God regards the fruit of the work of the messenger from the Far East as His sons and daughters. This priceless recognition from God Himself cannot be impostured or faked.
TODAY, MORE THAN ever, the world teems with religions of all sorts. So-called Christendom abounds with churches and movements that claim to have deep faith in Christ.
However, claiming to be in the truth and actually being in the truth are two different matters. Any claim must be biblically substantiated and vouched; otherwise, it cannot be relied upon. The fact is, only one among the various claimants could be the true one.
Truth and salvation
What made the first-century believers sure of their faith? On what was such assurance anchored? John, the beloved apostle of the Lord, speaks, thus:
“And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” (I John 3:19 King James Version)
In certain terms, Apostle John assured the hearts of the Christians of old that they were of the truth. But, of course, people today could easily say: “We, too, are in the truth!” in fact, no preacher or adherent of an organized religion would say the opposite—that his church is laden with lies. But why were the members of the first-century Church Of Christ certain of the truth? From whom did they hear what they taught? In verse 3 of the second chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, this is explained, thus:
“The Lord himself first announced this salvation, and those who heard him proved to us that it is true.” (Good News Bible)
The apostles testified that the Lord Jesus Christ was the one who announced the truth about salvation. The Lord Himself assured the Christians of the promised salvation.
Salvation and the Church Of Christ
What is the truth about salvation as taught by Christ? Who, according to Christ, shall be saved? In John 10:7 and 9, this is stated, thus:
“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. …” (Revised English Bible)
Our Lord Jesus Christ declared that he who comes into the fold will be safe. This is the truth regarding salvation. But, which is the fold or flock that people must join? Acts 20:28 records, thus:
“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Lamsa Translation)
The flock which man must join is the Church Of Christ. It is the beneficiary of the shed blood of Christ. Therefore, it is the Church Of Christ (or Iglesia Ni Cristo in Filipino) that Christ will save. This is the truth that the apostles heard from the Savior and that which they in turn taught the early Christians.
And it is well to note that the apostles did not have to worry about other churches then, as the true Church Of Christ then could easily be recognized.
Deep secret truth revealed
What manner of truth was preached by the apostles concerning the relationship of Christ and His Church? In Ephesians 5:32, Apostle Paul taught, thus:
“There is a deep secret truth revealed in this scripture, which I understand as applying to Christ and the church.” (gnb)
The verse speaks about a deep secret truth revealed in the Scripture which portrayed the relationship of a man and his wife (Eph. 5:31). it is a biblical truth that the husband-wife union is divinely sanctioned and that this truth is not only confined to married couples. As Apostle Paul concluded, this applies to Christ and His Church! As the husband and wife are no longer two but one, Christ and His Church are likewise divinely united. As such, to reject the Church Of Christ would mean to reject Christ.
Ironically, though, many people fail to recognize this truth. A lot of people in fact disregard the Church Of Christ. Nonetheless, this is not surprising for such attitude is only reflective of people who are neither of Christ nor of God. They do not recognize the value of the Church which was purchased with Christ’s blood as willed by God.
In the first century, the early Christians upheld the value and the truth about the Church Of Christ; in these last days, members of the
Iglesia Ni Cristo do the same.
The strength of election
Why are the members of the Church Of Christ in these last days sure of being God’s people? On what is the strength of their election based? Even before the onset of the Christian era, God had already proclaimed about this through His prophets, thus:
“Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” (Isa. 46:11 Revised Standard Version)
What God has spoken, He will bring to pass. What He has purposed, He will do. God prophesied about a bird of prey from the east who is actually a man from a far country, hence, the man who is prophesied as a bird of prey shall come from only one direction—the far east. How was this prophecy fulfilled? This was fulfilled when, from the Philippines, a country in the Far East, Brother Felix Y. Manalo started God’s mission in 1914. Through the instrumentality of this messenger, the Iglesia Ni Cristo or Church Of Christ reemerged on earth as prophesied by God.
Why did God give His assurance to do and bring to pass what He has spoken and purposed? What does He want people to know? In the epistle to the Hebrews this is written, thus:
“Men indeed swear by a greater than themselves, and all in their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desires to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us.” (Heb. 6:16–18 rsv)
It is impossible that God should prove false, the Bible says. That is why interposed His promise with an oath to show more convincingly the unchangeable character of His purpose. Indeed, what God had purposed, He brought to pass. The Church Of Christ emerged at God’s appointed time and place.
Now, how does God regard the members of the Church Of Christ in these last days? How does God consider the fruit of the preaching function of the duly commissioned messenger from the far east? From another prophecy in the Bible, this is documented, thus:
“Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” (Isa. 43:5–6 kjv)
God regards the fruit of the work of the messenger from the far east as His sons and daughters. This priceless recognition from God Himself cannot be impostured or faked.
Heirs to the promise
How valuable is it to be counted as God’s sons and daughters? What is in store for God’s children? Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, thus:
“It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom. 8:16–17 rsv)
God’s children are heirs to His promises. They are fellow heirs with Christ. Hence, since the members of the Church Of Christ in these last days are recognized by God as His sons and daughters, then they, too, are heirs to God’s promises.
What shall God’s chosen people inherit? In the opening statement of Paul’s letter to Titus, a co-worker in the first-century Church, the following is recorded, thus:
“From Paul, servant of God and apostle of Jesus Christ, marked as such by the faith of God’s chosen people and the knowledge of the truth enshrined in our religion with its hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised long ages ago.”
(Titus 1:1–2 reb)
The chosen shall inherit the promised eternal life. They shall enjoy the bliss of eternity that God, who does not lie, promised long ages ago. Where shall they enjoy eternal life and what kind or manner of life shall it be? While in exile at the isle of Patmos, Apostle John, moved by the Spirit, wrote what he saw in a vision, thus:
“I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had vanished, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice proclaiming from the throne: ‘Now God has his dwelling with mankind! He will dwell among them and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall be an end to death, and to mourning and crying and pain, for the old order has passed away!’” (Rev. 21:1–4 reb)
Fortunate indeed are the members of the Church Of Christ who are God’s elect of chosen people in these last days, for they shall dwell forever in the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, where death is no more!
This article was originally published in the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine.