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 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. 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