Thursday, July 6, 2017

#AltheaChapter18

30 days ago, the husband and wife tandem of Jason and Christine Joy gave me the privilege of participating in the well-conceptualized 18th birthday celebration of their daughter Althea. They were so kind to include me as one of the 18 guests who delivered messages of wisdom to the debutante.

This blog post is a slightly edited version of the message I delivered that night. It was a feeble attempt to go along with the party's "book" theme. Also, I antedated it to June 6, the day it took place.


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There was band in the early 1990s called After Image. It's most popular member is the vocalist Wency Cornejo, son of news anchor and broadcast journalist Mel Changco. One of the signature songs of the band was entitled Next in Line. If I remember things right, Wency wrote it right after graduation. It was a realization that he has moved to adulthood. He had new responsibilities in his hands. But there are also lots of uncertainties. So the first line of the song asks, "What has life to offer me when I grow old?". In other words, Cornejo was then asking “What will happen in the next chapters of my life?”

Turning 18 is truly an exciting chapter in one's life. It means you will now be considered as an adult capable of making wise decision on your own. That is why you are given the right to vote and sign contracts. Yet there are also many uncertainties from here and beyond. So it is also a legitimate question for you to ask, "What has life to offer me when I grow old?".

My first word of advice is do not fall into the trap of thinking you can control your future by sheer talent and determination. No, we do not have control over that. We don't even know what will happen tomorrow (James 3:14).

Job did not foresaw that in the next chapters of his life, he would lose all his donkeys, sheep and camels. He did not foresaw the death of all his sons and daughters in a calamity. He did not foresaw that he would soon suffer from painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.

And there was Joseph. Joseph did not foresaw that in the next chapters of his life, his brothers will sell him into slavery. He did not foresaw that he would soon be falsely accused of frustrated rape and find himself in prison in a foreign land.

My second advice would be, imitate what is common to these two men: Job and Joseph. They had unwavering trust in God in the midst of their afflictions. They held on to their integrity because they know fully that God "rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). The winds may blow strongly, the earth may shake violently, but we have a rock-solid foundation that cannot be moved by any force-- and that foundation is Jesus Christ.

My third word of advice, make the most of every chapter that the Lord gives. We do not know the length of this book we are living. Some books are long; some books are short. The most important thing is to please God in every page. When the last chapter of our life comes and we read the very last page, it will be the start of a brand new story. You will be back in chapter one,  this in Volume 2 of your life. It will be a story so glorious because “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." (Revelation 21:4)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Bible in the Hands of the Common Man (According to Manalo's Iglesia ni Cristo)

It has been long rumored that Iglesia ni Cristo members are discouraged, even prohibited, by their leaders from reading the Holy Scriptures. We have a primary source that seems to point to that direction. This is from page 57 of the late EraƱo Manalo's book The Fundamental Beliefs of Iglesia ni Cristo.

In page 57, this question was asked: "Why is a messenger (Felix Manalo) necessary to preach the Gospel when the Bible can just be read by anyone who knows how to read?"
Their answer: "Because the Bible is hidden in mystery"-- they're implying of course that only their messenger could see through the mysteries.

The next question asked is: "If those who are not sent by God study the Bible diligently, will they be able to understand and see God's will which he has hidden in mystery?"
The answer they gave is basically saying that you will only contribute to the confusion in religion if you will study the bible by your self. Only a messenger could handle the Bible safely.

This is directly opposite to what Evangelical Christianity we teaches: the perspicuity (clarity) of Scriptures even to the common man. For this reason, we encourage everyone to feast on reading and studying the God-breathed Scriptures.

Then in the next Q&A, they teach that if you will listen to non-INC preachers, your destiny shall be destruction. These is one of the ways cults control their people. They keep the Bible away from away from their members so they will not see the light. They can only believe what their ministers tell them. They scare them of punishment  if they dare to open their minds to other viewpoints.

This is what we ought to realize: though INC members may posture themselves as if they are knowledgeable in the Bible, the truth is they are ignorant about its message because their leaders kept the source of light away from them. May we find opportunities to bring the eternal lamp of the Holy Scriptures to these folks so that some of them may see the glory of Christ as revealed on its pages.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Original CRI Position on Justification

I watched this for the first time today but its transcript I have read a long time ago. A copy of the transcript was sent to me by the Christian Research Institute (CRI) circa 1999. The Original Bible Answer Man Dr. Walter Martin defended the Protestant position of Sola Fide against Roman Catholic position represented by Jesuit scholar Mitch Pacwa. It was then my first time to learn about the Council of Trent, the difference between imputation and infusion, and the word "justification" itself. This was CRI's position in 1999, that's 10 years after the death of its founder.

But gone are those days. The CRI lead by Hank Hanegraaff now champions the view of the Eastern Church that faith and works should not be polarized and uses James 2:24 as a proof text.

Skip John Ankerberg's long introduction. Begin at 33:30.