Biyernes, Abril 6, 2012

Why God Sends Messengers

Why God Sends Messengers

 And How We Can Benefit from it

by Roland A. Aguirre

We remember biblical figures whose great character and unselfish acts are forever etched in our minds. Their examples are emulated; their accomplishments are noticed and praised. Their commitment and compassion are a testament to the strength of their character. They were those who served God faithfully and courageously amid the most difficult circumstances. Included in the list are the messengers of God who have been entrusted with a very noble and divine mission.
The people then who understood the purpose of God in sending them benefited from their work—and so do we, in our time, if we also understand the purpose of God's commissioning of His messenger in these last days.

Sent for a divine purpose
The primary purpose of God in sending His messengers in different periods of time is for the work of salvation. Case in point: when Christ, the greatest messenger of God, was born, the angel who appeared to the shepherds stated,

"Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy ... For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord ..." (Luke 2:10-11, New King James Version).

Likewise, this divine purpose of God in sending His messengers was manifested during the time of John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way of the Lord. And the primary purpose of sending him was "to give His people the knowledge of salvation" (Luke 1:57, 76-77, New International Version).
Moreover, before the Christian Era, God sent Moses to be the ruler and savior of His ancient nation, Israel. God sent him to save and free the Israelites from the bondage of slavery in Egypt (Acts 7:20, 35).
Another messenger of God who was sent for the salvation of God's people was Apostle Paul. He quoted a prophecy from the Old Testament of the Bible about God's commissioning of him. The prophecy said, "I have set you as a light to the Gentiles; That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47, NKJV).

Indeed, in different periods of time, God sends His messengers with the primary purpose of salvation for His nation which, undoubtedly, is the greatest of all blessings.

God's Messenger in these last days
This very purpose of God in sending a messenger—to bring salvation to His nation—was also fulfilled in His commissioning of a messenger from the Far East. The prophecy from the book of Isaiah states:
"Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. "Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, Who are far from righteousness: I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, For Israel My glory." (Isa. 46:11-13, Ibid.)
According to the prophecy, the messenger from a far country in the East, whose work is likened to that of a bird of prey, will be God's instrument in bringing salvation to people who are far from righteousness.
The righteousness being referred to is the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17). The work entrusted to this prophesied messenger was likened to that of a bird of prey because the people to whom he was sent are being held back by false religions. Hence, according to another prophecy, the messenger—whose work is to bring salvation to the people he was sent to—will take the nation of God out of false religions; in other words, they need to be brought out from the grips of false beliefs so that they will not receive the plagues and, thus, be saved (Rev. 18:4-5).
We faithfully believe that the fulfillment of this prophecy is none other than Brother Felix Y. Manalo. Other biblical prophecies concerning God's commissioning of a messenger in these last days that have found fulfillment in him are in Revelation 7:2-3; Isaiah 41:9-16; 46:11-13; 43:5-7; and John 10:16, among others. Thus, just like in the beginning, God's main purpose in sending His messenger in these last days is for the salvation of His people.
Consequently, in our time, man would truly benefit from this commissioning if he understands and fulfills the holy purpose of God in sending His messenger in these last days; by joining the Church of Christ that re-emerged through the instrumentality of His messenger, man will be assured of everlasting benefits and blessings: eternal life and salvation.

Preaching, laboring, reconciling
Inasmuch as salvation is the main purpose of God in sending messengers, those whom He sent, like the apostles, proclaimed God's words even if they had to labor and sacrifice to perform their God-given tasks. As Apostle Paul attested:
"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." (Col. 1:28-29, NIV)
Messengers of God labored and struggled in teaching His words be¬cause they want us to be presented perfect in Christ which is the quality possessed by those worthy of receiving salvation (Col. 1:28-29). Yet, in preaching God's words, His messengers do not preach themselves but Christ Jesus (II Cor. 4:5). This is the hallmark of true preachers. Hence, a true messenger of God does not invent or come up with his own teachings; he does not use human wisdom to persuade people but the testimony of the Holy Spirit and the power of God so that our faith "should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (I Cor. 2:4-5, NKJV). Such can be said of Brother Felix Manalo: he did not preach anything of his own; instead, what he preached with power and authority were the pure and unadulterated words of God. This is why we firmly believe that Brother Felix Manalo is God's Messenger in these last days.
Furthermore, the objective of God's messengers in preaching His words is to reconcile man to God through Christ. Man has been separated from God and has become His enemy because of sin; thus, man needs to be reconciled to God. Such reconciliation can be made possible through God's messengers because to them are given the word and the ministry of reconciliation:
"Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (II Cor. 5:20, 18-19, Ibid.)
Hearing and believing in the gospel preached by God's Messenger leads to being reconciled with God and attaining salvation. Holy and noble, indeed, is the purpose of the Messenger in preaching, laboring, and enduring all things for the benefit of the elect or the members of the Church of Christ as this will result in their salvation come Judgment Day:
"Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." (II Tim. 2:10, Ibid.)

Valuing their labors and sacrifices
Members of the Church of Christ give value to the labors and sacrifices of God's messenger by remembering him and holding on to the teachings he taught to them (I Cor. 11:2). And we prove that we hold on to the teachings taught to us by the Messenger when we put them into action or obey them: 3 "
"Dearest friends, you were always so careful to follow my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to put into action God's saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. ... "Hold tightly to the word of life, so that when Christ returns, I will be proud that I did not lose the race and that my work was not useless." (Phil. 2:12, 16, New Living Translation)
This is what the brethren today are doing under the leadership of the pres¬ent Church Administration; we strive all the more to faithfully hold on to or obey what the Messenger endeavored to teach us even though he is no longer with us. In so doing, when Judgment Day comes, he can be proud of us when he finds that his labors and sacrifices—for our own salvation—have not been in vain. Clearly, if we want to truly benefit from God's purpose in sending His messenger in these last days, we should stand firm on being obedient always.
Indeed, the commemoration of the birth anniversary of the Messenger of God in these last days this month of May would be more relevant and meaningful if we reaffirm our commitment to God that with unflinching resolve we will constantly obey His commandments and follow the rules and regulations being implemented in the Church every mo¬ment of our lives.
In addition, Apostle Peter stated how the obedient can be identified:
"[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel]." (I Pet. 1:14, Amplified Bible)
The obedient are no longer found in any act or conduct that conforms to the evil desires they used to have when they were still ignorant of the will of God. Thus, for our own benefit on the Second Coming of Christ we must rid ourselves of any wicked deeds or behavior; for our salvation, we must completely renew our life, which is expected of those who have been taught by the Messenger. Truly, remembering the works and labors of Brother Felix Manalo would not be complete if we do not manifest in words and action our firm resolve to cast away our old, wicked ways and walk in the newness of life.

Remaining steadfast
Moreover, faithful members of the Church of Christ who truly value the labors of the Messenger are willing to suffer and endure as well—remaining steadfast happen what may in their lives—to be worthy of salvation:
"We proudly tell God's other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. But God will use this persecution to show his justice. For he will make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering." (II Thess. 1:4-5, NLT)
And so, we should never give up our membership in the Church of Christ. Amid temptations, hindrances, and misfortunes in life, we should do what it takes to remain inside the Church of Christ. Also, if we remain steadfast in the faith, it would be as if the Messenger of God were still alive, as Apostle Paul put it: "For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord" (I Thess. 3: 8, NKJV). This is because just as the fruits of the work of Apostle Paul were the seal of his apostleship, so are we the seal of the authority of the Messenger of God in these last days (I Cor. 9:2). Hence, if we stand firm in our membership in the Church of Christ, then it is as though the Messenger of God were still alive because we are the seal of his being sent by God; we are the result of his work for the Lord (I Cor. 9:1).
In short, no one among us today could have become a member of the Church of Christ or a Church officer—a deacon, a deaconess, a choir member, a secretary, finance officer, etc., had there been no messenger who preached and brought us to the true Church. All of us are the fruits of the labors of the Messenger of God in these last days, no matter who instructed us in biblical doctrines, as Apostle Paul who was the messenger to the Gentiles attested:
"For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." (I Cor. 4:15, NKJV)

'Time of testing'
Without a doubt, all of us became members of the Church of Christ that emerged from the Philippines as a result of the preaching function of Brother Felix Y. Manalo. However, it is not enough that we are the result of his work and sacrifices; that we are now listed in the Church registry. What is expected of us is to continue steadfast and strong in the faith, always trusting God, obeying the teachings we received through His Messenger, and remaining righteous before His sight. To such faithful servants, God assures His abiding guidance, help, and salvation:
"But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them and deliver them, because they trust him. Though he fall, he shall never be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with his hand." (Ps. 37:39-40, 24, Ibid.)
Thus, as we look back on how the messenger of God in these last days spent his life for our salvation's sake, may our God Almighty see in us our heartfelt desire to value the labors and sacrifices of His messenger. That even if the "great time of testing" may come, when life becomes more complicated and difficult because of trials and tribulations, we will patiently obey—inspired by the Messenger of God in these last days and the present Church Administration—to ensure God's protection and salvation that is at hand:
"Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. Look, I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown." (Rev. 3:10-11, NLT) *


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