God is truly the One guiding this Church through the administration He placed in it
THE SUCCESS of an organization is often attributed to its leadership. Those engaged in religious studies assert that that is true even for the Iglesia Ni Cristo. That could be the reason sociologist Jayeel Cornelio considers what he calls the “charisma” of Brother Felix Y. Manalo and those who succeeded him as Executive Minister as a factor contributing to the Church Of Christ’s success. (“The rise of INC: ‘Stricter religions grow stronger’,” July 26, 2014)
For its faithful members, the reason for the Church Of Christ’s success is simple and clear: God is truly the One guiding this Church through the administration He placed in it. A review of the biblical prophecies about God’s last work of salvation will show that His promised help and guidance not only were fulfilled in His Messenger, Brother Felix Manalo, but also continued to be fulfilled in those who succeeded him in serving as Executive Minister of the Church in these last days—Brother Eraño G. Manalo, who held such capacity for 46 years until his passing, and Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, who is now on his eleventh victorious year of administering the entire Church.
UpheƖd by God’s righteousness
God’s testimony to His Messenger, “I am with you,” is followed with His promise, “I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:9–10 King James Version 2000). God’s righteousness is the gospel or His words written in the Holy Scriptures (Rom. 1:16–17; II Tim. 3:14–15). True to form, Brother Felix Manalo did not teach man-made doctrines but relied solely on the pristine teachings of God in the Bible. His well-remembered words, “Believe not Manalo, but the Bible” indicate that he did not draw people toward himself but to God.
Such a firm conviction to “exalt the law and make it honorable” (Isa. 42:21 New King James Version) has been carried on to this day by ministers and ministerial workers of the Church led by the current Presiding Elder, Brother Eduardo Manalo. The Church today adheres firmly to the very same doctrines that were taught before. In fact, the same Bible lessons prepared by Brother Felix Manalo and Brother Eraño Manalo continue to be taught in its worship services around the world.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo’s strict preservation of and adherence to its Bible-based teachings—no matter if they run counter to certain popular religious beliefs or secular view—is probably what prompted Mr. Cornelio to describe its doctrines as having a “convincing dimension and character” to which he also attributes the Church’s success (“The rise of INC: ‘Stricter religions grow stronger’,” July 26, 2014).
Persecuted but vindicated
The advice “Fear not” in God’s prophetic pronouncements to His Messenger and the Church in these last days indicate how daunting their work would be. Isaiah 41:14 NKJV describes God’s new Jacob as “worm” in the eyes of detractors—“small and weak” (Good News Bible), scorned and despised (Ps. 22:6 New International Version). God’s last work of salvation would be met with persecution and opposition.
Nevertheless, along with the warning came the promise of vindication. God vowed that this “worm” would become “a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth” that would crush “mountains” (Isa. 41:15 NIV). God’s words are likened to a sharp weapon, a double-edged sword that can destroy false beliefs (Heb. 4:12; II Cor. 10:4–5). Therefore, as promised by God, His Messenger in the last days—equipped with the true knowledge of His words—would crush false belief systems likened to “mountains.” To illustrate how this has been realized, here is what an article from another magazine narrated:
“When the Iglesia first came to public notice, the nation literally sat up. The Catholic faith in particular, was greatly unnerved to the end that secretly pilloried the Iglesia Ni Cristo in no mean terms. Among the gossips retailed by the fanatics was that the INC does not believe in Jesus Christ and some such unwarranted charges that its followers trampled upon the Cross. … these absurdities only reveal the weakness of the Catholics who in reality felt being threatened. More so, because of the series of defections in the Catholic church in contrast to the growing number of people trooping the line to the Iglesia. The diminution of the Catholic church is best illustrated by the growing strength of the Iglesia which incidentally draws much of its following from the Catholic faith.” (“Iglesia Ni Cristo: A New International Religious Order,” The New Republic Free Press, January 1983, pp. 29, 24)
Through the years, the Church has faced various persecutions from many other adversaries, but as prophesied by God, they all have ended up “as nothing, As a nonexistent thing” (Isa. 41:12 NKJV) for, in spite of it all, the Church did not weaken but has kept on thriving.
Rising to the peak of gƖory
As God’s last work of salvation, the Church Of Christ that emerged in the Philippines is destined to further growth and worldwide expansion. When God’s glory has been revealed in the east, His name would be revered in the west (Isa. 59:19). As prophesied, God’s mission would not just be confined to the Far East; it would also reach the Far West (Isa. 43:5–6 Moffatt Translation). Almost 50 years since this prophecy was first fulfilled—through the first worship services in Hawaii and California led by Brother Eraño Manalo—the Church is, as of publishing this writing online, in 158 countries and territories all over the world. As its membership keeps on increasing, more ministers have been ordained, more Church officers have been added, and more houses of worship have been constructed year after year.
This steady rise of the Church to further victories illuminates the truth that Brother Felix Manalo is indeed the fulfillment of the prophesied angel or messenger from the east in Revelation 7:2–3. In that prophecy, the messenger and his co-workers in sealing God’s servants are described as “ascending” (moving onward to greater heights) and “with a loud voice” (with great power and might). Such analogies—which are fitting descriptions to the continuing upward climb of the Church’s progress—are also what a nonmember-author wrote about the same biblical prophecy:
“The ‘Angel Ascending From the East, Having the Seal’. The word ‘angel’, used symbolically in the revelation, means ‘messenger’ or ‘message’. This angel or message carries the seal of the living God.
“Some translations read, ‘ascending from the sunrising’. This is a truer translation. It appears that the manner, rather than the locality, is emphasized. As the sun arises with its rays at first oblique and comparatively powerless, but increases in strength and glory until it reaches its zenith, so the work of this angel or message moves onward with ever-increasing influence until its work closes in strength and power, the whole earth being ‘lightened with his glory’. Revelation 18:1.” (Unfolding the Revelation, p. 76)
An irreversibƖe work of God
The Church Of Christ in these last days will never turn away from Him but will continue spreading the true gospel of salvation to all the world. For, no less than God Himself declared that this Church is His handiwork and its success, irreversible:
“Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; 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 … Indeed before the day was, I am He; And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it?” (Isa. 43:5–6, 13 NKJV)
Thus, it’s no surprise that even outsiders see even brighter prospects for the Church in the future. An associate professor of Intercultural Studies for the Asia Graduate School Of Theology wrote:
“The Iglesia ni Cristo is a New Religious Movement which started as a small seed in Manila, Philippines, and has grown to become an international movement with branches throughout the world. … The future of the Church seems secure as it works to keep newer generations of children actively involved and reaches out to attract new converts. It is unlikely to fade into obscurity.” (Understanding the Iglesia ni Cristo: What They Really Believe and How They Can Be Reached, pp. 15, 30–31)
For the salvation of God’s people
But the greatest victory which God promised to this Church is salvation on Judgment Day. It is to this end that the Executive Minister—from past to present—has labored so much for the Church. As the one whom God entrusted with His administration of the Church today, Brother Eduardo Manalo is all the more determined and dedicated to lead God’s people in these last days toward spiritual maturity and perfection, as did his predecessors who also took inspiration from these words of Apostle Paul:
“I have become its minister, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known, … warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.” (Col. 1:25, 28–29 Holman Christian Standard Bible)
This article was originally published in the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine, September 2017 issue, and has been updated.