|The Fulfillment of Bible Prophecies |
[As it was prophesied, it was also fulfilled: the Church of Christ emerged at the designated place on God's own appointed time]
THE PROPHET ISAIAH gave the standard by which we can determine whether a religion belongs to God or not. He said:
"To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Is. 8:20, New King James Version)
The law is the word of God written in His inspired book and the testimony is the spirit of prophecy as written in the book of Revelation, thus:
"And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, 'See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy'."(Rev. 19:10, Ibid. )
Hence, for a religion or church to be the true one, it must pass this yardstick. Otherwise, such church is in the dark and cannot enlighten and lead its members to salvation.
The Iglesia ni Cristo satisfies these scriptural requirements. It upholds the laws and commandments of God written in the Bible. In fact, it is this very adherence to biblical teachings that sets it apart from other churches.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE PROPHECY AND THE OTHER SHEEP OF CHRIST
There is more to the Iglesia ni Cristo than its strict adherence to God's laws written in the Bible: it has the testimony of the prophecy.
Though it may be easy for any church to claim that it adheres to God's words written in the Bible, it may not be as easy to prove this in the light of biblical truth. But granting that a church appears to be upholding the teachings of the Bible, the one thing it cannot feign is the testimony of the prophecy. The Iglesia ni Cristo can show numerous prophecies testifying that it indeed belongs to God.
It was our Lord Jesus Christ Himself who testified to the truth of the Iglesia ni Cristo that reemerged in the Far East in these last days. In the gospel according to John, the Lord prophesied about His other sheep, thus:
"And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd." (Jn. 10:16, Ibid.)
The Lord said that the "other sheep" who were not yet in the fold at the time of His public ministry and even of His apostles would hear His voice and He would bring them to become one flock. His "other sheep" would also become members of His Church inasmuch as the flock or fold is the Church of Christ. Apostle Paul clarified this, thus:
"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 Version)
Who, then, are the "other sheep" of Christ referred to in the previous verse? In a related prophecy, Apostle Peter mentioned of the three groups of people who have been promised to receive the Holy Spirit:
"For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God wil call." (Acts 2:39, NKJV)
Each of the phrases mentioned in the verse - "to you," "to your children," and "to all who are afar off," - corresponds to a particular group of people. "To you" refers to "all the house of Israel" (cf. Acts 2:36-39) and "to your children" refers to the Gentile converts whom the Israelites have begotten through the gospel (cf. l Cor. 4:15, NKJV), particularly the fruits of Apostle Paul's preaching.
These first two groups, the Jews and the Gentiles, received the promised Holy Spirit and were called in the Church of Christ in the first century (cf. Rom. 9:24). They were the sheep of Christ who were in the fold then.
The third group which would constitute the other sheep of Christ were yet to be called: "as many as the Lord our God will call." That is why Christ said of this group, "which are not of this fold." They "are afar off' or they are in "distant times and places" (cf. Rieu Version).
As it was prophesied, it was also fulfilled: the Church of Christ emerged at the designated place on God's own appointed time.
FROM THE FAR EAST
The history of the Iglesia ni Cristo, from the time of its inception and place of origin to its growth and march to progress until it has reached its present glorious stature, is clearly delineated in biblical prophecies. As the prophesied events in the Church unfold one after the other, we could clearly see God's hand at work, proving that this Church came about through His will and not by any human plan or design.
Prophet Isaiah recorded many of these prophecies that have found fulfillment in this Church, one of which is this:
"Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth." (Is. 43:5-6, King James Version)
According to Isaiah, God's sons and daughters would emerge at the ends of the earth. The ends of the earth is the time when the end of the world or the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is near, "even at the doors" (cf. Mt. 24:3, 33, Ibid.). One of the signs given by our Lord Jesus that we are already "at the doors" or "at the ends of the earth" is the war that broke out on July 27, 1914, known in history as the First World War (cf. Mt. 24:6-8; World History, pp. 478-479; The Nations at War: A Current History, p. 8; The Story of the Great War, vol. 3, p. 923).
As to the place, it was specifically mentioned that this work of salvation to which God's children belong would arise from the Far East. This is specifically mentioned in Moffatt's translation of the same verse:
"From the far east will I bring your offspring, and from the far west I will gather you." (Is. 43:5, Moffatt Version)
It was God's design that this work concerning God's children would come from the Far East, the same "afar off' place mentioned by the apostles when they prophesied about the third group of people who would constitute the Church of Christ. This prophecy found fulfillment in the Philippines, found at the very heart of the Far East. Jesuit scholar Horacio dela Costa says of the Philippines:
"It cannot be without significance that the country which stands almost at the geographical center of the Far East, the Philippines, should also be that in which Christianity has taken the deepest root." (Asia and the Philippines, p. 169)
Hence, on God's appointed time, the Church of Christ was registered with the government of the Philippines on July 27,1914 in fulfillment of this prophecy.
Moreover, Isaiah's prophecy mentions of events which were undoubtedly fulfilled in the Iglesia ni Cristo. According to the prophecy, the "north" and the "south" were holding back God's servants: "I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth."
God's children must be released from the bondage of the north and the south. North and south represent Protestantism and Catholicism, respectively.
The book, The Reformation by Owen Chadwick affirms this:
"... In the north the Protestants were in control--Lutheran churches in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, the northern and central states of Germany; Calvinist or Reformed churches in Scotland, the Netherlands, Hesse, the Palatinate, and a few of the western German states. In the south the Catholics were in control-Spain, Italy, Austria, Bavaria, and elsewhere in southern Germany." (p. 366)
Therefore, God's children would be taken out from these two major religions. No wonder, most members of the Church of Christ were former Catholics and Protestants. And to symbolize the exodus of God's people from the apostate church, on July 27, 1994, the Iglesia ni Cristo officially established its congregation in Rome, Italy, the center of Catholicism.
TO THE FAR WEST
Isaiah's prophecy also ascertained where the Church would reach when it would embark on its foreign mission and the manner by which God would make this come to pass. It says in the prophecy:
"From the far east will I bring your offspring, and from the far west I will gather you," (Is. 43:5, Moffatt Version)
The worldwide expansion of the Church of Christ will begin in the Far West. God would gather His servants in the Far West to form the nucleus of the Church in the West. Historically, when the Church of Christ spread in the West. it started with the gathering of God's children in the Far West. The World Almanac clarifies the term "Far West" in the following manner:
"Far West: California, Nevada. Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 1976. p, 88)
The gathering of God's people scattered in the West was fulfilled when the first locale of the Church was established by the executive minister, Brother Erano G. Manalo, in a worship service he officiated in Hawaii on July 27. 1968. Brethren who migrated from the Philippines were gathered and this started the spread of the Church of Christ not only in the West but in other pans of the globe as well.
At present, the Church has reached more than 70 countries and territories worldwide and now counts among its members about 111 nationalities. Indeed, God's kingdom which was likened to a mustard seed in the parable of our Lord Jesus Christ has grown-and great is its growth (cf Mt. 13:31-32).
BACK TO ITS ORIGINAL HOME
God's plan for the Church of Christ does not end with its successful mission in the West and in the other parts of the world. There is more in the prophecy of Isaiah about this Church than meets the eye. To understand this important event designed by God to occur in this commissioning it behooves us to take a second look at Isaiah's prophecy:
"Do not be afraid-I am with you! 'From the distant east and the farthest west I will bring your people home'." (Is. 43:5, Today's English Version)
God would bring His people home. The true Church of Christ is God's habitation or home in the Spirit (cf. Eph. 2:20-22). But this Church built by our Lord Jesus Christ in the fIrst century was overtaken by apostasy. After it had apostatized and transformed into the Catholic Church, it became the habitation or home of the devil. It is, therefore, necessary for God's people to be brought back to the true Church. With the commissioning of Brother Felix Y. Manalo as the messenger in these last days, the work of restoring people back into the home of God in the Spirit or the true Church of Christ has been carried out.
God's plan for the Church goes beyond having people return to the true faith. The Bible states also that the true Church today must also return to its original home:
"Lord. you have chosen Jerusalem as your home: 'This is my permanent home where I shall live' , you said, 'for I have always wanted it this way.' " (Ps. 132:13,.14, Living Bible)
Jerusalem is a special place to God. This city of David is the original home of the Church built by our Lord Jesus Christ in the first century. God wanted His people not only to be brought back to the true Church but for this Church to be restored in the city which He calls, "my permanent home where I shall live." And so it was fulfilled with the official establishment of the Church's congregation in Jerusalem last March 31, 1996 in a special worship service officiated by Brother Erano G. Manalo, the true Church of Christ finally returned to its original place of origin.
EXTENSION OF THE GENTILE MISSION
After the Church of Christ has returned to Jerusalem, another prophecy unfolded in her colorful history. It was also Isaiah who prophesied this event:
"And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." (Is. 49:6, KJV)
The apostles of Christ, among them Peter, John, and James were commissioned by the Lord to preach the gospel to the Jews, while Apostle Paul and his companions were appointed the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles or to the nations of the world. God wants this work of salvation to be extended to the end of the earth.
However, history attests that because of Apostle Paul's limited time, he did not reach the ends of the earth, much less the world's end. Thus, we can be certain that aside from the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and His 12 apostles, and that of Apostle Paul, God would commission another messenger who would continue the work of salvation until the world's end. This came to pass with the commissioning of the messenger in these last days who had preached the Iglesia ni Cristo as the means to salvation. It is this Church which God has appointed to reach up to the end of the world and, therefore, to continue His work of salvation among the Gentiles.
The establishment of the Church's congregation in Athens, Greece on May10.1997, symbolizes the extension of God's mission of salvation among the Gentile nations. It was then that Isaiah's prophecy concerning this mission had found further fulfillment.
The fulfillment of these prophecies proves that this is the true Church of Christ-God's work of salvation until the end of the world.
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