Monday, February 27, 2012

Salvation by Grace Through Faith in Christ

This is a sequel to my article “Salvation By Faith Plus Works?” published in our February 11, 2012 issue. This has been a controversial and confusing issue among Christians in the first century up to this 21st century. Hence, I thought it appropriate to share my research on this very important topic in every believer’s life and ministry. My “belief” or “theology” if I may call it that way, is based principally from my learning in Bible school and my own research, principally from the New Living Translation (NLT) also known as the Life Application Bible, and from other translations of the Holy Bible. The Commentaries of the NLT on Galatians (Gal.) Chapter 2 and 3 are instructive and enlightening on the topic “Salvation By Faith”.

The New Living Translation (NLT) is the work of ninety Bible evangelical scholars from various theological background and denominations who were commissioned in 1989 to revise the Living Bible (LB). They worked for seven years resulting to this NLT “a general purpose translation that is accurate, easy to read, and excellent for study” (the Publishers of NLT, July 1996). Salvation by following the law of Moses [613 including the 10 commandments] or salvation based on the law and good works is the theology of the Jews which has been the influence of the Greeks. They were called the Judaizers.

Who are the Judaizers? This is what the NLT Commentators said:

Gal. “3:2, 3 Some of the believers in Galatia may have been in Jerusalem at Pentecost and received the Holy Spirit there. They knew that they hadn’t received God’s Spirit by obeying the Jewish laws. Paul stressed that just as they began their Christian lives in the power of the Spirit, so they should grow by the Spirit’s power. The Galatians had taken a step backward when they had decided to insist on keeping the Jewish laws. We must realize that we grow spiritually because of God’s work in us by his Spirit, not by following special rules.”

x x x x x x x x x

2:11 The Judaizers accused Paul of watering down the Good News to make it easier for Gentiles to accept, while Paul accused the Judaizers of nullifying the truth of the Good News by adding conditions to it. The basis of salvation was the issue: Is salvation through Christ alone, or does it come through Christ and adherence to the law? The argument came to a climax when Peter, Paul, the Judaizers, and some Gentile Christians all gathered together in Antioch in Syria [recent day Turkey as distinguished from Antioch in Pisidia] to share a meal. Peter probably thought that by staying away from the Gentiles, he was promoting harmony – he did not want to offend James and the Jewish Christians. James had a very prominent position and presided over the Jerusalem council (Acts. 15). But Paul charged that Peter’s action violated the Good News. By joining the Judaizers, Peter implicitly was supporting their claim that Christ was not sufficient for salvation. Compromise is an important element in getting along with others, but we should never compromise the truth of God’s Word. If we feel we have to change our Christian beliefs to match those of our companions, we are on dangerous ground.

2:11, 12 Although Peter was a leader of the church, he was acting like a hypocrite. He knew better, yet he was driven by fear of what James and the others would think. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap.” Paul knew that he had to confront Peter before his actions damaged the church. So, Paul publicly opposed Peter. Note, however, that Paul did not go to the other leaders, nor did he write letters to the churches telling them not to follow Peter’s example. Instead, he opposed Peter face to face. Sometimes sincere Christians, even Christian leaders, make mistakes. And it may take other sincere Christians to get them back on track. If you are convinced that someone is doing harm to himself/herself or the church, try the direct approach. There is no place for back-stabbing in the body of Christ.

2:15.16 If observing the Jewish laws cannot justify us, why should we still obey the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament laws? We know that Paul was not saying the law is bad, because in another letter he wrote, “The law itself is holy and right and good” (Romans 7:12). Instead, he is saying that the law can never make us acceptable to God. The law still has an important role to play in the life of a Christian. The law (1) guards us from sin by giving us standards for behavior; (2) convicts us of sin, leaving us the opportunity to ask for God’s forgiveness; and (3) drives us to trust in the sufficiency of Christ, because we can never keep the Ten Commandments perfectly. The law cannot possibly save us. But after we become Christians, it can guide us to live as God requires.

2:17-19 Through studying the Old Testament Scriptures, Paul realized that he could not be saved by obeying God’s laws. The prophets knew that God’s plan of salvation did not rest on keeping the law. Because we have all been infected by sin, we cannot keep God’s laws perfectly. Fortunately, God has provided a way of salvation that depends on Jesus Christ, not on our own efforts. Even though we know this truth, we must guard against the temptation of using service, good deeds, charitable giving, or any other effort as a substitute for faith.

2:19, 20 How have we been crucified with Christ? Legally, God looks at us as if we had died with Christ. Because our sins died with him, we are no longer condemned (Colossians 2:13-15). Relationally, we have become one with Christ, and his experiences are ours. Our Christian life began when, in unity with him, we died to our old life (see Romans 6:5-11). In our daily life, we must regularly crucify sinful desires that keep us from following Christ. This, too, is a kind of dying with him (Luke 9:23-25).

And yet the focus of Christianity is not dying but living. Because we have been crucified with Christ, we have also been raised with him (Romans 6:5). Legally, we have been reconciled with God (2 Corinthians 5:19) and are free to grow into Christ’s likeness (Romans 8:29). And in our daily life, we have Christ’s resurrection power as we continue to fight sin (Ephesians 1:19, 20). We are no longer alone, for Christ lives in us – he is our power for living and our hope for the future (Colossians 1:27).

2:21 Believers today may still be in danger of acting as if Christ died for nothing. How? By replacing Jewish legalism with their own brand of Christian legalism, they are giving people extra laws to obey. By believing they can earn God’s favor by what they do, they are not trusting completely in Christ’s work on the cross. By struggling to appropriate God’s power to change them (sanctification), they are not resting in God’s power to save them (justification). If we could be saved by being good, then Christ would not have had to die. But the cross is the only way to salvation” (underscoring supplied).

I stress that the foregoing comments and ideas are not mine but are quotations from the NLT, for whatever worth it will serve the readers.

Some well-meaning believers like the Judaizers, believe that salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone is too easy and simple. They say that salvation is not that easy or simple. They add good works to faith, which is the opposite of faith evidenced by good works. Or that they have to do good works to make up for their sins in order that they will be saved. Precisely, God made salvation easy through the sacrifice in the cross of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, because of his love for man. God wants that if possible no one will perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9 KJV).

Do we follow the Judaizer’s theology or that of the Apostle Paul? The choice is ours. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, Feb 25, 2012)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Highest Goal

A lawyer tested the Lord Jesus Christ saying, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus quoting from the Old Testament (Deut. 6:5) said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:35-40 KJV).

But what is love?

Love is an emotion that defies description in words, something that causes us to move into action to do something good.

God (Jesus Christ) commands us to love God first and, second, to love our neighbor as ourselves.

In the end, this really means that we should love everybody, even our enemies. Indeed, Jesus Christ said, “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28 KJV).

Why did Jesus say, “love your enemies?” Because in those days, the Jewish people hate the Romans - - their conqueror. However, with the passage of time, some Romans, one of significant influence and power being Emperor Constantine, was Christianized. He decreed that the official religion of the Roman Empire was Christianity. Hence, was born the Roman Catholic Church or what we call Catolico Romano. These Romans learned to love the Christians and vice versa.

Jewish and non-Jewish (or Gentiles) are all God’s children through Faith in Jesus Christ. “So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians - - you are one in Christ Jesus and now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and now all the promises God gave to him belong to you” (Galatians 3:26-29 NLT). When the Old Testament was written, the Roman Empire was not yet in power. So, there were no Roman Catholics, no protestants and the numerous religions denominations that exist today. It was only during New Testament times that believers of God and His Son Jesus Christ designated themselves by their denominational names. But their common denomination is CHRIST. Meaning, all believe in Christ as the only begotten Son of God. Those religions who have other beliefs are called, Anti-Christ. But whether, Jewish or Greeks or Gentiles, Romans or not, whatever be their nationality, what is important is they believe in Christ as the Son of God. These are all Christians, the heirs of Abraham.

We have also our enemies. The prophet Micah said, “a man’s enemy are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:6). That is why some married couple end up in divorce. They simply can’t love their closest neighbor. When it should be the other way around. The wife should be the best friend of the husband. The trouble with some husbands is that they have other or many best friends which converts their spouse into their worst enemy, thus ending in divorce, or it is the other way around: the wife has other best friends also. For as long as we live, we will have enemies. Plenty of them. Let us learn from David when in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of King Saul. He said: “I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from my enemies” (Ps. 18:1-3 KJV). David continued: “He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me…; he delivered me, because he delighted in me (vs. 17, 19) he delivered me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man” (vs. 48 KJV). In one sentence, LOVE the LORD as he commands, then He will deliver us from all our enemies. He is stronger than our strongest enemy. If we love the LORD as he commanded, and our neighbor as ourselves, we can overcome all our enemies, including our enemies in our own house! David said, “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at the right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11 KJV).

A command has to be followed whether we like it or not. Failure or refusal to do so is disobedience with consequential penalty.

Micha’s prophetic statement “a man’s enemy are the men of his own house has been paraphrased by our Lord Jesus during New Testament times in this manner: “And a man’s foes shall be them of his own household” (Matt. 10:36 KJV). In our modern way of saying things, this is how Micah conveyed his prophetic message: “Don’t trust anyone - - not your best friend or even your wife! For the son despises his father. The daughter defies her mother. The daughter-in-law defies her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household” (Micah 7:5-6 NLT). I personally believe that the word “household” is to be understood in its generic meaning, not only literal. So, it may mean in your own group or organization. Because who else knows your secret but the one who knows you very well? Who knows us very well? Our best friend, of course.

In government or politics, Gov. Chavit Singson testified against Pres. Erap Estrada, his close friend. Speaker De Venecia a close friend for a while of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during her Administration, offered to testify against the latter, and this goes on in our government today!

Kinds of Love
Its Characteristics
1. EROS – sexual love
2. FELEO – family love
3. ASTERGO – responsive love
4. NARCISUS – self-centered love
5.PHILOS – brotherly love
a) Love described in 1 to 5 says: “I love you if” (kung)
b) “I love you because” (sapagkat)
6. AGAPE – Divine or God's love (eternal love)
c) This kind of love says “I love you in spite of” (kahit na). Agape love is the highest and ultimate form of love. It is Christlike – expecting nothing in return

Agape is a kind of love that is willing to die, so the love one will live and be saved. No one has this kind of love, only God (Jesus Christ) has it and he voluntarily (without being asked) gave it by shedding his precious blood. This blood covers the sin of all believers.

John the beloved, the Apostle of Love, defines Love demonstratively. He assumes this feeling or emotion by saying, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV). And John continues by saying: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). How did God manifest his love for man? John continued: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (complete payment) for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11 KJV).

The Apostle Paul uses the word “charity” in his attempt to define love in 1 Cor. 13, the love chapter of the New Testament. Why charity? Because charity is giving something “without expecting anything in return”. That is why we have charitable institutions who extend help to the needy. These institutions don’t expect anything in return. Their giving is an ultimate act of love. This is where we got the expression “labor of love”, meaning we do something good for someone without expecting to be rewarded or repaid. However, the Lord Jesus decreed a reciprocal law that when we “give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom” (Luke 6:38 KJV).

Paul, a lawyer, prolific writer of thirteen books of the New Testament, almost half of the total 27 books of the NT, and a pharisee in his time, in defining LOVE used ACTION words, like: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up (or surrenders no matter what happens), never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever… (1 Cor. 13:4-8 NLT). “And now abideth faith, hope charity (Love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity (Love)”. (vs. 13 KJV).

Paul continues in Chapter 14 “Let love be your highest goal” (vs. 1, NLT). In the KJV, “Follow after charity (Love)”. In the NIV, “Follow the way of love . . .”. In the New King James version (NKJ), it says, “pursue love” which is a command for every believer. Those who experienced pursuing love in their dealings have felt unspeakable joy in their heart.

Yes, we can respond obediently to what our Saviour directs us to do. He knows, though, that we are not capable of doing this on our own. That’s why He has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to a life of loving obedience. With His help, we can learn to love those we don’t like.

Love is the greatest of all human virtues and qualities, and it is an attribute of God himself (1 John 4:8). Give love, receive love, give it away. If we give love, we shall receive love and something more “in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” from God through men like us. The ultimate reward from God, if we truly love God and our neighbor as ourselves is the experience of unspeakable joy in our heart, and most important of all, eternal life and abode with God in heaven. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin Feb 18, 2012)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Salvation by Faith Plus Works?

By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9 KJV). To some religious people, they add to this what Paul said, “… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12 KJV).

The confusion is that while the great Apostle Paul himself said, “we are saved by grace… not by works… yet, on the other hand, he also said, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. Indeed, this is confusing. Which is which: we are saved by grace through faith alone, or do we have in addition to “work out our own salvation”?

This is how the Apologitics Study Bible explains this doctrine:

Faith is the means by which people acquire salvation: It is “through faith”. Salvation by grace through faith comes as God’s gift, not by works (Eph. 2:8-9). While good works cannot merit right standing with God, good works are the fruit borne in the lives of those whom God has saved. Good works are neither afterthought nor optional in the lives of believers. God created and saved them for the very purpose of doing good works” (2:10).

To my personal understanding, a saved person necessarily does a work - - any work for that matter, big or small, significant or insignificant, basta work for the kingdom of God. In short, the work of a believer is the result or fruit of his salvation. By the way, there is no insignificant work in the kingdom of God. Every work or ministry in the kingdom is important. The believer’s work is the concrete evidence (or seen by the eyes) of his faith in God. Thus, James says, “Even so faith, if it has not works is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou has faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17-18). Stated differently, faith in God (or Jesus Christ) is shown or evidenced by works. Such people do good works out of gratitude and love for God. These are called “labor of love”, without expecting any reward in money or anything in return.

For example, a believer starts a Bible study group without being paid anything, not even a snack. He prepares a written computerized summary of his lessons. This means that he exerts much effort in his work for the kingdom of God. He spends valuable time, his money and effort without being remunerated or expecting any material return. And he finds joy in his labor of love. His work is evidence of his faith in God. His labor of love is the fruit or result of his salvation through his faith in God.

Stated otherwise, someone with religion or one who is devotedly pious may believe in God, attend church, say prayers, show kindness, and be seen as a good person. Religious people may have many good qualities, but sad to say, religion or good works cannot and is never a substitute for faith in Jesus Christ. The only way to the Father in heaven is through faith in Jesus (John 14:6). No more, no less. John did not say, through faith and in addition good work. Once saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the one saved will necessarily do a work for the kingdom of God. This work or deed for the kingdom, though how big or small, significant or insignificant, if we may call it, shall be rewarded by Jesus Christ on his second coming for the believer. Thus, Rev. 22:12 says, “See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds”. Notably, we are not to add or take away from the Words of the Bible. Thus the Bible says, “Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you from the Lord your God. Just obey them” (Deut. 4:2 NLT) Then Moses added: “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it” (Deut. 12:32 KJV). The Apostle John warned:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book. If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18-19 KJV)

People with faith put their trust in Jesus for forgiveness of sin and salvation of their soul. They have assurance of entrance into heaven and seek to become more like Jesus each day. They are christlike in manner and deeds. The apostle Paul said that the way of salvation is by grace through faith. It’s not of works but is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9).

Harmonizing the seemingly contradictory verses quoted above, let us turn to the Life Application Study Bible referred to as the New Living Translation (NLT) which is clearer to the modern man. This is how it expresses Eph. 2:8-10:

God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Emphasis supplied)

It’s commentary on the aforequoted verses is easier to understand and instructive. It comments:

When someone gives you a gift, do you say, “That’s very nice – now how much do I owe you?” No, the appropriate response to a gift is “Thank you”. Yet how often Christians, even after they have been given the gift of salvation feel obligated to try to work their way to God. Because our salvation and even our faith are gifts, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and joy.

We become Christians through God’s unmerited favor (grace), not as the result of any effort, ability, intelligent choice, or act of service on our part. However, out of gratitude for this free gift, we will seek to help and serve others with kindness, love, and gentleness, and not merely to please ourselves. While no action or work we do can help us obtain salvation, God’s intention is that our salvation will result in acts of service. We are not saved merely for our own benefit but to serve Christ and build up the church (4:12).” (Emphasis supplied)

Some well-meaning followers (or disciples) of Christ believe that good works in addition to their faith or being religious will earn them their salvation. This will make salvation no longer a gift (by grace) but a reward for good works, not by faith in the saving power of the precious blood of Jesus Christ which was poured out for his love to the believers (Heb. 9:22). God in his wisdom does not require work in addition to faith, because some people who have the faith but by reason of some physical hindrance or infirmities may not be able to serve. This is to equalize or level the playing field. Kasi kung hindi ganon, kawawa naman tayong hindi kagaya ni Billy Graham o kagaya ni Pat Robertson. Those who could not read and write will be left behind, although by hearing the Word of God and believing, they have faith in God. For example, look at the disciple Andrew. He never authored any book in the Bible. His faith in Jesus which is evidenced by his introducing Peter to Jesus was enough to earn him a place in the kingdom of God!

God has given us wisdom, and if we pray fervently for divine guidance on what is right (James 1:5), the Holy Spirit whose main ministry is to guide us in all truth (John 16:13) will cause our mind, heart and spirit to know the truth about this apparent biblical confusion. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin Feb 11, 2012)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What Money Cannot Buy

Out of thirty-six (36) parables of the Lord Jesus Christ, eighteen (18) of them or one-half, concern money. Someone was able to count two thousand (2,000) verses in the Bible on money. This is how the Lord Jesus regard the importance of money. Indeed, money is an essential part of man’s existence. Without it, man could not secure the necessities of life.

One of the most difficult bar examinations for lawyers from the time of President Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña in 1910 was given in 1962. In that year, many examinees burned their books and notes in the quadrangle of the University of the East in Manila, then the venue for bar exams, in protest of the fact that about 95% of the answer to the questions in International Law were not found in our books or notes.

Sometime in middle 60’s, I enrolled at the UP extension Master of Laws course in Davao City. On our first meeting, Professor Bienvenido Ambion asked: “Who among you here took the 1962 bar?” There were four of us who proudly raised our hands, namely: the late Davao City Judge Narciso M. Bumanlag, former Constitutional Convention delegate and RTC Judge Doming Carillo, former Reg. XI Civil Service Director Felimon Cawad, and myself. The professor said, “You will notice that the subject of our course are those asked in International Law bar exam by retired UP Dean Cinco”. Everybody laughed. Then, he continued, “It was rumored, he wanted only five to pass the bar”. We laughed some more and louder.

The rule promulgated by the Supreme Court is that anyone obtaining a grade less than 50 in any of the 10 bar subjects though his general average is passing, shall nevertheless get a FAILING mark.

The 1962 bar exam on International Law was so unreasonably difficult that many got a grade less than 50. Judge Doming Carillo confided to me that he got only 49%, but he passed the bar! Consequently, the Supreme Court suspended the application of its less than 50% grade, yet of 3,600 examinees, only about 600 passed, or only 19%. Many are ambitious to become lawyers! In our school, out of 17 examinees only one passed. Father (Atty.) Joaquin Bernas who has become an author of, and authority in, Constitutional Law, and often consulted by our Supreme Court on difficult Constitutional issues these days, then the best bet of Ateneo de Manila University who was rumored and predicted to top the bar because of his extraordinary brilliance, placed only No. 10 with an actual grade of 79%. He was bested by Deogracias Eufemio of UP who got an actual grade of 85%. Retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, the classmate of Eufemio, took the same bar exam, although he graduated cum laude and who was No. 1 among all 35 different nation-scholars when he took his post graduate study abroad, failed to land on the top ten. About two years ago just before his retirement, I had the privilege to introduce him as our Dinner Fellowship main sharer here at Grand Men Seng Hotel. Curious about his biodata, because nothing is mentioned about when he passed the bar, I asked him if he took the 1962 bar exam and his reply was: “Did you also take that bar exam? . . . it was very difficult”. Indeed, he is very brilliant because he was one step ahead: he perceived my unspoken point.

Sometime in the middle of the 60’s, there was a scandal about 17 bar examinees who were allegedly brought to a hotel room and were allowed allegedly to copy the prepared answers to the bar questions. What else is the inevitable conclusion but that they used money to buy their ambition to become lawyers. One of them who failed on his first try the previous year, placed among the top 10 on his second try. This precipitated an investigation by the Supreme Court through the NBI. Sixteen of them, though they got passing grades, were criminally charged in court and never allowed to take oath as lawyers. Also criminally charged were the responsible Supreme Court personnel. To this day, the scandal was no longer repeated.

The one who placed in the top ten, was escorted to the NBI for investigation by a top Davao lawyer in his time for which purpose alone he was paid P50,000.00. In those days this was then a lot of money. Then, he engaged the services of a well known criminal lawyer and author of Remedial Law for P200,000.00 when the case against him was filed in the Fiscal’s Office in Manila. The Davao lawyer who is still alive told me this. His client was not charged criminally before the court as his brilliant lawyer obtained dismissal of the case in the Fiscal’s Office, so the Supreme Court allowed him to take his oath as a lawyer. King Solomon said: “… money answers all things (Eccl. 10:19).

I happened to be in court with one lawyer between us when the new lawyer appeared in the sala of the late City Judge Gumersindo S. Arcilla, a terror judge in his time. When his case was called for hearing, he stood up saying, “Your honor, I am not ready. I request for postponement.” The judge sarcastically remarked, “Who are you?” He was in quandary and speechless for a brief moment perhaps thinking by himself, “does not this judge know that I placed in the bar exam, is he that naïve?” In those days and even today, the individual pictures of the top ten in the bar are published in the front page of all major national newspapers. Then, he said, “I am Atty. So and So…” The judge cut him short by saying, “Yes, I know, but who are you in this case?” The lawyer seated next to him whispered, “Enter ka muna ng iyong appearance”. Complying, he said, “Your honor, I am respectfully entering my appearance as counsel for the accused”. The judge said, “Better, now what is your pleasure?” He meekly manifested, “Your honor, I am respectfully requesting for postponement” His request was granted. But since then up to this day, I never saw him in court again. I learned he engaged in farming, never enjoying the blessing of his noble profession, especially because he was top ten in the bar.

Notably, being an advocate (lawyer) is also the profession of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1). He never lost a case. All his clients are guilty as charged, but all are nevertheless acquitted or pardoned. He takes the punishment himself on behalf of all his clients. But this privilege is only available to, and enjoyed by, those who engage him as their lawyer. Is Jesus Christ our lawyer before God the Father? King Solomon said, “A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things” (Eccl. 10:19 KJV). Notice, he said, all things. Salvation is NOT a thing: it is received spiritually by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. All the wealth of the whole world cannot purchase the supreme blessing of forgiveness and heaven which are the fruit or result of salvation.

We will never accumulate enough riches to purchase a place in the paradise of God. As a matter of fact, even if we own all the riches of this world, still we cannot buy a place in heaven. But praise God, Salvation can be ours “without money and without price,” (Isa. 55:1). Everybody is equal, rich or poor, brilliant or dumb.

We are not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold… but with the precious blood of Christ … being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever (1 Peter 1:18, 19, 23 KJV). Yes, because salvation is given by God as a gift by his grace through faith alone in his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ not by works (Eph. 2:8-9).

But there are requisites for one to receive this gift. First and the most important is faith in God. Faith is simply agreeing or believing what God said in his Word (the Bible). Hence, the ABSOLUTE necessity of knowing the Word of God. The Bible defines faith as, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1 KJV). Notice the present tense “NOW”, not before or in the future. While we are hoping yet to be saved but now, by our faith or trust in the promise of salvation by God we see it with our spiritual eyes. How can we have this “saving” faith? And this “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17 KJV). This is the favorite verse of Past President Engr. Eder Bacus. Notice again that God in his wisdom did not say read. Because not everybody can read, but everybody have ears to hear. Everybody who has ears, let him hear! For those dumb and deaf, we have the sign language. We see this in the television.

Hearing the Word of God is the means of acquiring faith. This faith is evidenced and discerned in the believer as follows: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God had raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9 KJV). Stated differently, the believer faithfully talks about Jesus, his ministry and power to save. Paul continues: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (vs. 13). But notice that Paul continued: “How then shall they (those who have not known God) call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how they hear without a preacher”? [or one who testifies of the extraordinary goodness and power of God]. (Rom. 10:14 KJV).

Our appropriate personal testimonies, talks or conduct as Full Gospel (FGBMFI) members are of extreme importance so other men of all walks of life, particularly the successful businessman, professional or high government official who has plenty of money and in good health and who do not care about God, can have faith in God. This very article is one means Praise God! This is our ministry as envisioned by our founder, Demos Shakarian. This is the essence of the greatest commandment of Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:18-20).

The second requisite is after knowing God and believing him as our sole and only Savior with childlike faith [without doubting], we must confess and repent of all our sins regardless of how numerous and serious they are, as “He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:7). Remember, we are all sinners saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not because of our good works (Eph. 2:8-9). By grace means we do not deserve it, for no one is good enough or have done or can do enough, but because of the LOVE of God which defies description in words, he extend to us the favor and gift of salvation. And he is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34; 36; Gal. 3:26-28). Everybody, sinner or saint, is equal before his sight. But if we are saved, necessarily our salvation shall be evidenced by good works (vs. 10), for faith without good work is dead (James 2:17-18). Stated otherwise, our service to God and in his kingdom and “good” conduct do not earn our salvation, but they are a result of our salvation solely by the grace of God. Salvation cannot be bought with money and is never for sale, and could not be obtained by good work. It is all by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. (FGBMFI Davao City Bulletin Feb 4, 2012)