House of Worship of the Church of Christ (Iglesia ni Cristo)

House of Worship of the Church of Christ (Iglesia ni Cristo)
House of Worship of the Church of Christ (Iglesia ni Cristo)

Lunes, Agosto 13, 2012

God's Planting

By Ruben D. Aromin

ALTHOUGH CHURCHES professing to be Christians are so numerous nowadays that one can hardly count them, there remains the biblical truth there is only one Church or religion that belongs to our Lord God. The Holy Scriptures, being the repository of God’s revealed truth, which man should accept and believe, is never wanting in revelations about which religion or church is the true one. Hence, people should not allow themselves to be confused or to be hoodwinked into believing that all religions or churches belong to Him, neither should they stop searching for the true one, until they have finally found it, because what is at stake here is no less than the salvation of their souls.

The Bible illustrates in various ways how God’s people – those who belong to the true Church or religion -- can be recognized. One lucid illustration depicts God’s chosen people as His planting – distinct and unique from those which He did not plant or those who do not belong to Him. The prime importance of being God’s planting is underscored in these words of our Lord Jesus Christ:
“… Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.” (Matt.15:13, New King James Version)

The plants, which God did not plant, obviously, do not belong to Him and they will be uprooted come the appointed time. These are the churches or religions that were not established by Him.

They are likened to tares that will be “gathered and burned in the fire … at the end of this age” (Matt. 13:40, Ibid.) or on Judgment Day. How they came about, the Lord Jesus explains that “an enemy has done this,” referring to the devil as “the enemy who sowed them” (Matt. 13:28, 39, Ibid.)

Indeed, to be God’s planting or to be among His people is very important because on Judgment Day, those that are not His planting will be uprooted and burned in the lake of fire.

God’s planting in the ancient time
The Psalmist points out which was God’s planting during the ancient period:
“You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it.” (Ps. 80:8, Ibid.)

The planting of God that He brought out of Egypt was no other than the nation of Israel that God established to be His own people. The Prophet Isaiah explains that “the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant …” (Isa. 5:7, Ibid.).

As God’s planting, His established nation and chosen people, the Israelites were towering in importance before the sight of God over all the other peoples of the world during their time:
“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” (Deut. 7:6, Ibid.)
 There were already many nations established during the time of ancient Israel but only the Israelites were chosen by God to be a people for Himself. Only Israel was God’s planting during that time. As such, He was counting on them to bring forth good grapes. However, what Israel brought forth instead wee wild grapes. God said of His planting:

“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes? And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.” (Isa. 5:3-5, Ibid.)

As ancient Israel fell short of God’s expectation, He decided to take away from His vineyard its hedge, burn it, break down its wall, and be trampled down. Israel did not remain as God’s planting and God rejected them as His people.

God’s planting in the Christian era
God had prophesied, through Prophet Isaiah, whom He would send to begin a new group of people who would glorify Him and who would replace ancient Israel as His planting. The prophecy states:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim he acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isa. 61:1-3, Ibid.)

Our Lord Jesus Christ proved that He was the one referred to as God’s planting in the prophecy when, after reading this same prophecy, He declared: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:17-21, Ibid.). However, Christ is not the only planting of God; as the true vine, He has branches. Says our Lord:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. … I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1, 5, Ibid.)

As Christ, the vine, is God’s planting, so are His branches. Christ and His branches belong to God and are recognized by God as His chosen people. As for what the branches are intended, the prophecy clarifies, thus:
“Also your people shall all be righteous; They shall inherit the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, that I may be glorified.” (Isa. 60:21, Ibid.)
God’s planting is for His glory, so a person can truly glorify God only if he is included among God’s planting or if he is among God’s chosen people. Christ and His branches are chosen by God to give glory unto Him in replacement of ancient Israel that was formerly His planting.

The vine and the branches

The equivalent of Christ’s being the vine and those who belong to Him as the branches could be read in this illustration of Apostle Paul:
“And He is the head of the body, the church.” (Col. 1:18, Ibid.)

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” (Rom. 13:4-5, Ibid.)

Christ, who is the vine, is the head, and the members of the Church, which is his body, are the branches. The Church headed by Christ is named after Him – Church of Christ (Rom. 16:16; Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation).

Christ and the members of the Church which He established in the first century were God’s planting. God expected them to glorify Him. However, Apostle Paul forewarned that the first-century Church of Christ would apostatize or turn away from the true faith, thus would stop giving glory unto God:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; … Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (I Tim. 4:1, 3, King James Version)

This turning away from the faith of the early Christians occurred after the “departure” or death of the apostles (Acts 20:29-30, 37-38; II Tim. 4:6-8). Indeed, when the apostles were gone, the Church that they had left behind listened to and followed the “doctrines of devils,” two of which are forbidding to marry and abstension from eating meat. These doctrines can be found in the Catholic Church, the church that prides itself to be the continuation of the Church administered by the apostles (The Unbroken Chain, p. 4). The Catholic Church forbids its “priests to marry after their ordination” (The faith of Our Fathers, p. 328), and it also commands its members “to fast and abstain from flesh meat on certain days of the year” (Manual of Christian Doctrine: Comprising Dogma, Moral, and Worship, p. 317). Upholding such doctrines clearly shows that the Catholic Church is indeed the result of the apostasy that took place when the first-century Church of Christ turned away from the true faith after the death of the apostles. Thus, just as Israel, God’s planting in ancient time, turned away from Him, so did the first-century Church of Christ which God appointed to replace it. And just as Israel continued to exist as a nation, but no longer as God’s nation, so did the Church that started in the first century, but no longer as the Church that belonged to God and to Christ, because it had turned into an apostate church.

God’s planting in these last days

With the turning away from the true faith of the first-century Church, God again planted a replacement as He had promised, thus:
“I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, The myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the cypress tree and the pine And the box tree together, That they may see and know, And consider and understand together, That the hand of the LORD has done this, And the Holy On e of Israel has created it.” (Isa. 41:19-20, NKJV)

God’s planting in the wilderness herein referred to is the work and creation of His hand. He planted in the wilderness because the apostasy that overtook the first-century Church is illustrated in the Bible as that of a “woman [who] fled into the wilderness (Rev. 13:6, Ibid.). The woman represents a church, for the true Church is likened by Apostle Paul to a chaste virgin (II Cor. 11:2. The first-century Church when it had apostatized became “a land in which there is no man” (Job 38:26, NKJV). Although the organization has persisted and continued, it has lost its right and privilege to glorify God, and hence, the first-century Church of Christ died out as God’s planting after the death of the apostles. And so God promised to plant again in replacement to His former planting.

The beginning of God’s planting

To start out His planting in these last days, God sent a messenger whom He had “taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions.” And to whom He assured, “You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not for I am with you, Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:9-10, Ibid.).

The time “ends of the earth” refers to that period when the end of the world or the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus “is near – at the doors” (Matt. 24:3, 33, Ibid.), as He emphatically pointed out, giving as signs, events that had global significance, like the two world wars, World War I and World War II, that broke out in succession on July 27, 1914 and on September 1, 1939, respectively (Matt. 24:6-7; The Story of the Great War, vol. 3, p. 923). It was at the start of the first global war that God’s planting at the ends of the earth officially emerged through the instrumentality of His chosen servant whom He had given the right to serve and worship Him and to whom He promised to help, strengthen, and uphold with His righteous right hand or the gospel, which God’s righteousness for salvation (Rom. 1:16-17).

The Church of Christ believes that the chosen servant whom God has sent to begin His planting in these last days was fulfilled in Brother Felix Y. Manalo, who preached this Church in 1914. Through his preaching of the gospel, which God promised to uphold him with, God’s sons and daughters from the far east, the Philippines being the country I the far east in which the prophecy was fulfilled, were gathered together (Isa. 43:5-6, Moffatt Translation; Asia and the Philippines, p. 169), resulting in the reemergence of the true Church of Christ, God’s planting in these last days. In order for this plating to grow in the “wilderness,” as the first-century Church of Christ turned apostate and became devoid of people faithful to God’s teachings, God said in the prophecy that He “would make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land springs of water” (Isa. 41:18, NKJV). The water that God would cause to flow in the wilderness for His planting to grow is His words (John 4:10-15) and the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39), both of which have been received by those who believed in the preaching of God’s words by His messenger. The once desolate wilderness is now again populated with member of the true Church, God’s chosen people who firmly believe and faithfully obey His commandments. A s God’s planting, the Church of Christ is continuously nurtured with His words, which are incessantly preached in the congregational worship services of its member throughout the world, together with the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit -- all for the glory and honor if its vinedresser, the Father in heaven.
God's Message: August 2006/ Volume 06/Number 8/ ISSN 0116-1636/ pp. 12-15

Biyernes, Abril 20, 2012


By: Donald Pinnock

MILLIONS OF PEOPLE worldwide think that they have come to accept the Lord Jesus Christ because they profess faith in Him. This is evident in the vast number of religious organizations, many of which are affiliated to major “Christian” churches. While there are those who have warped motives in practicing religion, there are also those who genuinely want to serve God and Christ and attain salvation.

However, the intent to serve God and Christ is not enough in order for such devotion to be accepted. This is made clear from the pronouncement of the Savior Himself:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21, New King James Version)

Christ dispels the notion that just because a person believes in Him, claims to have accepted Him as Savior, and considers himself as a Christian (or followers of Jesus,) he is automatically accepted as one and can attain eternal life.

So the issue is, how can one become a true disciple of the Lord Jesus? How can one be counted among those who are of Christ? It is by obeying His teachings:

“So Jesus said to those who believed in him, ‘If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’.” (John 8:31-32, Today’s English Version)

If one refuses to obey Christ’s teachings, even if he claims to have faith in Him, will he be accepted by the Lord? No, as He emphatically pronounced:

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and yet don’t do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46, Ibid.)

Thus, anyone who wants to be recognized by Christ has to obey His instructions. What is one teaching of Christ that a person should comply with in order to be accepted by Him? The Savior Himself states: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10;9, NKJV).

Those who have entered Christ are on the right path to salvation and, hence, are recognized and accepted by Him. How can these people be identified? To whom does our Lord Jesus Christ serve as the door? In John 10:7 it is written:
“Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep’ “(Ibid.).
Our Lord Jesus is the door of the sheep, who are gathered in only one flock (John 10:16). Which is the flock? It is none other than the Church of Christ:

“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 Translation)

Membership in the Church of Christ is, thus, of paramount importance. This Church is what Christ recognizes as His own. Its members are the true Disciples of Christ.

Others may say that even though they are not members of the Church of Christ, they still belong to Christ. The Lord Jesus says the following to those who are not in the flock or Church of Christ:

“But you do not believe and trust and rely on Me because you do not belong to My fold [you are no sheep of Mine]. The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages [To all eternity they shall never by any means be destroyed]. And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:26-28, Amplified Bible)

Christ dismisses those who are not within His fold or flock as “no sheep of Mine.” Those who truly belong to Christ listen to His voice and follow Him, thus Christ says, “I know them.” They whom Christ acknowledges as His sheep because they are members of His Church, are the ones who have the sure hope of receiving eternal life, as long as they remain in Him and endure until the end (Matt. 24:13).

For some people, however, the idea of the Church of Christ being a single religious body or organization seems preposterous and unacceptable. To them, Christianity and the Church during the time of Christ and the apostles has mushroomed into the numerous religious organizations and denominations in existence today. But before the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven, did He make mention of anything concerning His Church? In John 10:16, Christ stated:
“I have other sheep too. They are not in this flock here. I must lead them also. They will listen to my voice. In the future there will be one flock and one shepherd” (Easy-to-Read Version).
Notice that Christ mentions “In the future there will be one flock.” “In the future,” Christ promised when He was still here on earth, “there will be one flock” or Church of Christ. How can this time frame be more accurately ascertained? Acts 2:39 reveals this:

“For it was to you that the gift was promised, to you and your children, and to all those in distant times and places and whom the Lord our God calls to him.” (Rieu Translation)

In this pronouncement of the apostle Peter, he makes known the three groups of people that comprise the one true Church of Christ. The Jews who believed in the preaching of Christ and the apostles made up the first group to whom Apostle Peter said, “for the promise is to you.” The Gentiles or non-Jews at that time who also entered the Church comprised the second group, “and your children” – not children of the Jews in the flesh (all Jews who entered the Church were included in the first group – Acts 2:36) but rather children in the faith. The first two groups were called during the time of the apostles (Rom. 9:24). On the other hand, the third group were yet to be called, because their calling would happen at a “distant time and place” from that of the apostles.

Which is this distant time being referred to? In a related prophecy, the Lord God proclaims the following:

“I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth – Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” (Isa. 43:6-7, NKJV)

What the prophecy refers to as “My name” is the name given by God to Christ (John 17:11, TEV; Acts 2:36). Those whom God called and recognizes as His sons and daughters at the time “ends of the earth” would be called by the name of Christ, or as members of the Church of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation). The expression “ends of the earth” refers to the time when the end of the world is near (Matt. 24:3, 33). It began with the outbreak of the prophesied war which would be rumored or news about it would spread the world over (Matt. 24:6-7). This prophesied war was fulfilled in the First World War which broke out on July 27, 1914:

“The first great campaign on the southeastern battle grounds of the Great War began on July 27, 1914, when the Austrian troops undertook their first invasion of Serbia…” (Francis J. Reynolds, et al., The Story of the Great War: History of the European War From Official Sources, vol. 2, p.291)

If the “distant time” referred to by the apostles is the time “ends of the earth”, what about the “distant place” from where the third and final group of those to be called into the true Church of Christ would originate? In the preceding verse, Isaiah 43:5, we can read the following:

“From the far east will I bring your offspring, and from the far west I will gather you.” (Moffatt Translation)

There is only one Church that passes all the criteria for being recognized as that which belongs to Christ – the Church of Christ or Iglesia ni Cristo. It was officially registered with the government of the Philippines (a country in the Far East) on July 27, 1914, on exactly the same day when the war prophesied by Christ almost 2,000 years ago broke out. The gathering of those to be called as sons and daughters of God would eventually reach the Far West, with congregations of the Church being established firstly in Ewa, Hawaii on July 27, 1968 through the instrumentality of the late Executive Minister, Brother Erano G. Manalo.

That is why the invitation of Christ that He uttered two millenniums ago is still open for those who want their acknowledgment and acceptance of the Savior to be reciprocated by Him:

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, … 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.” (John 10:9, 16, NKJV)

Those who enter the flock or Church of Christ and remain until the end are the ones assured of salvation (Matt. 24:13).

Some take risk in various arenas of life, but no one should take chances when it comes to the future of the soul. Inside the Church of Christ, one’s sacrifices and labors in pleasing the Lord by obedience to His will are not in vain. All will result to his salvation.

God's Message: October 2008/ Volume 60/ Number 10/ ISSN 0116-1636/ pp. 12-16


Biyernes, Marso 23, 2012

Ang Pangalan ng Iglesia na Itinatag ni Cristo

Ni Greg F. Nonato

ANG PANGALAN AY MAHALAGA. Ito ay itinatawag at isa sa ikakikilala sa isang tao, bagay, lugar o organosasyon. Nang lalangin ng Diyos ang unang tao, siya ay binigyan Niya ng pangalan---Adan. Ang babae na ibinigay ng Diyos na makasama ni Adan ay binigyan niya ng pangalan---Eva. Ang mga hayop na nilalang ng Diyos ay binigyan din ni Adan ng mga pangalan (Gen. 2:20).

Sa Biblia, malimit na ang pangalan ay may kahulugan tulad ng pangalang Adan na ang kahulugan ay tao. Ang pangalan ni Eva ay nangangahulugang ina ng lahat ng nabubuhay (Gen. 3:20). Matapos patayin ni Cain ang kaniyang kapatid na si Abel, ang ipinanganak ni Eva ay pinangalanang Set na ang kahulugan ay itinakda o kahalili. Naaangkop ang pangalang ito sapagkat si Set ay naging kahalili ni Abel. Ilan lamang ito sa mga halimbawa ng mga pangalang ibinigay na may kaugnayan sa mga pangyayari noong una.

Ang pangalan ng Iglesiang itinatag ni Cristo
Ang isa sa mga ikakikilala sa tunay na Iglesia na itinatag ni Cristo ay ang pangalan. Ano ang pangalan ng Iglesiang itinatag ni Cristo at anu-ano ang ipinakikilala ng pangalang ito? Sa Roma 16:16 ay ganito ang nakasulat:

"Mangagbatian kayo ng banal na halik. Binabati kayo ng lahat ng mga iglesia ni Cristo."
Sa Bagong Tipan, ang pangalang opisyal na itinawag sa Iglesiang itinatag ni Cristo ay Iglesia ni Cristo. Angkop na angkop ang pangalang ito sa ipinahayag ni Cristo, "itatayo ko ang aking iglesia" (Mat. 16:18). Ipinakikilala ng pangalang Iglesia ni Cristo ang pagmamay-ari ni Cristo sa Iglesia. Ipinakikilala rin nito ang pagkakaugnay ni Cristo at ng Iglesia:

At siya ang ulo ng katawan, sa makatuwid baga'y ng iglesia." (Col.1:18)
Bukod sa mga nabanggit, ipinakikilala rin ng pangalang Iglesia ni Cristo ang kaugnayan nito sa kaligtasan:

"At sa kanino mang iba ay walang kaligtasan: sapagka't walang ibang pangalan sa silong ng langit, na ibinigay sa mga tao, na sukat nating ikaligtas." (Gawa 4:12)
Ang kaligtasan ay matatagpuan lamang sa pangalan ni Cristo. Marapat lamang, kung gayon, na ang Iglesia na itinatag Niya ay tawagin sunod sa pangalang Cristo---Iglesia ni Cristo---sapagkat ito ang ililigtas ni Cristo:

"Sapagkat ang lalaki ang ulo ng kanyang asawa, tulad ni Cristo na siyang ulo ng iglesya, na kanyang katawan, at siyang Tagapagligtas nito." (Efe. 5:23, Magandang Balita Biblia)

Patotoo ng iba't ibang relihiyon
Isang paring Jesuita na si Francis B. Cassily ay nagpapatotoo na ang Iglesiang itinatag ni Cristo ay tinawag na Iglesia ni Cristo o "Church of Christ". Ganito ang kaniyang isinulat:

"5. Si Jesucristo ba ay natatag ng Iglesia? Oo, mula sa lahat ng kasaysayan, kapuwa panlupa at hindi pangkabanalan, mula sa Biblia na kinikilalang isang makataong kasulatan, ating nalaman na si Jesucristo ay nagtatag ng isang Iglesia, na mula sa kauna-unahang panahon ay tinawag na sunod sa Kaniyang pangalan, ang Iglesia Cristiana o ang Iglesia ni Cristo." (Religion: Doctrine and Practice, pp. 442-443)
Maging ang Protestante na si Myer Pearlman ay nagpapatotoo rin na Iglesia ni Cristo ang itinatag ni Cristo. Tunghayan natin ang kaniyang isinulat:

"... hinulaan ni Cristo ang pagtatatag ng isang bagong kongregasyon o iglesia, isang institusyong sa Diyos na dapat magpatuloy ng Kaniyang gawain sa mundo. Mat. 16:18. Ito ang iglesia ni Cristo ..." (Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible, p. 349)
Si James E. Talmage ng Mormon Church ay nagbigay rin ng patotoo na Iglesia ni Cristo ang wastong pangalan ng Iglesia na itinatag ni Cristo:

"Ipinagkaloob niya ang kapangyarihan sa Iglesia, ipinaliwanag niya ang kahalagahan ng pagtawag sa organisasyon sa pangalang marapat dito---Ang Iglesia ni Cristo ..." (The Great Apostasy, p.12)
Si John Hus na sinundan ng mga repormador ay nagpapatotoo rin na Iglesia ni Cristo ang itinatag ni Cristo:

"'At sinasabi ko naman sa iyo, ikaw ay Pedro, at sa ibabaw ng batong ito ay itatayo ko ang Aking Iglesia, at ang mga pintuan ng impiyerno ay hindi makapananaig laban sa kaniya. Ibibigay ko sa iyo ang mga susi ng kaharian ng langit, at anumang talian ninyo sa lupa ay tatalian sa langit at anumang kalagan ninyo sa lupa ay kakalagan sa langit". Binanggit ng Ebanghelyo rito ang tungkol sa Iglesia ni Cristo, ang kaniyang pananampalataya at ang kaniyang pundasyon at awtoridad. Ang Iglesia ay tinukoy ng mga salitang, 'itatayo ko ang aking Iglesia'." (Forerunners of the Reformation: The Shape of Late Medieval Thought, p. 231)
Iba pang katawagan sa Iglesia
Itinatanong ng iba: "Kung Iglesia ni Cristo ang panglan ng tunay na Iglesia, bakit sa Bagong Tipan ay may mababasa na 'iglesia ng mga banal'?"

Totoong sa Bagong Tipan ay may iba't ibang katawagang ginamit upang tumukoy sa Iglesia ni Cristo. Isa na rito ang "iglesia ng mga banal" (I Cor. 14:33). Subalit, ang katawagang ito ay hindi siyang opisyal na pangalan ng Iglesiang itinatag ni Cristo, kundi, tumutukoy lamang ito sa uri ng mga kaanib nito:

"At ganyan ang mga ilan sa inyo: nguni't nangahugasan na kayo, nguni't binanal na kayo, nguni't inaring-ganap na kayo sa pangalan ng Panginoong Jesucristo, at sa Espiritu ng ating Dios." (I Cor. 6:11)
Ang "iglesia ng mga banal" ay katawagang tumutukoy sa uri o katangian ng mga kaanib sa Iglesia --- sila ay binanal. Sila ay pinapaging banal kay Cristo (I Cor. 1:2) at tinawag upang mangagpakabanal (Roma 1:7). Sila ay pinili upang maging banal at walang dungis sa pag-ibig (Efe. 1:4).May mababasa rin sa Bagong Tipan na "iglesia ng mga panganay" (Heb. 12:23). Hindi rin ito tumutukoy sa pangkalahatang pangalan ng Iglesiang itinatag ni Cristo. Bagkus, ito ay tumutukoy sa mga Judio na panganay o mga unang naging kaanib sa Iglesia na itinatag ni Cristo. Tinawag din silang mga pangunahing bunga (Apoc. 14:4). Kaya ang "iglesia ng mga panganay" ay katawagang tumutukoy sa isang bahagi ng mga kaanib sa Iglesia --- ang mga Judio. Mayroon ding mga mababasa sa Bagong Tipan na "iglesia ng Galacia" (Gal. 1:2), "iglesia ng Macedonia" (II Cor. 8:1), "iglesia ng mga Gentil" (Roma 16:4), "iglesia ng Dios na nasa Corinto" (I Cor. 1:2), "iglesia na nasa Antioquia" (Gawa 13:1), "iglesia na nasa Jerusalem" (Gawa 8:1), at marami pang iba. Ang lahat ng mga ito ay tumutukoy hindi sa kabuuan ng Iglesiang itinatag ni Cristo, kundi sa mga lokal o mga dako na narating ng Iglesia ni Cristo sa panahaon ng mga apostol. Sa katunayan, hindi angkop na tawaging "Iglesia ng mga Gentil" ang mga Judio na naging kaanib sa Iglesia. Gayundin naman, hindi angkop na ang Iglesia na nasa Jerusalem ay tawaging "Iglesia ng Macedonia." Ngunit angkop na itawag sa mga kaanib sa Iglesia na itinatag ni Cristo saan man silang dako naroon ang pangalang Iglesia ni Cristo (Roma 16:16).

'Iglesia ng Diyos', 'Cristiano'
Sa Bagong Tipan, lalo na sa mga sulat ni Apostol Pablo, maraming ulit na tinawag ding "iglesia ng Dios" ang Iglesia na itinatag ni Cristo (I Cor. 1:2; 11:22; 15:9; II Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:13; I Tim. 3:5, 15). Dapat na mapansin na sa mga pagkakataong ginamit ni Apostol pablo ang "iglesia ng Dios,' lagi niyang ipinatutungkol ito sa mga Gentil na kaanib sa Iglesia ni Cristo. Ang tinatawag na Gentil ay hindi kabilang sa mga Israelita at itinuturing walang Diyos (Efe. 2:12). Dati ay hindi sila bayang ng Diyos (Roma 9:24-25, MB) at hindi sila kumikilala sa tunay na Diyos (I Tes. 4:5) sapagkat iniligaw sila sa mga piping diyus-diyusan (I Cor. 12:2). Subalit nang sila ay maging kaanib sa Iglesia na itinatag ni Cristo, hindi na sila ibinibilang na taga-ibang bayan (Efe. 2:19) sapagkat sila ay kinikilala na ng Diyos bilang bayan Niya (Roma 9:24-25), MB). Samakatuwid, ang katawagang "iglesia ng Dios" ay ginagamit upang bigyang-diin sa mga Gentil na umanib sa Iglesia na sila ay sa Diyos na.

Ang terminong "Cristiano" ay ginamit din patungkol sa Iglesia ni Cristo. Ang unang pagkakataon na tinawag na Cristiano ang mga kaanib sa Iglesia ay noong  makarating sila sa Antioquia (Gawa 11:26). Bagaman sa panahon ngayon ito ay ginagamit ng iba para tumukoy sa iba't ibang iglesia o samahang panrelihiyon na nag-aangking sumasampalataya sila kay Cristo, ang salitang "Cristiano" ay nagmula sa pangalang "Cristo" at angkop na ikapit sa mga taong sumusunod sa mga aral o salita ni Cristo (The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words, p. 56).

Walang alinlangan na ang pinakaugat ng salitang "Cristiano" ay ang pangalang "Cristo." Subalit dapat maunawaan na, hindi magiging angkop na tawaging Cristiano ang isang tao kung hindi siya kaanib sa Iglesiang itinatag ni Cristo --- ang Iglesia ni Cristo. Maging ang mga awtoridad Katoliko ay ay ganito rin ang ipinahayag:

"Sinuman siya at anuman siya, siya na wala sa Iglesia ni Cristo ay hindi isang Cristiano." (The Papal Encyclicals, p. 39)

"Hindi kita ibibilang na isang Cristiano malibang makita kita sa Iglesia ni Cristo." (The Confession of St. Augustine, p. 117)
Maliwanag na ang pangalan ng tunay na Iglesia, ang Iglesia sa Bagong Tipan, ay Iglesia ni Cristo. Isa ito sa mga pagkakakilanlan sa tunay na Iglesiang pag-aari at itinatag ni Cristo. At yayamang malaki ang kaugnayan ng pangalang ito sa kaligtasan, ito ang Iglesiang dapat na ahanapin at aniban ng tao.


"5. Did Jesus Christ establish a Church? Yes, from all history, both secular and profane, as well as from the Bible considered as a human document, we learn that Jesus Christ established a Church, which from the earliest times ahs been called after Him the Christian Church or the Church of Christ." (Cassilly, Francis B., S.J. Religion: Doctrine and Practice. For Use in Catholic High Schools . Twelfth and Revised Edition. USA. Loyola University Press, 1926.)"...

Christ predicted the founding of a new congregation or church, a Divine institution that should continue His work on earth. Matth. 16:18. This is the church of Christ ..." (Pearlman, Myer. Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible. Springfield Missouri, USA: Gospel Publishing House, 1937, 1981.)"He conferred authority in the Church; explained the importance "of designating the organization by its proper name --- the Church of Christ ..." (Talmage, James E. The Great Apostasy. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1968.)

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 'The Gospel speaks here of the Church of Christ, its faith and its Church. ..." (Oberman, Heiko A. Forerunners of the Reformation: The Shape of Late Medieval Thought. Translation by Paul L. Nyhus. USA: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966.)

"Christian --- From the Greek words Christos, 'the anointed one, ': 'Christ', and ian, 'like', 'similar to'. The words refers to one who lives a life like Jesus, and in the name by which follower of Jesus, the Christ, are generally known." (Miethe, Terry L. The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words. Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA: Bethany House Publishers, 1988.)

"Whoever he is and whatever he is, he who is not in the Church of Christ is not a Christian." (Fremantle, Anne. The Papal Encyclicals: In Their Ministerial Context. New York, USA: Mentor Book, 1956.)

"I will not rank you as a Christian unless I will see you in the Church of Christ." (The Confession of st. Augustine. Translated by Edward B. Pusey, D.D. New York: Collier Books, 1961.)

Linggo, Nobyembre 13, 2011


Robert F. Pellien

“ARE YOU A Born Again Christian?” This is a common question asked by many religious groups today professing to be Christian. It may appear, at face value, to be but a simple, innocent question rooted only in curiosity. However, the question itself bears significant implications. Why? There are preachers today whose teaching leads others to conclude that one must wear the title “Born Again” upon himself so as to be considered a Christian, and thus be worthy to attain coveted salvation offered by our Lord Jesus Christ.

This led some to merely search out groups that use the phrase “Born Again” believing that if affiliated with such group, their salvation is secured. But, is that so? Is joining any group whose members simply call themselves “Born Again” a guarantee of salvation? Is being born again just a change in a person’s way of life, or there are more involved? These are some very important questions that one must ask before embracing a group declaring itself to be “Born Again”.

First, does the expression itself have any biblical basis? It was no less than our lord Jesus Christ who spoke it in a conversation he had with Nicodemus:
"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him’. In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’" (John 3:1-3, Ibid.)
It can be easily gleaned from this conversation that our lord Jesus Christ gave much importance to being born again and that it has direct relevance to one’s attaining eternal life. However, just as so many still today, Nicodemus misunderstood the declaration of the Savior. He asked Jesus:
"’How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.’" (John 3:4-5, Ibid.)
Clearly, Nicodemus misunderstood and was corrected by our lord Jesus Christ. Jesus went on to explain that being born again meant being born of water and spirit. The question that people must then ask themselves with a religious group that has for themselves a title of being “Born Again” or not, but rather if they have been born of water and spirit or not. How can a person determine if he has yet undergone such a rebirth via water and spirit?

Which are the water and the spirit one is to be born of? Jesus spoke of the water, not as that which would only quench a literal thirst:
"Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’" (John 4:13-14, Ibid.)
If  it  is  not a  literal  water that will quench one’s thirst being referred to, but rather a water that will bring one eternal life, what then is being referred to as the eternal life-giving rather that leads one to become born again?
"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." (I pet 1:23, Ibid.)
It is the word of God that will lead a person to become truly born again, not merely a self-proclamation. There is a process one must undergo, which begins with the cleansing power of the words of God. If that is what is meant by being born of water, what about the expression of Jesus when he mentioned that one must also be born of the spirit so as to be born again? Who is the spirit of which one must be born? Our lord Jesus Christ teaches:
"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24,Ibid.)
The bible teaches us that god is spirit. Thus, to be born again, one must be born of God and of his words. If not, one would only be laying claim to a position of being born again but without sound biblical basis for such claim.

The bible teaches us how the process of becoming born anew takes place. Apostle Paul taught:
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (II Cor. 5:17,New King James Version)
What takes place is a complete rebirth or the making of a new creation, according to apostle Paul. If a person has not undergone  this  process  of  renewal, he  could not truly born again.

So, who have become a new creation? Are they those who have merely made such a claim for themselves? No. According to Apostle Paul, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”. The Apostle identified those who are “in Christ”, thus:
"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace," (Eph. 2:14-15,Ibid.)
The new creation or those who are truly born again, therefore, are those who became part of the “one new man” which is composed of two parts. Anyone who wishes to be reborn or born again must be brought into the one new man by God through his words. It cannot be done by self declaration or only by affiliating oneself with a group that merely calls itself “Born Again”.
What are the two parts of the one new man which we are to become part of?
"And he is the head of the body, the church;...". (Col. 1:18,Ibid.)
The two parts of the one new man are Christ as head and the Church, his body. Which Church is Christ head of? It is the Church that carries his name—the Church of Christ:
"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 Translation)
All truly born again Christians, therefore, are those who have undergone the process of becoming a member of the true Church of Christ. They have been born of the spirit, born of God, or born of his word; therefore they have been added as parts of the one new man composed of a head and a body. They are in the body of Christ or Church of Christ.

Membership in the true Church of Christ is therefore necessary for one to become a true born again Christian. One question people should ask themselves is whether they are in the true Church headed by Christ.

But is entering the Church of Christ the only thing needed so as to be truly born again? No. The renewal of one’s life is an important requirement in the process as well. As mentioned by Apostle Paul in the verse quoted earlier, “the old things have passed away” (II Cor. 5:17, NKJV).

The ways of life that must be left behind by anyone becoming part of the Lord’s body or Church were described also by Apostle Paul, thus:
"Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes." (Eph. 4:22-23, New Living Translation)
The apostle also taught the church about what happens to the former self of a person once he becomes part of the new creation or is truly born again. It dies and is buried:
"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6:3-4, NKJV)
Jesus taught that we need to be born again to receive eternal life. We must therefore not resist the correct process of becoming truly “born again”. The bible does not show any shortcuts. One becomes a born-again Christian by becoming a member of the true Church of Christ and by living a life in accordance with the will of God.

God's Message: August 2008/ Volume 08/ ISSN 0116-1636/ pp. 29-31


By Jose J. Ventilacion

THE BIBLE TEACHES that God created man to serve and worship Him in accordance with His will. In return, God will grant him salvation. Obviously, God's plan to save man should be known and correctly apprehended. Without the proper knowledge of this plan of salvation man will totally lost instead of gaining God's blessings. Although the desire to be saved is in the heart and mind of many, there is confusion as to how salvation can be obtained.

Various opinions were advanced and presented for this goal to be achieved. A floodgate of opinions coming from theologians, scholars, spiritual gurus, and sometimes even from common people have saturated and confused the minds of those eagerly searching for salvation. Although their intention is for the welfare of their fellowmen, the various prescriptions for salvation have somewhat added insult to injury, as they only complicate the already sad state of uncertainty concerning the method of salvation.

Concerning the divine plan for the salvation of men, the best source of knowledge on how to achieve such grace is God Himself since it was He who created man and planned for his salvation. What does the Bible say concerning God's plan of salvation? Apostle Paul clarified:
"This is good and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth" (I Tim. 2:3-4, Today's English Version).
 God is the One who wants all men to be saved. However, according to His manner of saving man, he must know the truth and not base it on someone's mere opinion or assumption. No matter how nicely presented the idea is but if it runs contrary to the truth, it should not be entertained but rather should be rejected totally.

What is the truth that man should know so that he will be saved? In His mediatory prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed:
"Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17, New International Version).
The truth, which is the word of God, is also the gospel, which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone:
"...Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you ..." (Col. 1:5-6, English Standard Version).
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes ... ." (Rom. 1:16, NIV)
Anybody who is interested to be saved should not rely on somebody's opinions but should adhere to what the God-appointed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 2:11), has to say about it. The Savior proclaimed:
"... 'In very truth I tell you, I am the door of the sheepfold ... I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe' ..." (John 10:7, 9, Revised English Bible).
Jesus said that He was telling the "very truth"He is commanding everyone to come into the fold through Him for his salvation.

The fold is also the flock of the sheep (John 10:16). Thus anyone who wants to be saved should enter into the sheepfold or should be in the flock. What is the flock of Christ where those who have entered in Him are found? Apostle Paul stated:
"Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed your overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood." (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation)
The fold which is also the flock into which one must enter to be safe is the Church of Christ. Hence, it is very important for anyone who desires salvation to become a member of the Church of Christ. What if some refuse to follow this instruction? What will surely happen to those who are outside the Church of Christ? Apostle Paul said:
"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).
The Bible explicitly states the verdict of God on those who are outside the Church of Christthe wickedwill be judged! Man's refusal to join the Church of Christ is tantamount to being judged by God on the final day of reckoning.

However, those who refuse to accept this truth reason out that they do not need to be in the Church of Christ since they are God-fearing and consider themselves true Christians, because not only do they recognize Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal Savior but they serve Him with devotion. These people think that what they have done would be enough for them to merit salvation.

Does the Bible sanction this belief? According to Apostle Paul, what is even better? That you know God or that God knows you?
"But now you know God. Even better, God knows you ... so you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir" (Gal. 4:9, New International Reader's Version; Gal. 4:7, NIV).
Notice that what really matters is not the we simply say that we know and recognize God. What is more important is that God knows or recognizes us as His children. Those whom God knows or recognizes as His children are His heirs or the ones who will inherit His promises. It's only right and logical that He would grant the inheritance to someone whom He knows or to someone whom He has designated as His heir.

The same truth shines when we analyze the statement of the Lord Jesus to those whom He shall rebuff on Judgment Day:
"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord,  did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:22-23, 21, Ibid.)
What Christ is saying in these verses pertains to what will happen on Judgment Day. It will be a very sad situation for those who think that because they have drove out demons and performed miracles in the name of Christ, their services would give them easy access to heaven. Instead of being rewarded, they shall be driven out by the One whom they have supposedly served. Why? Because they have failed to do the will of God, the Father. This expectation on that day will be its opposite: rejection instead of salvation.

What is the will of God that should be done by those who are expecting to be rewarded with salvation on Judgment Day? Apostle Paul elucidates this:
"And he made known to up the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillmentto bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ" (Ibid.).
It is God's will that all be brought together under one head, that is, our Lord Jesus Christ. How can this be done? When all of those on earth shall be gathered together in the Church. Why in the Church? Because the Church is headed by Christ and it is His body (Col. 1:18).

The Church headed by Christ was called by the apostles as the Church of Christ:
"The common object of their labor was to bring the Christians maturity, to prepare them for Christian service and the building up of the Church of Christ ..." (Eph. 4:12, Norlie's Simplified New Testament).
Therefore, when all people shall be gathered in the Church of Christ, they have done the will of God. On the other hand, if people are scattered in different churches, then they are not able to do the will of God.

Those who reject the singularity of the one true Church of Christ reason out that the phrase "Church of Christ" is not referring to a single organization headed by Christ but to all Christian professing churches. They aver that these churches are collectively called the "Church of Christ." However, in the light of the Scriptures, this claim is not true since what are many are the parts of the body of Christ:
"You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ" (I Cor. 12:12, The Message).
The term "parts" in this version is rendered as "members" in the New King James Version. Therefore, the members are many while the body or the Church is only one.

Since the Church of Christ is the place where services to God will be acceptable, what does God want us to do so that we will receive life and blessing?
" I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God's blessing and God's curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life. Love the LORD your God, obey him and be faithful to him, and then you and your descendants will live long in the land that he promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." (Deut. 30:19-20, TEV)
God wants all men to live and not to die. For this to happen, man should choose life and blessing, by obeying God and being faithful to Him. What does God want man to obey? His will is for man to be gathered in Christ or in the Church of Christ. God waits for you now to make the right decision: to choose life, by becoming a member of the true Church of Christ, that someday you will be with Him in His eternal kingdom enjoying the promised salvation.

God's Message: September 2011/ Volume 63/ Number 9/ ISSN 0116-1636/ pp. 3-5

Sabado, Nobyembre 12, 2011


By Ruben D. Aromin

DURING THE TIME of early Christianity, to be branded as among the believers in Christ was a social stigma which would incur the ire and disgust of the world and would invite persecution and derision from the general populace. Today, however, "Christendom" offers a totally different picture. No longer are people ashamed to be called believers in Christ, but countless of them now claim and openly profess to be among their number. In fact, this expression has become so hackneyed and trite, each and every one who professes to be Christian appropriates this to himself, knowing fully well that no less than salvation is guaranteed by the Savior to those who truly believe in Him. There are even those who go so far as to use the expression to refer to all those belonging to different religious organizations or churches that allegedly make up the body of Christ, which is the Church of Christ. This view, which is usually found among the Protestants, has relegated membership to any particular church or religious organization as unimportant, for it holds that as long as an individual professes faith in Christ, accepts Him as Lord and Savior, he is a true believes and member of the Church of Christ and can share in Christ's promised salvation. For them, therefore, the expression "believers in Christ" refers to all professing Christians worldwide regardless of religious affiliation. What, indeed, is the biblical truth concerning the true believers? Who are they and what distinguishing qualities do they have which separate them from the rest of the Christian-professing people? Let us ask first, how does one become a true believer in Christ? The words of Christ clarify:
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44, New King James Version)
To be a true believer or follower of Christ, one must first be drawn by the Father to Christ and unless he is drawn by God to Him, he can not be a true believer or disciple. Apostle Paul explains that God draws people to Christ by calling them to have fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ:
"God is to be trusted, the God who called you to have fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord" (I Cor. 1:9, Today's English Version)
Those whom God has called to have fellowship with, or union with, Christ "were called in one body" (Col. 3:15, NKJV), which is the Church headed by our Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18). How fellowship was forged between Christ and the true believers in the Church headed by Him is explained further by the Apostle Paul thus:
"Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace." (Eph. 2:15, NKJV)
With the creation of the one new man out of two, referring to Christ as head and the Church as His body, fellowship and union was forged between Christ and those whom God has called. To have this fellowship with Christ and to be among the true believers, one must be "baptized into one body" (I Cor. 12:13), which is the Church headed by Christ or the Church of Christ. Members of the Church of Christ are the true believers in Christ, for they are the ones drawn by the Father to Christ and have fellowship with Him.

There is simply no truth to the allegation that all professing Christians, regardless of the church with which they are affiliated, are true believers and disciples of Christ. Neither is there truth to the allegation that the Church of Christ is composed of all the religious organizations or churches worldwide professing to be Christian. Apostle Paul dispels such allegations in pointing out that:
"Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts" (I Cor. 12:12, TEV).
It is the parts and not the body or Church which are many─Apostle Paul explicitly says that though it is made up of different parts, it is still "a single body, ... it is still one body." And these different parts are the individual members of that one religious body or Church of Christ as he clarifies further thus:
"For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;  or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;  he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness." (Rom. 12:4-8, NKJV)
The individual members who make up the one body of Christ or true Church of Christ are the ones who are many and not the churches or religious organizations that allegedly composed the Church of Christ. These individual members are endowed with different gifts or duties to perform in the only one religious body or Church. This one body or Church is characterized by its unity in everything which could not possibly be found in the aggrupation of various religious organizations with different and even conflicting teachings, practices, and administrations. The Apostle Paul points out thus:
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph. 4:4-6, Ibid.)
In the one body or true Church, the members share one hope of their calling; recognize one Lord, Jesus Christ, whom God made as their Lord (Acts 2:36); serve and worship one God who is the Father; and have a uniform set of teachings and doctrines as they share one faith and one baptism. And "God composed the body," in such a way so "that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another" (I Cor. 12:24, 25, NKJV). This could not be possibly said of the various religious organizations professing to be Christians for they espouse varied and differing teachings, beliefs and practices, belying the claim that they compose the one body of Christ or the Church of Christ.

Adherents of the Protestant faith claim that they are true believers in Christ and that they belong to Him. Although they do not subscribe to the church membership as requisites to the attainment of salvation, surprisingly they are themselves affiliated with different Protestant churches. In fact, as early as the mid-80's, it was reported by a Protestant writer that there were already "20,800 denominations in the world, supplemented by more than 15,000 distinct parachurch agencies" (Moody Monthly, Sept. 1984, p. 28). The same writer observed that this "division within the Church arose from unfaithfulness to Christ ... has marred the body of Christ," stating further that "today's churches bear little resemblance to the first-century model" (Ibid.). Indeed, the writer couldn't have put it better, for the true Church of Christ, of which the true believers are members, is not characterized by divisions and factions. The Apostle James emphasized to the true believers in the first century:
"But if you have bitter envying among you or strife in your hearts, do not boast and do not lie against the truth. This wisdom does not come from above, but it is earthly, sensual, devilish. For wherever envy and strife are, there is confusion and every sort of evil." (James 3:14-16, Lamsa Translation)
Clearly, division or strife, which is so characteristic of the Protestant faith, does not belong to God and to Christ. The Protestant churches, with all these divisions and denominations in their midst, are a far cry from the first-century Church of Christ. As such they are not the true believers and they could not have made up the body of Christ or the true Church of Christ.

Why could not just people be true believers even if they serve Christ and recognize Him as their Lord and Savior, as we see many people are claiming to be doing nowadays and because of this, they think that they already belong to Christ and will attain salvation? The Lord Jesus explains the reason why when He testifies:
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord', shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matt. 7:21-23, NKJV)
There is no doubt that the people being mentioned here by the Lord professes faith in Him and recognize Him as their Lord. They even have proofs of their vaunted faith in the Lord through the works of miracles that they have done in His name. Indeed, by their own standard, they could have easily passed themselves off as true believers in Christ and are entitled entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Sad to say, however, for Christ, they are not true believers, but false ones. In fact, instead of recognizing their efforts and even works of miracles in serving Him, Christ will reject them and will not save them. What is it that they didn't do, which is why they will be rejected and not be saved? Christ makes it very specific that only those who do the will of His Father will gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven, and those who did not, their services to Him will be in vain. What is this will of the Father concerning all men that if it is not done, profession of faith and the services rendered to Christ and to God will be useless? Apostle Paul enlightens us thus:
"And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." (Eph. 1:9-10, New International Version)
It is the will of the Father for all people to be brought together under one head who is Christ. How this is fulfilled, Apostle Paul further explains:
"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be the head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way" (Eph. 1:22-23, Ibid.).
The true believers in Christ have fulfilled the will of God, which is why they are members of Christ's body─the Church headed by Christ or the organization called the Church of Christ. Indeed, the importance of membership in this Church could not be overemphasized . Those who refuse to become members of this one religious body could not be true believers and will not be allowed entrance into the kingdom of heaven because they have not done the will of the Father in heaven.

Besides fulfilling the will of the Father, the true believers in Christ ─the members of the Church of Christ─have also fulfilled or followed the words of Christ. The Lord Jesus emphasizes the importance of doing what He says to qualify as His true believers. The Bible relates this:
"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples'." (John 8:31, Ibid.)
The true disciples and believers in Christ obey His teachings. They do not merely believe or profess faith in Christ, call on His name, and recognize Him as their Lord. Tin who do just that without following what He says are rebuked by the Lord:
"Why do you call of, 'Lord, Lord', and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46, Ibid.)
And what has Christ said which all true believers ought to follow in order for them to be saved? The gospel according to John records:
"So Jesus spoke again: In very truth I tell you, I am the door of the sheepfold. ... I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe." (John 10:7, 9, Revised English Bible)
To be safe or saved, one should obey these words of our Lord Jesus Christ to come into the sheepfold or flock in which those who have obeyed this bidding are found is the Church of Christ as testified to by the Apostle Paul:
"Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed your overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood." (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation)
Hence, the true believers in Christ, His sheep, are in only one sheepfold or flock which is the Church of Christ. It is of this one religious organization that those who have done the will of the Father and have obeyed Christ's  words are members. Those who are not in this flock have not followed Christ and are not among His sheep and therefore could not be true believers. Christ has this words for them to ponder on:
"But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." (John 10:26-28, NKJV)

God's Message: December 2006/ Volume 58/ Number 12/ ISSN 0116-1636/ pp. 9-12