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.