The members of the Church Of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo) are ever thankful to the Almighty God for His constant blessings and guidance to the Church Administration, currently under the leadership of the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo.
The Church Administration has the essential role of leading God’s people to spiritual maturity and salvation. Paramount to this is the important task of proclaiming God’s message of salvation. As Apostle Paul, who administered the first-century Church in the Gentile regions, said:
“I have become its servant, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known.” (Col. 1:25 Holman Christian Standard Bible)
“Which is the secret he hid through all past ages from all human beings but has now revealed to his people … So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ.” (Col. 1:26, 28 Today’s English Version)
Both the message and the messenger or the minister tasked to administer and preach God’s words are essential to God’s plan of salvation for mankind. This is God’s express will.
Another proof of the significance of those entrusted by God to administer the Church, especially in the revelation of God’s truth, was pronounced by the Lord Jesus Christ in Mark 4:10-12:
“When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that “they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven”.’” (New Revised Standard Version)
The “twelve” the verses are referring to were apostles of Christ. To them and to their fellow ministers and messengers, like Apostle Paul, were entrusted the understanding and the right to reveal the secret of God’s kingdom. Receiving them and the message they convey is very important for it means receiving the Lord Jesus Christ and the Lord God Themselves, and the pure gospel. Jesus emphasized this in John 13:20:
“Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” (NRSV)
On the contrary, those who reject the messengers and leaders of the true Church are rejecting the Father and Jesus who sent them (Luke 10:16). God will condemn those who reject Him and His Son Jesus because of their refusal to accept and recognize the authority of the Church Administration whom He appointed to lead His chosen people.
The mission and function of the Church Administration
In fulfilling their mission and function, those who administer the Church Of Christ are ready and willing to make sacrifices for the Church’s welfare:
“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God.” (Col. 1:24–25 New King James Version)
These are the very qualities of those placed by God to lead the Church—they are ready to suffer everything for the sake of the Church. This same spirit was exemplified by Brother Felix Y. Manalo and Brother Eraño G. Manalo during their time as stewards of the Church, and now by the present Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo. Brother Felix Manalo and Brother Eraño Manalo led and administered the Church with love, diligence, and full commitment, unmindful of the numerous hardships they had to face, and so does Brother Eduardo Manalo.
What is the mission of the Church Administration for which they are willing to sacrifice for its great importance? Apostle Paul wrote:
“As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” (I Thess. 2:11–12 NRSV)
The mission of the Church Administration is essentially to encourage the brethren to lead a life worthy of God’s kingdom and glory. This is in consonance with God’s mission of leading all people to salvation by allowing them to know His truth. This mission can be fulfilled if people are reconciled to God. The Church Administration is empowered by God to administer this reconciliation because the ministry and the message of reconciliation are entrusted to them. As such, they are also to function as ambassadors for Christ. This is manifested in the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians:
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (II Cor. 5:18–20 NRSV)
However, the completion of this process of reconciliation hinges on how Christians respond to the preaching and exhortation of the Church Administration. Consider how Apostle Paul counseled the Christians in Thessalonica:
“Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You are doing this already, and we encourage you to do so more and more. For you remember what we taught you in the name of the Lord Jesus.
“God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. But I don’t need to write to you about the Christian love that should be shown among God’s people. For God himself has taught you to love one another.” (I Thess. 4:1–2, 7–9 New Living Translation 1996)
This pronouncement of Apostle Paul clearly emphasizes not just the function but also the importance of the Church Administration. Anyone who refuses to live by the rules that they preach to the Church is rejecting God.
The responsibility of the members to the Church Administration
In view of this, how must members of the Church Of Christ recognize the Administration appointed by God to lead the Church? The apostles gave the following instruction to all Christians:
“Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and warn you against all that is wrong. Think highly of them and give them your wholehearted love because of their work …” (I Thess. 5:12–13 NLT 1996)
The true Christians ought to give honor and respect to the leaders God placed in the Church because their tasks are extremely delicate. Church members must think highly of their leaders and give them wholehearted support and unconditional love. How can love and respect for the Church Administration be proven? Again, Apostle Paul taught about the responsibility of Christians towards their spiritual leaders:
“Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” (Heb. 13:17 NLT 1996)
Obedience and submission to the Church Administration will be good not only for the Church in general but also for the individual members in particular. Note that Apostle Paul wrote the importance of obeying the instructions of those who watch over the members of the true Church. Giving the leaders reason to do their duties joyfully and not with sorrow is beneficial to the members. The opposite will occur to those who, instead of obeying the Church leaders, oppose and speak against them.
Another very compelling reason we must abide by the decisions of the Church Administration is their overwhelming love and concern for the whole Church and for every Christian. The goal and dream of God’s chosen leaders for His nation is crystal-clear to them. In Isaiah 62:1, we can read a very emphatic pronouncement of a leader’s divine aspiration for the chosen people of God:
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.” (NRSV)
Since the work of the Church Administration has great significance on the salvation of the members, it is only right and proper for all brethren in the Church Of Christ to give their utmost love and respect to the Church Administration, especially to the one God placed to shepherd His people in our time, Brother Eduardo Manalo. We must promise God that we will always unite with the Administration He placed in the Church and live in accordance with His commandments, that we may remain righteous and holy in His sight and thus be led to spiritual maturity and salvation.