When we recount the victories that God has blessed the Church with, we do so not for self-gratification but for the glorification of God Who made them possible.
ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS in the Church Of Christ are held with heartfelt thanksgiving to God for all the successes and achievements He has been blessing it with. On top of all other commemorative activities, the members all over the world gather together in a thanksgiving worship service to proclaim His praises and bring with them their thank-offerings to glorify Him.
In commemorating the 109th anniversary of the Church this year, we recount the many triumphs of the Church in its various fields of endeavor for the year that has passed. We share our joy not just with our brethren but also with people of other faiths. In this age of social media, the brethren’s happiness over such blessings reverberates throughout cyberspace for millions of netizens to see, hear, and read about.
Expectedly, detractors of the Church disapprove of this. Some accuse us of being self-serving when we explicitly express the wonderful accomplishments of the Church, and many go as far as undermining the Church’s triumphant contributions to society. Such criticisms, though, do not hamper the grateful spirit of the brethren, for while others may think of it wrongly, the truth remains:
“It is a good and delightful thing to give thanks to the Lord, To sing praises to Your name, O Most High.” (Ps. 92:1 Amplified Bible 2015)
Not for self, but for God
When we recount the victories that God has blessed the Church with, we do so not for self-gratification but for the glorification of God Who made them possible:
“For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your works; At the works of Your hands I joyfully sing. How great are Your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep [beyond man’s understanding].” (Ps. 92:4–5 AMP2015)
Indeed, so deep are God’s thoughts and ways that they are beyond man’s understanding, which is why there will always be those who will look at His blessings to His people with envy and disdain. For, “A senseless man [in his crude and uncultivated state] knows nothing, Nor does a [self-righteous] fool understand this” (Ps. 92:6 AMP2015). We cannot avoid encountering such haters and detractors—“My eye has looked on my foes; My ears hear of the evildoers who rise up against me” (Ps. 92:11 AMP2015)—but we face them with confidence in our hope in God’s promise to the people He counts righteous in His sight—“The righteous will flourish like the date palm [long-lived, upright and useful]; They will grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic and stable]” (Ps. 92:12 AMP2015). The ones whom God counts as righteous are those sanctified and put right with Him by our Lord Jesus Christ—the members of the Church Of Christ which the Savior redeemed with His blood (I Cor. 6:11 Good News Bible; Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation).
Instead of minding the criticisms and the rumors that our detractors spread, we carry on and all the more glorify God because He has filled His nation in these last days. It is not about us, really. It is about God Who is the true Upholder and Defender of this work begun by His Messenger and continued by the Executive Ministers who have succeeded him in leading this Church. The increasing number of houses of worship built, local congregations and ecclesiastical districts established, men ordained in the ministry, and the other growth statistics of the Church are all but a testimony to God’s mercy and lovingkindness to His elect, His chosen people. “[They are living memorials] to declare that the Lord is upright and faithful [to His promises]; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (Ps. 92:15 AMP2015).
The specific promises
We commemorate the Church’s establishment on July 27, 1914 not merely to count the age of its existence in our time but more profoundly to remember the fulfillment of God’s prophecy in the Bible that testify to our divine calling and election.
In Isaiah 41:9–14, God spoke of His chosen people who would come from the “ends of the earth”—a time reference for the pre-Judgment Day era that would start with World War I. The prophesied place of origin of God’s elect from the end times is stated in the phrase “called from farthest corners [of the earth]”, which in related verses point to “distant east” or “far east” (Isa. 43:5 GNB; Moffatt Translation). Thus, it happened that 109 years ago, the Iglesia Ni Cristo emerged and was registered in the Philippines (an archipelago in the Far East) on July 27, 1914 (concurrent with the outbreak of World War I).
Also specified in the same prophecy in Isaiah 41 are the promises of God to this Church. Among these promises is God’s declaration, “I have chosen you and have not cast you off”—similar to Isaiah 62:11–12 stating with finality that this is God’s unforsaken nation and it will not apostatize as did the first-century Church. Moreover, God made a promise to strengthen, help, and uphold this Church with His victorious right hand—a promise that is being kept to this very day, which explains why the Church continues to flourish in all aspects of its religious life despite all the hurdles, odds, and obstacles.
Humbled and awed by God’s wondrous works for the Church, the faithful worldwide echo what the Psalmist once proclaimed:
“The LORD will fulfill that which concerns me. Your loving kindness, LORD, endures forever. Don’t forsake the works of your own hands. … I will bow down toward your holy temple, and give thanks to your Name for your loving kindness and for your truth; for you have exalted your Name and your Word above all.” (Ps. 138:8, 2 World Messianic Bible)
Thankfully re-affirming our stand
In commemorating its anniversary, as the Church Of Christ sincerely thanks God for the victories He has been granting it through our Lord Jesus Christ, the members once again affirm their stand to remain solid in the faith, in keeping with the timeless reminder of the apostles not to let anyone “move you off the foundation of your faith” but to “always excel in the work you do for the Lord” because “the hard work you do for the Lord is not pointless” (I Cor. 15:57–58 Names Of God Version).
To remain unmoved and unshaken in our faith, each Church member ought to heed the constant call for unity which administrators of the Church, such as Apostle Paul, exhort all the brethren to do:
“Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention. Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others. Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility].” (Phil. 2:2–5 Amplified Bible)
Tests and trials in life will still worsen, but none of those will ruin the faith of the true members of the Church Of Christ in these last days. Instead of pushing them away from God, such troubles will only draw them closer to Him who made this truthful promise to them:
“When my people in their need look for water, when their throats are dry with thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer their prayer; I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them. I will make rivers flow among barren hills and springs of water run in the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water and the dry land into flowing springs.” (Isa. 41:17–18 GNB)
This article was originally published in the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine and has been updated.