Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Reason For Jesus Christ Being And His Crucifixion

 There are five (5) major prophets [six (6) including the Lord Jesus Christ] and twelve (12) minor prophets in the Bible. Major or minor, so they are called, because of the length of the book of their prophecy.

About seven hundred years before Jesus Christ was born, the prince of all human prophets (Jesus Christ being as exception for He was/is DIVINE), Isaiah, made prophecies recorded in Isa. 53 as follows:

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life or resurrect] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (NIV)

Although Isaiah did not specify the name of Jesus Christ when he made the aforequoted prophecies, now after all of the things and circumstances spoken of by him had already happened, it is obviously clear that Isaiah was describing the birth, ministry, purpose and reason for the substitutionary death of our Lord Jesus Christ - - to redeem mankind, for this cause:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

How do we know that someone is really a prophet ordained by God? Simple. All that he prophesied happened and came true. Otherwise, that prophet is a false one who will go to hell together with all the unbelievers.

The greatest force in the universe is LOVE. Someone said: “The only valid passport to heaven is signed in Jesus’ blood”.

This Holy Week, let us celebrate and thank God the Father for sending our Lord Jesus Christ to redeem us from our sins. This is the primary reason for His sacrificial death by crucifixion in the cross of calvary. What unfathomable LOVE!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hearing And Doing The Word Of God

The Apostle James said, “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

From Saturday to Saturday we hear our sharers of the Word of God who are expert in the exposition of the WORD, but the most important question to ask is: ARE WE DOING what we are hearing? This is most difficult to answer in the affirmative.

For example the simple command “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18 and Matt. 19:19), can we really fulfill this even if our neighbor is not lovable in his/her ways toward us? Most of the commandments of God are not only very difficult to obey or comply: they are IMPOSSIBLE! God knowing this, and being a loving and patient God who does not want anyone “to perish but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 2:9), He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrificial lamb, that whosoever BELIEVES on him shall be saved and have ETERNAL life. Jesus himself said, I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE, no one comes to the Father (or enter heaven) EXCEPT through me” (John 14:6). Otherwise, heaven will be an empty place because “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

The word BELIEVE is highly significant because it has a deep theological meaning just like the theology that the precious blood of Jesus Christ was shed in the cross of Calvary which covers our sins for “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (or remission) of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). As soon as we BELIEVE and ACCEPT with all our heart that only the sacrificial love, shedding of blood and substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on our stead, and continue to do so, our sins though scarlet red, are erased or covered by the blood of Jesus. Consequently, ETERNAL LIFE becomes our inheritance.

Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15)… whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18 KJV). Thus, theologians say that the heart of the Bible (O.T. and N.T.) is what Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world (mankind) through him” (John 3:16-17 KJV).

How will a true “believer” of Jesus Christ or God in the flesh, that is one “born again” be known? The Lord Jesus said, “By their fruit you will know them” (Matt. 7:16). What is this fruit? The answer is: “But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS AND SELF-CONTROL…” (Gal. 5:22). Stated otherwise, a true believer or disciple of Christ, or “born-again” person has these characteristic traits or spiritual fruit. Have you ever seen one? Are you one of such a person?

This brings and reminds us of what the Apostle James said: “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). If we read the Bible or listen as it is taught to us but we fail to put to work or do what we have learned, we do not deserve to be saved from eternal damnation. It is only by the GRACE (or undeserved favor) of God through acceptance or faith in Jesus Christ that our souls are saved. Thus, the Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith (or believing with all our heart [without any doubt whatsoever]) – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works (or good deeds), so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9 NIV). But, let us continue reading the next verse which says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10 NIV). Stated otherwise, a true believer/born again person will necessarily do good works for the kingdom of God.

Hearing must be matched by our doing. Even if we take delight to read or hear God’s Word, but it is of NO use or value at all to us unless we do what we heard and learned.

In the famous words of former Philippine Senator, Dr. Juan Flavier who was formerly our Department of Health Secretary (DOH), “Let us DOH do it”.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Guard Your Heart

GOD IS OMNISCIENT or all knowing. King Solomon, the wisest of all men that the Scriptures say, “no one is wiser than him before and after him”, warns:

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” 15 Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.” (1 Kings 3:7-15 NIV)

      One’s intention can never be hidden from God. Nothing to Him is secret. He knows the content of a man’s heart, and He can never be deceived. In fact, God knows everything about us.

      Solomon further said, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23). As true believers of God in these last days, we should purify our hearts (James 4:8) because the heart influences one’s motives and intentions. From the heart comes sincerity of faith and a good conscience. “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jer. 17:9). So, let us be careful with our heart. When true servants or disciples, or believers of God, have a pure heart, they will live in righteousness and be worthy in His sight. Consequently, He will listen to their prayers, and they will see Him in His Kingdom as the Bible tells us, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God”. (Matt. 5:8)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Knowledge Of Truth On File Only

The tragic sinking of the Titanic – the most luxurious ocean-going vessel of its day is the best example of KNOWLEDGE JUST KEPT ON FILE.

The story goes that on her maiden voyage in 1912, as the Titanic was proceeding at great speed, the operator in the wireless room received a radio message giving a warning that icebergs were in the immediate vicinity. The operator wrote the message on a slip of paper, placed it on file, and continued to perform his duties. The recipient of the message did nothing and even forgot all about the message that it never reached the Captain of the Titanic. The result? The ship sank and more than 1500 lives were lost. The lesson: Information without action can lead to tragic physical death or destruction of properties.

In the spiritual sense, God’s message to us is received in the mind as we read and hear the Word preached. If the Word we read or hear preached to us is merely put on file or stored in our mind and nothing is done, it will lead to both physical and spiritual death. If we just put on file the Word of God, it will never touch our heart or move our will, and more so on other people resulting to INACTION, and eventually to spiritual death. Jesus said, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them” (John 13:17). James said, “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (James 1:22).

The command of the LORD Jesus to all believers or disciples is for them to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” and Jesus’ assurance is: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe (the unbeliever of the gospel [or good news of salvation] will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16 NIV).

Thanks be to God for our articles on blog in our FGBMFI Davao City Chapter bulletin, the one and only in the world, which are circulated around the world, in fulfillment of the Great Commission to preach and teach the gospel unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Thus, the truth of God merely stored (or “filed) in our mind will never do us any good. Until that truth we heard and learned gives birth to faith, and faith gives birth to action or deed, it amounts to nothing. It is just “on file”.

I am personally burdened because our attendance and membership is decreasing, as indicated by the many vacant seats every FGBMFI Saturday morning fellowship meeting at the Mandaya Hotel.

Let us all be obedient to the great commission, and be active and performing disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh, remembering that He said, “I tell you… there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents (or converted) than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7 NIV) or “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents [or converted]” (Luke 15:10 NIV). Also, it is noteworthy that “he who wins soul is wise” (Prov. 11:30) for he will receive a reward. The Lord Jesus promised, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12 NIV). Be wise, don’t just keep “on file” your knowledge of the Word of God. Evangelize for precious souls of men. Let us do something for the kingdom of God - - the most significant being the souls brought to His kingdom. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Children Are A Heritage From God, But Train Them

Job, the man of God in the Old Testament said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither”; (Job 1:21 KJV). He is emphasizing that we can’t bring our material riches in heaven. All of these material riches that we have on earth shall be left behind when we die. In fact, a time is appointed in the future when “the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Pet. 3:10) and “That day will bring about the destruction of the heaven by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat (vs. 11). So, why do people strive or work hard to be rich? The answer is simple: to enjoy those riches while living on this planet earth.

The Bible teaches that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and some people will be fortunate to be able to enter this stage of life which is eternal - - without end. How? For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 KJV). “Believe in the LORD Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31 NIV). Simple, but difficult to achieve. For most people, to see is to believe, but the trouble with God is that He merely tells us now in words, we can see later when we reach there! This is what the Bible calls FAITH. Faith in Jesus (God in the flesh or person). No faith in Jesus/God, sorry no heaven.

Blessed were those who saw personally and spoke to Jesus in person and who witnessed the miracles He performed, the first being the turning of six jars of water into wine during a wedding ceremony in Cana (John 2:6 & 9). They did not have a hard way of believing that Jesus is God, for it is obvious that no one can perform the miracle unless He is God or God is with Him.

However, many of us, I said US because I include myself, are like the Old Testament people who were fed with manna (bread from God out of heaven, or from nothing for 40 years); they crossed the red sea on dry ground; in the New Testament era, the feeding of five thousand excluding women and children out of only two fish and five loaves of bread (Mark 6:30-44); when Jesus walked on the water (Mark 6:45-51); and the other miraculous events too numerous to enumerate, but yet somehow when they were faced with difficulties in life, they doubted the awesome power of God. Jesus said, “with God nothing is impossible” or “with God anything and everything is possible” (Luke 1:37; 18:27).

This brings us to the meaning of FAITH. The Bible itself defines FAITH in this manner: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1 NIV). In the King James version, NOW is capitalized to emphasize the fact that although we do not yet see with our own eyes, yet we are already SURE of what we are still hoping for (like to be in heaven, a place reserved by God for all BELIEVERS in Christ [God in the flesh or person] partly described as follows:

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 21:1-4; 22:1-5)

How does faith work for our salvation? The Bible gives an account of Jesus Christ being anointed by a sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50. At the conclusion of the story Jesus said to the woman: Your FAITH has saved you; go in peace” (vs. 50).

The best example of a man of faith in the Old Testament was Abraham. He believed [had full faith in God and His promises], so he is among those we will find in heaven, when and if we reach there. Not only Abraham but also his descendant Isaac, and the “wise” (Like most of us some or most of the time) Jacob. In Tagalog, “may pag-asa pa tayo” (There is still hope for us).

But there is a riches we can bring with us to heaven. The souls of our children, if they are properly brought up by us in the admonition of the LORD God. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6 KJV).

I have proven the truth of this Bible passage personally. Being then, in my younger days as a lawyer, handpicked by the late Rev. Veronico T. Suan, then the Mindanao District Supervisor of the Foursquare Gospel Church in the Philippines, to be the President and Chairman of the Board to succeed him, at the Thompson Christian School, a religious school founded and organized by the late Dr. Evelyn Thompson with her husband, Rev. Arthur Thompson. 60 years ago, the founders of the Foursquare Gospel Church in the Philippines right here in Davao City. Our city is one among the three largest and most progressive cities in the Philippines in terms of income and population, and the largest city in terms of area, so it is reputed. It may even produce a President of the Philippines by this coming Presidential election in 2016. Only God knows.

By the way, our illustrious Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte was used by God in raising funds to build a three-storey fully concrete edifice of the Thompson Christian School through the donations of business people in Davao City, he had gathered one time in April 22, before his daughter Sara took her oath in April 30 of that year to succeed her father. To God be the glory! In his honor and as an everlasting legacy from him, the school named the third floor as the “R. R. Duterte Hall”. The “R.R.” is very significant because his daughter Sara also became a Mayor, right after the various donations were made, so to make sure that “honor to whom honor is due” shall be accorded, I personally made sure that the “R.R.” before the name Duterte was made of bronze and be embedded in the wall at the entrance of the hall – a legacy to last for eternity.

Many years back, being then the President and Chairman of the Board of the school, I saw to it that our four children were enrolled in the school so they will be “trained in the way he (they) should go, and when he (they) are old, he (they) will not depart from it”. Praise God, Susan, the eldest became a lawyer, having garnered, by the grace of God, the 9th place in the Bar Exam for lawyers in 1991; my Junior who placed 12th place in the Mechanical Engineering Board Exam who graduated with honors in law degree became a lawyer too; Neil an Electrical Engineer became a lawyer too, having passed the Bar examinations with a grade of 86%; and last but not the least Vilma, who became a Registered Nurse in the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, and right now serving as Department Head in a specialized hospital in California, U.S.A. Susan, the bar topnotcher, after an intervening term from my term as President and Chairman of the Board of the school, was elected to the same positions. She holds the positions up to this day, while I remain a member of the Board.

Lest I be misunderstood, I relate these achievements of our children not to brag but to prove the truth that when we train our children in the way they should go, the blessing of God will necessarily follow as night follows day. It is good to send our children to a Christian school where true Christian values are made part of the curriculum.

Children are our wealth or heritage from God, provided we train them in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Only Way To Prosperity

The normal dream of any man is to prosper in life. For this reason, some pursue professional courses like medicine, law, engineering and such other courses which they believe will enable them to earn more money in the hope that if they have an abundance of money or if they become wealthy, they will become prosperous in life. To many people acquiring a degree in education is the key to material prosperity.

Our national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, pursued a medical degree in Spain, then a progressive country in the world. Was he a prosperous man? Yes and no. Yes, because he enjoys the title of being the national hero of the Philippines. No, because he was not able to build a business empire where he could be wealthy materially like that of the Ayalas, Aranetas, Cojuancos, Madrigals, etc. He was not able to build a hospital or even a medical clinic of his own. His only outstanding accomplishment on historical record as a medical doctor was his successful operation of the cataract of his own mother. Of course, there is no dispute that he ignited and revolutionized the Filipino people to obtain their independence from the Spanish regime, and through his extraordinary talent in writing he authored two wonderful books. The Noli Me Tangere and the El Filibusterismo in which he exposed the abuses of the Spanish government particularly the clergy who were then the powerful forces in government, which eventually led to the overthrow of this foreign power. Had he organized a Foundation to pursue and manage the gain of his writing talent even after his demise, Rizal and his heirs or successors-in-interest would be very rich in royalty of his writing talent but not as a Doctor of Medicine, or by his educational achievements.

The Bible relates to us a man who prospered not only materially, politically, socially and spiritually – the man JOSEPH of the Old Testament. The Bible tells us, “ And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man, …” (Gen. 39:2 KJV). The Bible continues, “Because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.” (Gen. 39:23 KJV).

Who makes us to prosper? The LORD God Almighty. How? The LORD must be with us. Thus, the Bible instructs us, In Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all the things you have need of shall be added unto you.” It continues, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and Only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. This is true prosperity, not only materially, physically or socially, but more importantly SPIRITUALLY which is ETERNALLY - - and it is forever.

The question to ask is: How do we seek God? Pray and read the Bible. Memorize important passages which will automatically come to our mind when the need arises. Hear the Word of God from “Men of God” who teaches and preaches the WORD of God without adulteration, and do what the Word says or instructs. In other words, be a follower or disciple of Jesus (God in person) in thoughts, in words and in deeds. This is very difficult to do - - to be Christlike, but it is the only way to be successful and prosperous and a guarantee that our name will be written in the book of life (Rev. 20:12 & 15 KJV) like our specimen character Joseph of the Old Testament. Surely, the name of Joseph is not only written in the Bible but also in the Book of Life.
But before that, Joseph underwent hardships and sacrifices, physically, emotionally and spiritually - - almost unbearable, if not for the grace of God upon him. He did not give up but rather went through trials patiently with the various testing of his faith and in his life, such as his being persecuted by his own blood brothers and imprisoned though he was innocent and guiltless. So, like Joseph, let God be with us and be our Shepherd; let us be patient, don’t give up. God will never leave us nor forsake us (Joshua 1:5; Heb. 13:5). Add to these characteristics, diligence which according to Solomon, the wisest man whoever lived said, “The hand of the diligent maketh rich; but the slothful (lazy) become poor” (Prov. 10:4 KJV), and he added, “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor” (Prov. 12:24 NIV). The only way to have eternal prosperity, materially and spiritually and to be with Jesus (God in the flesh) in earth and in heaven is to follow the way - as Jesus has declared “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father (to heaven) except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Retirement in God's Service

 Retirement is always associated with old age. It usually means physical decline and weakness, loneliness, and a retreat to inactivity. Some retired people just sit and think, and sit and think. . . and sometimes just sit. That’s getting old in the worst way – – ceasing to live before one dies.

In Philippine setting, the retirement for the military and police is fifty-five or thirty years service whichever comes first. This is rather too young an age to retire. But considering the nature of work of soldiers and policemen, studies show that this is just the right age for them to retire. Many military men who use their common sense and are smart especially those who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), apply to become executives of large corporations and earn and enjoy more their life after their retirement.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur was already a retired General of the US Army serving as the head of West Point Military Academy, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt recalled him to active duty during World War II. Thereafter, having proved his genius as a military commander both in World War II and in the Korean War in the 50’s, he served in various capacities in the U.S. government, the last of which was his assignment in Japan as the Occupation Military Commander of that country to whom the emperor of Japan reports. He rebuilt Japan economically. The industrial economic success and stability of Japan today is an eloquent proof of the genius of Gen. MacArthur even in his old age. He was compulsorily retired by President Harry S. Truman at age 74 due to conflict of strategy in handling the Communist expansionism in the world. He served well the U.S. government for fifty-two years!

History records that many people made some of their greatest contributions to society after the age of sixty five. The Earl of Halsburg, for example, was 90 when he began preparing a 20-volume revision of English law; Goethe wrote Faust at 82. Galileo made his greatest discovery when he was 73. Sir Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of England at the age of 77.

On the religious world, at 69, the respected missionary Hudson Taylor, was still vigorously working on the mission field, opening up new territories in Indochina. In Old Testament times, when Caleb was 85, he took the stronghold of the giants (Josh. 14:10-15). Moses, the acclaimed great leader of Bible times was eighty years old when he was commissioned by God to liberate the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt, then the World Power of all nations of the known world. He served for forty years until the Lord took him at age 120 and buried him with God’s own hands (Deut. 34:6).

God never intends for us to retire from spiritual activity at an early age. Instead the Bible tells us:

12 The righteous (believer) will flourish like a palm tree,  they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit (souls or spiritual fruit) in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,”
(Ps. 92:12-14 NIV)

Even as Jesus kept the “best wine” for the last at the wedding in Cana (John 2:10), so God seeks to gather the most luscious clusters of the fruit of the Spirit from the fully ripened harvest of our lives. The best of life is yet to come in our old age!

We can be sure God would not keep us on this work-a-day world of tears and joy if He did not have a worthwhile ministry for us to accomplish like in the case of Moses, Joshua, Abraham and the other great men-servants of “God (Jesus in person) who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). So let us keep on serving the Lord! Remember, the older we become, we acquire valuable experiences in life. “Experience is the best teacher”. Be like Moses, serve until God himself retires us.

It is worth quoting the adage favorite of Capt. Remy Celeste, our oldest FGBMFI member, “Age is a matter of the mind; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I Talked With God

 It is a rare privilege for anyone to be able to talk to, and have a handshake, with the highest official of our land or country.

When I was a new lawyer, a bosom friend and client, and the son-in-law of then Governor Paciano Bangoy of Davao Province when Davao was yet a single province, invited me to the Governor’s residence so I can meet my “idol,” the 1939 lawyer-bar topnotcher whose 98% grade is unsurpassed up to this day, who was then the Senate President and who was campaigning for the Presidency of the Philippines, the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos. I was excited beyond words could express to meet him personally. Being accompanied by the son-in-law of the Governor, breaking protocol, I was brought directly to Senate President Marcos. In his golden baritone voice, as I was introduced to, and had a handshake with him, he said to me, “How are you?” Oh, the indescribable joy in my heart, especially because he was subsequently elected President by a landslide vote.

In my later years as an active practitioner, in my capacity as President and later Chairman of the Board of the most prestigious organization of businessmen, professionals and politicians in Davao City, the Davao City Chamber of Commerce & Industry, now with more than 500 members, I have had handshakes with the succeeding Presidents of the Philippines, like President Joseph Estrada, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, except, perhaps by pure coincidence, the incumbent one, President Noynoy Aquino and his late mother, President Corazon C. Aquino.

But the privilege of having a handshake or talking to the President of our country is nothing. While I know them as all of us know them, I am sure, they don’t remember having handshake with me or me having talked to them, should, by God’s grace, we meet later in heaven.

But everyday, morning, noontime, evening, every and any moment, I can always talk to God in prayer. There is no protocol with God. We do not need anyone else to introduce us to Him or any special occasion to talk to our God as He himself taught us, we can directly pray, “Our Father which art in heaven…” Then, we can proceed to ask and tell him anything, and according to His perfect will, what we ask for will be granted to us as gift without spending a single cent. And we can do this anywhere at anytime. Only “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and the door shall be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7). And God remembers us because the Scripture says, “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:30). That is how sharp the memory of our God! Imagine, God knows even the number of our hairs! How wonderful! But are we availing of this wonderful opportunity and privilege of talking to God (Jesus Christ in the flesh) personally any moment everyday? Let us do so for our own good and for the glory of God.

What makes it more wonderful is that we do not have to be a professional, businessman, wealthy, high politician, brilliant, or a friend to someone close to God. Any one can talk to God through prayer. “The Spirit and the bride (Jesus Christ) say, “Come’, And let him who hears say, ‘Come’ Whoever is thirsty of (God, the Love of God), let him come, and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17 NIV). 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

What Are The Evidence That One Is Saved?

The topic I discussed in my articles, “Who then can be saved?” (January 17, 2015) and its sequel “Who can be saved?” (January 24, 2015) generated question marks in some reader-believers. I have been asked to further clarify what I have written. By the way, the things I wrote are not my idea, I merely quoted from the Bible, the Word of God, as written by the Apostle Paul, who is also known as the greatest persecutor of Christians during his time until Jesus Christ (God in the flesh [John 1:1 and 1:14] spoke to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutist thou me?” to which he inquired, “Who art thou Lord?”, and the one speaking answered, “ I am Jesus whom thou persecutist”.

Then, the rest is history, but the conclusion was that Saul, whose name was changed to Paul (when he was converted to Christianity) and who was not only an ordinary Christian–believer, but who wrote thirteen (13) of the twenty-seven (27) books of the New Testament (to include Hebrews) is acclaimed also as the greatest apostle. Incidentally, he was a lawyer or “advocate”, like the Lord Jesus Christ, the lawyer for all sinners in the Court of heaven. As a lawyer or advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ won all His cases for being able to save all repentant sinners (meaning all true believers of God (Jesus in the flesh), in thoughts, in words and in deeds. But His winning cost Him death by crucifixion in the cross of calvary, the severest and most ignominious form of dying because of his extreme physical suffering for a number of hours, unlike today’s extreme penalty of death by electrocution which takes only a second (or with the least physical suffering).

Thus, Jesus Christ has no equal in loving – for He loves everybody especially the sinners. Thus, the Bible tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 NIV). He gave up His life to save the sinners and without expecting anything in return. This is the difference between Jesus Christ and the ordinary human lawyer (or advocate). A human lawyer works hard for the victory especially if he is well compensated by his client – that is, he expects some reward.

Let us review again what the Bible says, on who can be saved.

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9 NIV)

The Apostle John said:

“16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 KJV)

Let us analyze what the apostles said.

We are “saved by grace through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works.”

By grace means unmerited favor: meaning, we do not deserve to be saved because we are all sinners, and the penalty of sin is death, both physical and spiritual. For the wages (or penalty) for sin is death. This is what the Bible means when it said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and the wages or penalty for sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

No one is good enough to deserve to be saved, for it is written:
10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 NIV)

But because of the unfathomable (measureless) Love of God for all men, “we are justified (just-as-if we have not sinned) freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. God presented himself as a sacrifice of atonement (Jesus took our place) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (to regain someone’s favor) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission (or forgiveness) of sins that are past, through the forbearance (or leniency, clemency, indulgence, or patience) of God. To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26 KJV).

The Bible clearly says, salvation is by faith only, not by our works, and it is the gift of God. Meaning, we do not pay for it or earn it because of our good works, but it is given free without cost (or requirement of anything tangible) in money or deeds. The Bible continues:

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10 NIV).

Meaning to say, a saved person will do and show “good works” for the Kingdom of God. How would we know his good works? We will know it by his fruit – the fruit of the Holy Spirit or by converts to Christianity because of his life’s good example. What is this spiritual fruit? LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL (Gal. 5:22). This saved person receives from God, gifts of the Holy Spirit which may be one or all of these gifts:

“6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8 NIV)

Are we (you) saved? By the grace of God through faith in His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Who Can Be Saved?

This is a sequel to my previous article published in our Saturday bulletin on January 17, 2015.

Let us look at Eph. 2:8-9 (NIV) again:

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast.”

As we know, grace is defined as unmerited favor. Meaning, we don’t deserve to be saved because we are sinners, and the penalty of sin is SPIRITUAL death (Romans 6:23), but because we believe what Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV), we are saved from the penalty of spiritual death. The question is: where is the Father? Of course, He is in heaven, and Jesus Christ is seated on His right hand (Eph. 1:20), “for he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressor’s (Isa. 53:12 NIV), that is why we can enter heaven.

But there is a condition before we, (the sinners), will be extended grace, that is, we must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that He is the Only begotten Son of God and that He is also God (John 1:1). Thus, faith in Jesus Christ alone is needed to enter heaven. Nothing more, as the Word of God is definitely clear that it is not by works (Eph. 2:9) for it is the gift of God (vs. 8). Of course, salvation will result in good works (Eph. 2:10).

The question will be asked, “So what happens to the people who do not believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God; that He is God himself”; and He is the only savior of our soul? The answer is: No one goes to the Father in heaven EXCEPT through His Son Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

How do we know that someone is truly a believer of Jesus Christ? By their fruit, you will recognize them (Matt. 7:16 NIV). What is the fruit of the true believer? The one who exhibits LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL. In short, one who is born again in the SPIRIT (John 3:5-8) is a true believer of Jesus Christ. And a born again believer is the only one qualified to enter the Kingdom of God, or heaven (John 3:5), because only those born again have eternal life. Thus the Bible tells us. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV).

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Who Then Can Be Saved?

This is a question asked by the disciples of Jesus Christ.

Believers (of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh) are encouraged to be Christlike. To be Christlike is to be like the Lord Jesus Christ in thoughts, in words and in deeds. This is a difficult thing to do, because human as we are, we are subject to human frailties, likes and dislikes or prejudices. Thus, our normal tendency is to love those who show us love; we give to those who give to us; we are courteous to those who are equally courteous. And the converse of all these is true to us as well.

For example, when Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross of calvary, what did he pray to his Father for those who persecuted and hanged him? He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV). Who is the human being who would pray in that manner? No one. Impossible. It is written,

There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no not one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 NIV).

If this be the case, who then can be saved and who deserves to be in heaven as promised by Jesus Christ when he said,

1Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3 NIV)

Yes, no one really deserves to enter heaven on his own effort or “goodness”; it is only by the grace of God. Thus, the Bible says,

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9 NIV)

What is grace? The simplest definition understandable by everybody is: grace means an “unmerited favor”. Reducing this to its lowest term, we do not really deserve it because we are sinners, but because of the love of God, by his grace, through faith (because we believe Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh) and the truth of his promise, we will be allowed to enter heaven. In Tagalog, “hindi sana maari (or puede) pero sigue na lang, pasok ka pagkat naniwala ka na Diyos si Jesu Cristo).

So, we are saved not because we are good or upright, but by the grace of God because we have faith in Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh. Thus, the Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 NIV). But one who is saved is Christlike, so he is good and upright, and will do “good works”. The Bible says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).