y. Manalo.

     Sa isa pang aklat na pinamagatang Iglesia ni Cristo:  A Study in Independent Church Dynamics na sinulat naman ni Arthur Leonard Tuggy, isang Baptista, ay ganito ang mababasa:

     “… Sa daan-daang taon, ang bawat lunsod at bayan sa Pilipinas ay napangingibabawan ng mga katedral ng Katoliko Romano na ginawa sa pamamagitan ng paggawang walang bayad sa lupang donasyon.  Ngunit marami na rito ang mga luma na at sira-sira.  Ang mga katedral-kapilya ng Iglesia ni Cristo ngayon ay nakikipagpaligsahan sa mga lumang gusaling ito sa laki at nilagpasan sila sa ganda.  Ang mga kaanib sa Iglesia [ni Cristo] na ang bilang ay minorya pa rin ng mga mamamayan, ngunit ang kanilang mga gusali ay nangingibabaw sa maraming tanawin sa lunsod.  Ang kahalagahan ng katotohanang ito ay hindi matataya.  Ang mga kaanib sa Iglesia [ni Cristo], bagaman mahihirap, ay maligaya sa inihahayag na kaluwalhatian, na kinikilala sa gayon din, na ang kanilang Iglesia ay nagsisikap na tulungan sila na makakita ng higit na mabuting ikabubuhay.  Ang mga taga-labas ay kailangang makilala na ang mga magagandang kapilyang ito ay isa pang katuwiran kung bakit ang Iglesia ay hindi maaaring pawiin lamang.  Binabalak nito na mamalagi sa mahabang panahong darating,  kung hahatulan salig sa kaniyang arkitektura.” (p. 180, salin mula sa Ingles)

     Ang mga nakita nilang nagawa ni Kapatid na Felix Y. Manalo ang siyang nagpapatotoo na natupad din sa kaniya at sa kaniyang gawain ang mga ipinangako ng Diyos.  *


Talasanggunian:
Elliff, Robert G.  Iglesia ni Cristo (The Church of Christ from the Philippines): The Only True Church?, 1989.
Kavanagh, Joseph J. The Iglesia ni Cristo. Catholic Trade School.
Sanders, Albert.  A Protestant View of the Iglesia ni Cristo.  Philippine Federation of Christian Churches, 1962.
Tuggy, Arthur Leonard.  Iglesia ni Cristo:  A Study in Independent Church Dynamics.  Conservative Baptist Publishing, Inc.:  Quezon City, Philippines, 1976.


Copied from PASUGO GOD’S MESSAGE/OCTOBER 1994/VOLUME 46/NUMBER 10/PAGES 15-17




Martes, Marso 31, 2015

GOD’S DECREE ON MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE

GOD’S DECREE ON
MARRIAGE
AND DIVORCE

“Didn’t God make you one body and spirit
with her?  … So make sure that none of you
breaks his promise to his wife.”

By RICHARD J. RODAS


MARRIAGE IS AMONG the most intimate of all human relationships.  Couples who give their relationship time, effort, and commitment find marriage as one of life’s greatest fulfillments.  On the other hand, those who fail to work toward mutual goals and to bring variety into their marriage, find it as a source of great frustration and misery as such results in a poor, static, and routine relationship.

     Love in marriage demands constant and quality communication.  A married couple who, for business and other mundane reasons, neglects this basic need would realize too late that the emotional euphoria of courtship, engagement, wedding, and subsequent honeymoon could be easily wiped out by the stresses of daily life.

     Sad to say, we live in a time when marital unhappiness is very common, when “irreconcilable differences” become reasons for marriage break-ups, and when divorce is seen as a convenient fire escape when marital conflicts get too hot to handle.  Indeed, marriage is treated more and more as a temporary arrangement of convenience.

GOD HATES DIVORCE
     God corrects the wrong notion of those who consider marriage as a purely civil arrangement and who argue that divorce would unmask the facades of respectability concealing the unhappiness and even violence within some marriages.  Prophet Malachi explains thus:

     “You ask why he no longer accepts them. It is because he knows you have broken your promise to the wife you married when you were young. She was your partner, and you have broken your promise to her, although you promised before God that you would be faithful to her.  Didn't God make you one body and spirit with her? What was his purpose in this? It was that you should have children who are truly God's people. So make sure that none of you breaks his promise to his wife.  “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel. “I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife.” (Mal. 2:14-16, Today’s English Version)

     God abhors a philandering husband who is cruel and unfaithful to his wife.  He also hates an unfaithful wife.  More so, He hates divorce.  A couple should remember that they have been made partners by God in an institution that He Himself established—marriage (Gen 2:18, 21-24, Ibid.)

     The inviolability of marriage was clearly emphasized by the Lord Jesus when He answered the question of the Pharisees who tried to trap Him, “Do you permit divorce?”:

     “ Some Pharisees came to interview him and tried to trap him into saying something that would ruin him.

“Do you permit divorce?” they asked.

 “Don’t you read the Scriptures?” he replied. “In them it is written that at the beginning God created man and woman,  and that a man should leave his father and mother, and be forever united to his wife. The two shall become one—no longer two, but one! And no man may divorce what God has joined together.”” (Mt. 19:3-6, Living Bible)

     Marriage is a union between husband and wife.  It allows no pre-conditions as many have done these days.  It is a lifelong commitment—“for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in health or in sickness, until death do us part.”  Indeed, no man may divorce what God has joined together.

A GRAVE SIN
     In the West, marriage is generally perceived as an unstable institution.  Television sitcoms, soap operas, and even Hollywood films often dismiss the idea of marriage as a life-long commitment.  Divorce is openly portrayed as a welcome route to freedom from the difficulties of marriage.  In truth, “recent divorce rates show that the chances of a first marriage in the United States ending in divorce are about one in two.  One expert (Bumpass, 1990) argues that if the current levels persist, 60 percent of recent marriages will end in divorce.  The U.S. divorce rate is the world’s highest—more than triple the Japanese rate and at least double the divorce rates in the other major industrial democracies except England (In Conflict and Order, Understanding Society, pp. 447-448).

     Even within the confines of the Catholic Church, which in theory holds marriage to be indissoluble, statistics bear witness that “Italy, where the Vatican is located, has long recognized divorce.  So have every nation with substantial majority of Catholic populations like Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Poland, Ireland, and all of Latin America. … They couldn’t exactly ex-communicate millions of the faithful without abolishing the Holy Mother Church itself.” (Manila Standard, March 15, 1999).

     Why would it be wrong to divorce one’s spouse and remarry someone else?  The answer of the Savior clearly explains:

     “Any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery; and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Lk. 16:18, TEV)

     Man should not fool himself into thinking that adultery is a “small” sin.  Apostle Paul condemned adulterers, idol worshipers, drunkards, robbers, and the like by rhetorically declaring:

     “Don’t you know that those doing such things have no share in the Kingdom of God?” (I Cor. 6:9-10, LB)

     The indifference of people to extra marital relationship, to the effect that many with resignation declare that “nobody cares anymore whom you sleep with and why” ignores the biblical fact that the Lord Jesus abhors it.  The culture of infidelity that is emblematic of the West goes against doctrinal command of the Lord.  Apostle Paul stated in his letter to the Christians at Corinth:

     “For married people I have a command which is not my own but the Lord's: a wife must not leave her husband;  but if she does, she must remain single or else be reconciled to her husband; and a husband must not divorce his wife. (I Cor. 7:10-11, TEV)

     If men and women feel that their marriage can be ended so easily by divorce, they would tend to enter into marriage much too light-heartedly and without the deep consideration necessary before embarking on a union that is supposed to last for the rest of their lives.

DIVORCE LINKED TO POVERTY AND
BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS
     Nothing can be more traumatic for children than the divorce of their parents.  Studies show that children of divorcees often manifest emotional or behavioral problems and learning difficulties in school:

     “Divorce increases poverty … .
     “In the United States, children of divorced mothers have 100 to 200 percent more probability of suffering from emotional or behavioral problems and about 50 percent more probability of encountering learning difficulties than children of intact families.  In the government hospitals of the U.S., more than 80 percent of adolescents interred for psychiatric treatment come from single-parent families….
     “More than 60 percent of robbers, 72 percent of juvenile murderers, 70 percent of those under long-term sentences in prison have grown up in fatherless families.  About 70 percent of juvenile delinquents in reformatory schools come from families without a father.” (Manila Bulletin, July 13, 1997)

PRESERVATION OF MARRIAGE
     Amidst the prevailing social climate whereby there is a massive and alarming increase in the number of broken families, how can true marriage last?  To go a step further, how can marital conflicts be confined to a minimum if not altogether avoided?  Apostle Paul teaches thus:

     “Marriage is to be honored by all, and husbands and wives must be faithful to each other. God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit adultery.(Heb. 13:4, TEV)

     For marriage to succeed, the husband and wife should honor their vows to each other and remain faithful to the institution created by God.

     It also greatly helps in the preservation of marriage if a man lives considerately with his wife and is thoughtful of her needs as spoken by Apostle Peter:

     “ In the same way you husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are more delicate than you. Treat them with respect, because they also will receive, together with you, God's gift of life. Do this so that nothing will interfere with your prayers. (I Pt. 3:7, TEV)

     Successful couples believe in the importance of commitment and agree in their aims and goals in life.  Both have a strong desire to make their marriage last, hence, they don’t infuse foolishness in their homes (Prov. 14:1, Ibid.) the way others do by “fooling around.”  Neither do they inject evil deeds side by side with righteous ones in their homes (Prov. 14:11, Ibid.)  They possess a positive attitude toward their spouses and treat them as their best friend.

     No marital issue or problem—no matter how unique it may be—can be hard to solve if the couple has reverence for God.  Happily married people are also aware that when they pursue self-centered goals and fail to communicate clearly and effectively with their spouses, the home shall begin to deteriorate as the Lord Himself pronounced:

     “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. (Lk. 11:17, New International Version)

     Marital conflict is often a symptom of some deeper problems such as selfishness, unwillingness to forgive, bitterness, or communication problems.  Hence, a successful couple strives to constantly communicate with each other through verbal and nonverbal means—through gestures, facial expressions, words on paper, gifts, messages in a computer, or during a simple period of silence.

     Every married couple and every prospective husband and wife dream and desire to be genuinely happy.  But they should realize that happy marriages demand a harmonious lifelong relationship.  They should wake up from the illusion that marriage is a perennial garden of paradise where romance is forever. There will always be a time for sorrow and a time for joy, a time for silence and a time to talk.  But for as long as they revere and trust in God by obeying His laws and allowing His tenets to govern their lives, God’s blessings of prosperity and happiness shall be theirs as King David himself testifies:

     “Blessings on all who reverence and trust the Lord—on all who obey him! Their reward shall be prosperity and happiness.  Your wife shall be contented in your home. And look at all those children! There they sit around the dinner table as vigorous and healthy as young olive trees.  That is God’s reward to those who reverence and trust him.(Ps. 128:1-4, LB) *

Copied from PASUGO GOD’S MESSAGE/AUGUST 2000/VOLUME 52/NUMBER 8/PAGES 6-8





WHO’S DISPARAGING CHRIST?

WHO’S
DISPARAGING
CHRIST?

Dominador C. Santos


WHILE MANY religions persist in teaching that our Lord Jesus Christ is true God — believing that in so doing they elevate Him to a pedestal of magnificence and grandeur — the Iglesia ni Cristo, Church of Christ, remains affirming that He is a man.  And for this, the Church of Christ gets accused of allegedly dishonoring Jesus.  How valid is this accusation?  Does the Church really impute dishonor to our Lord?

ON RECOGNITION OF CHRIST
     How does the Iglesia ni Cristo recognize Jesus Christ based upon the teaching of the Holy Scriptures?  Christ Jesus is acknowledged by this Church as one who is highly exalted by God, one who is given the name which is above every name, and one who should be worshipped in fulfillment of God’s command:

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11, RSV)

     In recognizing Christ the biblical way, God is glorified according to the Apostle Paul.  The Iglesia ni Cristo members not only worship Jesus Christ but also esteem the name given to Him by God, and by God’s will they are called by that name which is above every name.  Should they be accused of dishonoring Christ when in fact they are the bearers of the honorable name?

     Who really impute dishonor to Christ?  The Apostle James point out:  " Is it not they who blaspheme the honorable name which was invoked over you?"  (James 2:7, Ibid.)  The one guilty of an ignominious act against our Lord are the blasphemers of His name.  Those who reject Christ’s name blaspheme the honorable name of the Lord.  Who then rejects the name of Christ?  Obviously, not the Iglesia ni Cristo, Chucrh of Christ.  Remember, the true servants of God are called by the name of Christ, hence, they are blessed although they are reproached.  "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." (I Pt. 4:14, Ibid.)

     Are the Catholics called by the name of Christ?  While they take pride in being called Catholic, they at the same time reject the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is obvious for anyone to see how our Lord is insulted directly or indirectly by an individual or group of individuals who dropped the name of Christ and sported other names which have no bearing for salvation.

"Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well…. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:10, 12, Ibid.)

     The sheep of Christ — the true people of God — are called by His name and this is one way of recognizing them, considering the truth that this is how our Lord recognizes His own servants.  “ To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name….” (Jn. 10:3, Ibid.)

     The name referred to in this citation is Christ’s name (I Pt. 4:14).  How is the name of Christ called upon His sheep — the servants of God?

“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.(Acts 20:28, Lamsa)




     The Iglesia ni Cristo adheres to the truth that there is only one mediator between God and men.  No less than the Apostle Paul pronounces this doctrine in his letter to Timothy.  “ For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (I Tim. 2:5, RSV)
This biblical tenet about Jesus Christ’s mediatorial function must not be taken for granted by men, since it has something to do with the remission of sin they committed before God.  People should know whom to approach, for only then could their sins be forgiven.  God appointed our Lord Jesus Christ alone to serve as a ransom for the sins of His people.

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. (Rom. 3:25, KJV)

Being the only mediator between God and men is an honor, glory and prestige for Christ.  This is an exclusive right given to Him by God.  Is anybody allowed to augment or change a teaching of God?  This is the declaration of God:  "Everything that I command you you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to it or take from it."(Deut. 12:32, RSV).

     God is very strict about His teachings.  He does not allow anyone to add anything to it or take something from them.  The Gospel according to Matthew delineated the particular rule laid down by God in fulfilling His laws.  Specially, even a period nor a comma should not be added to or diminished from the law:

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 5:18-19, KJV)

     Do you know who broke this law of God pertaining to His words?  Do you know who deprived our Lord Jesus Christ of His sole mediatorial authority, which again is an infamous act against Him?  A Catholic book, Catechism on True Devotion to Mary, unfolds to us the following, on page 17:

“… Mary is our spiritual Mother because she cooperated with Jesus in giving us our spiritual life of grace….But God has done even greater things for our Lady.  Besides using her as His helper in giving us grace, He has deemed that she should intercede for, and dispense to us, every grace that we receive…. He has placed her as the Mediatrix between Himself and us; for us to refuse to go back to Him by means of Mary, would be to ignore his will in the matter.” [Rev. Ralph W. Beiting, Catechism on True Devotion to Mary, 2nd Ed. (Pasay City, Philippines:  Society of St. Paul, 1958]

     The Catholic Church as proven by the above citation has opposed the strict rule promulgated by God regarding His words.  The priest, Ralph W. Beiting, boldly declares that Virgin Mary is another intercessor, a mediatrix so-to-speak, a doctrine which is contrary to the Scriptures.  The Catholic Church even assumes that it is God who placed Mary to be a Mediatrix between Himself and men.  When did God do it?  Where can we find it in the Gospel?  And as if the Catholic Church is not satisfied yet with Mary being a Mediatrix, she also introduces so many intercessors in behalf of man’s sin:

“… What he does in this:  He has freely willed that we should make use of the intercession of the saints as well as of Mary, with this differences:  Mary’s intercession is always at work, her realm is universal, while the domain of any other saint is limited, and, in a way, occasional.  Therefore we not merely may, but should, pay honor to various saints, our patron saints, the patron of our school, of our parish, and various others according to our own position, wishes and needs. …” [William G. Most, Mary In Our Life (n. p.:  P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1959, pp. 71-72]

     We can glean the fact that the Catholic Church gained no satisfaction from the pure Gospel taught by Christ and the Apostles that the intercessor or mediator between God and men is only one.  Could you think of the great dishonor that Church brings to Christ?  Who placed Mary, the other saints and the angels as intercessors?  God has never done it.  Who gave them (Catholic Church) the authority to overrule the teaching of God and the strict provisions this teaching carries?

     We can never benefit from the teaching which is different from the teaching of the Apostles.  Such a teaching, so with the teacher, is worthy of rejection.  "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8, KJV)

     As we dig deeper in our study, we can’t help but to recollect the prophetic utterance of the Apostle Peter about false prophets who will reject and deny Christ.

“ But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.(II Pt. 2:1, RSV)

     There will be a denunciation of our Lord Jesus Christ at the advent of the false prophets.  This is the forewarning of the Apostle Peter to the early Christians.  How will Christ be denounced or rejected?  The Apostle further states:

“Surely you have tasted that the Lord is good.  So come to Him, our living stonethe stone rejected by men but choice and precious in the sight of God.  Come, and let yourselves be built, as living stones, into a spiritual temple; become a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For it stands written:  ‘I lay in Zion a choice corner-stone of great worth.  The man who has faith in it will not be put to shame.’” (I Pt. 2:3-6, The New English Bible)

     The Apostle Peter himself knew well that our Lord Jesus Christ would be rejected as the corner-stone or foundation stone whereon the true believers are built.  Our Lord God makes it certain that those who believe that Christ is the foundation stone will not be put to shame.  Who then will be put to shame?  It’s naturally those who have no faith in it.  Those who change Christ for another foundation.  Who did it?  Let us quote the statement of a Catholic Cardinal:

“The word Peter, in the Syro-Chaldaic tongue, which our Savior spoke, means a rock. … Jesus, our Lord, founded but one Church, which He was pleased to build on Peter.  Therefore, any church that does not recognize Peter as its foundation stone is not the Church of Christ, …” [James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, The Faith of Our Fathers, 110th ed. (New York:  P.J. Kenedy & Sons, n.d.), pp. 81-82]

     James Cardinal Gibbons readily admits that the Catholic Church teaches that Peter is the foundation stone of the true Church.  He (the Cardinal) speaks then contrary to what the Apostle Peter had declared that Christ is the foundation stone of the true Church.  Who do you think should be believed:  the Apostle Peter or Cardinal Gibbons of the Catholic Church?  Our keen mind will definitely give right judgment to the creditable teaching.  Let us not be forgetful about the precautionary measure given by the Apostle Paul, that is, that even them or an angel from heaven who preach any other Gospel which they did not preach be accursed.

     Catholic claim Christ as the primary stone and Peter as the secondary stone to justify their teaching.  Where can we find the teaching that Peter is the secondary stone?  Is it not a monumental lie to say or to presume so high that the Apostle Peter was laid as a secondary foundation stone by God?  That is a great usurpation of God’s authority“There can be no other foundation beyond that which is already laid; I mean Jesus Christ himself” (I Cor. 3:11, TNEB).

     Christ as the foundation stone is unalternable.  God proves that the allegation of the Catholic Church that the Apostle Peter is the secondary stone is a mere fraud:

 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
“In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Eph. 2:20-22, KJV)

      Peter, being an Apostle, was naturally built upon Christ, the foundation stone, in whom the whole building is fitly framed together as a holy temple in the Lord.  Yes, Peter is considered a stone, just as all the members of the Church built by Christ are, as stated in the Bible:

“He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said ‘You are Simon son of John.  You shall be called Cephas’ (that is, Peter, the Rock).” (John 1:42, TNEB)

“So come to him, our living Stone—the stone rejected by men but choice and precious in the sight of God.  Come, and let yourselves be built, as living stones, into a spiritual temple; become a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (I Pt. 2:4-5, Ibid.)

     Never a part or a portion of the building or the Church (I Tim. 3:15), was built upon Peter.  And never in his life did Peter teach that he is the foundation stone of the Church, although he himself is a stone.

     Those who “make” Peter a corner stone of the Church are the ones who commit blasphemy against Jesus Christ, who is the only corner-stone of His Church.

     When the Iglesia ni Cristo teaches that our Lord Jesus is a man and never a God in His state of being, others turn red-hot in anger.  They accused the Iglesia ni Cristo of dishonoring Christ.  While it is true that the Catholic Church accepts that Christ is a man, she also believes that He is God.  Is the man Christ Jesus also the God whom we must believe and worship?  Who is the one true God whom we must know and worship?

“AFTER THESE WORDS Jesus looked up to heaven and said:  ‘Father, the hour has come.  Glorify thy Son, that the Son may glorify thee…. This is eternal life:  to know thee who alone art truly God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (Jn. 17:1, 3, TNEB)

     The only true God introduced by our Lord Jesus Christ is His Father.  He even looked up to heaven, the dwelling place of God, when He proclaimed this truth.  What is the significance if man believes that the Father alone is the true God?  Christ declares:  This is eternal life.  Eternal life is for those who believe that the only true God is the Father, not Christ.  Jesus Christ is flesh, a man.  To whom do those who believe that Christ is flesh or man belong?  “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. (I Jn. 4:2, KJV)

     A man is of God if he confesses or believes that Jesus is flesh or a man.  How about if an individual confesses otherwise, or if does not believe that Christ is flesh or a man?  Is he of God?

“Many deceivers have gone out into the world, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.  These are the persons described as the Antichrist, the arch-deceiver.  Beware of them, so that you may not lose all that we worked for, but receive your reward in full.” (II Jn. 1:7-8, TNEB)

     It is now high time for us to know who the antichrists really are.  Those who preach that Christ is God are against Christ.  They are the arch-deceiver, so we must beware of them.  To presume that Christ is God is worth disparaging Him — a great blasphemy against Him, considering the truth that He is a man.  We should acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ not more than what the Bible teaches in order not to fall prey to, nor be one of, the antichrists.  —  *

Copied from PASUGO GOD’S MESSAGE/MARCH-APRIL 1981/VOLUME 33/NUMBER 2/PAGES 14-17