Monthly Archives: June 2016

The End Of The Age – Part 1

I am interested to learn what the bible really meant about the word “church” and whether or not it is the same as the proper noun “Church”. My initial quest led me to focus first on the topic of “Temple of God”.

Temple of Jerusalem

Herod’s Temple or Temple of Jerusalem.

This again led me to Matthew 24:6-8, one of the important doctrine of the Church, Church of Christ or Iglesia Ni Cristo.

Matthew 24:6-8, NKJV – 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

We always believe the “war” is the first world war which broke up on July 27, 1914 [modern history is July 28, 1914].

As I read this verse, the words “And you …” caught my attention. when Christ says “you“, logically he was speaking to the Apostles. Now, why Christ is speaking of “future wars” led me to read the entire Matthew 24. In fact the first topic of Matthew 24 is regarding the temple of Jerusalem which is why I got into Matthew 24:6-8.

Now I realized Matthew 24 is a huge topic debated by many Christian religions. This topic also led me to Olivet Discourse – something I heard before but never understood what it is all about. There are a few more words that I learned as part of this research and I think for my readers it is important to understand the definitions to appreciate the entire topic.

OLIVET DISCOURSE – The Olivet Discourse or Olivet prophecy is a biblical passage found in the Synoptic Gospels in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. It is also known as the Little Apocalypse because it includes the use of apocalyptic language, and it includes Jesus’ warning to his followers that they will suffer tribulation and persecution before the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God.

ESCHATOLOGY – is a part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the “end of the world” or “end time”.

PRETERISM – A Christian eschatological view interprets some (Partial Preterism) or all (Full Preterism) prophecies of the Bible as events which have already happened. This school of thought interprets the Book of Daniel as referring to events that happened in the 2nd century BC, while seeing the prophecies of Revelation as events that happened in the first century AD. Preterism holds that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Some Preterist believe John is describing the challenges of the early church in overcoming the Antichrist power of pagan Rome and the influence of Judaism.

Now the problem with this view is it teaches that God has had no prophetic message for His people during the past 2000 years, and still has no message for His people today living in the last days, even though we are living in a more spiritually perilous time than ever before! And the fact that the last couple of chapters of Revelation describe the second coming and New Jerusalem throws this view into doubt straight away.

FUTURISM – This is the belief that John wrote primarily about events that have yet to occur, even in our day. Including the future rise of the Antichrist. Futurism is the interpretation put forth by the popular Left Behind series and is supported by the majority of mainstream Protestant Christians. Interestingly, this theory was first put forth by a Roman Catholic Jesuit, Francisco Ribera in the late 1500’s. And there is very good reason for this view to come about. And that is because of the great Protestant reformation just beginning in the 1500’s, which exposed the Papal Church of Rome as the main Bible antichrist system. So this theory of futurism was invented by the Jesuits to divert people’s minds from seeing that the Roman Church is the antichrist and that great whore which Revelation describes.

Now one of the problems with this view is similar to the problem with Preterism. This view teaches that God had no prophetic message for His people during the past 2000 years! And that Revelation covers only a small portion of time, during the very end. Whereas Preterism teaches that it covers a very small portion of time during the beginning of the church.

HISTORICISM – This is the belief that John was writing future history as it would unfold from his day to the end of time, detailing the events of the church and major world powers all the way through to the second coming of Christ. Interestingly, this is the view that most of the great Protestant reformers used in their teachings.

Additionally, I would add the Iglesia Ni Cristo here as exclusivism.

EXCLUSIVISM – “Chosen People”. Throughout history, various groups of people have considered themselves to be chosen people by a deity for a purpose, such as to act as the deity’s agent on earth. In monotheistic faiths, like Abrahamic religions, references to God are used in constructs such as “God’s Chosen People”. Anthropologists commonly regard these claims as a form of ethnocentrism.

Introduction To End Of The Age

I find Olivet Discourse a very complex but interesting topic because part of it (Matthew 24:6-8) is an important verse to the Iglesia Ni Cristo.

At the start of Matthew 24, Jesus talked about the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (also known as Herod’s Temple). The discussion that Jesus had just had with the scribes and Pharisees took place inside the Temple grounds. Now, as they depart from the Temple the words of Jesus, “Your house shall be left to you desolate,” still burned in their ears. They point out the buildings of the Temple and their magnificence. Mark says that they particularly pointed out the stones of the temple. What could possibly happen to such a massive edifice? The building thought to have been some 10 stories high and likely to have been adorned with gold, silver, and other precious items. Jesus responds that not one of those stones would remain intact in the building, and the whole thing would be reduced to rubble. The Apostles asked “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”. Notice that the Apostles asked for the end of the age – I will cover some interpretations of the “end of the age” which apparently is different from “end of the world” or “end of the earth“.  Jesus answered

Matthew 24:6-8, NKJV – 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

The “you” logically is referring to the Apostles who are listening to Christ when He spoken those words. The Preterist further explained that Jesus is referring to the “generations” of the Apostles according to Matthew 24:34-35.

Matthew 24:34-25, NKJV – 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Jesus saying it is “this generations” who will experience what He was saying.

In 70 A.D., just 40 years after Jesus was crucified, the Roman army burned down Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. It was a stunning loss for the Jews.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem,

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem, by David Roberts (1850).

Is History Repeating Itself?

If I forget all the theories of equivocations, I must totally subscribe to the belief the Iglesia Ni Cristo is the chosen nation of God in these last days. If the Church leaders are committing malpractices that are no longer in accordance to the pristine teachings of the Church during the time of the first two Administrations, like the Jews at the time of Christ, God allowed their Temple to be destructed as a punishment for committing various sins against Him. It is entirely possible, the Church of Christ, chosen people of God, may fall to its destruction as another punishment of God to his people so that it will rebuild itself to its glorious state once again for the glory of God.

– till next time, Cornelius.

Are You Heavily Laden?

Everyday you wake up, perhaps you pray. Before you go to work perhaps you pray. After work perhaps you go straight to the chapel, you pray and do your office work or other church duties. Perhaps if you have children they will not see you until the next morning if they are lucky. The next day you will likely do the same thing. Good thing there is no devotional prayers this week, but if there is, you might wake up early and go to the chapel before going to work, or perhaps since you are going to the chapel at night anyway you better attend the night devotional prayers. You save little but very precious moment of your life. Do you think your effort pleases God or man?

There is no denial many times you feel the holy spirit in your prayers but admit it or not, many times you don’t. Despite of your everyday efforts you do not feel the peace of mind. Ask yourself, do you hear the gospel of peace in the worship service? Perhaps the answer is yes, but possibly your answer is no.

What Could Be The Reason One May Not Be At Peace?

Possibly the Minister is not preaching the gospel of peace.

Romans 10:15, NKJV – 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

According to Romans 10:15, true preachers teach the gospel of peace. You know when INC Ministers read Romans 10:15, he reads half of the verse only (“And how they shall preach unless they are sent?“). The Ministers use this verse to inculcate that if you read the scriptures yourself, you will end up to your self-destruction – which is one reason why we are not receiving the gospel of peace but the gospel of fear. This is actually the first verse I looked for theory of equivocation as I was skeptical hearing only half of the verse every time this is read in the worship service or bible study.

The Church lessons always have the same pattern:

  • Using current events to start a point
  • The homily topics
  • Those who do not follow will go to the lake of fire.
  • Those who follow are blessed.

Lately,  lessons always emphasis on why members should follow the Church Administration. Do you think this is teaching of the gospel of peace?

The Gospel Of Peace

The gospel of peace is the peace with God

Colossians 3:15, NKJV – 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

and the peace with our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 16:33, NKJV – 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Now that we know what is the gospel of peace. Christ has the invitation to those who are heavily laden.

Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV – 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Let us read the same verse from Easy-to-Read version (ERV)

Matthew 11:28-30, ERV – 28Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. 29 Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest. 30 Yes, the teaching that I ask you to accept is easy. The load I give you to carry is light.”

The invitation of Lord Jesus Christ is to come to Him. It is addressed to those who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. Why did Christ says the load given to us to carry is light? It is because by grace we have been saved, not of your own effort so that no one can say “Lord I have done so much work in the Church” to claim your reward in heaven.

Ephesians 2:8-9 , NKJV – 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

I hope you learn something here.

-Cornelius

The Fear of Death

In this post, let me explain my brethren in the Church of Christ that it is not my intention to deceived anyone by introducing wrong doctrine but to expose some theories of equivocation of the Church doctrines. We have every right to doubt the Church doctrines specially the way Church leadership conducts themselves. The theories are subject for further discussion, analysis and it is up to you to study more of the scriptures. Please read “Test The Spirits Whether They Are Of God” why you should learn more of the scriptures.

One of the doctrine in the Church of Christ is the obligation of the members to lead a new life. It is not enough for man to join or become a member of the Church of Christ to be saved. Members who lead a new life are truly of Christ and of God. Thus, all sinful ways should be renounced by a member of the Church of Christ, and he should live by the teachings he has received.

The statement sounds very convincing to be a truthful, honest, good moral and spiritual doctrine. Let me uncover some of the theory of equivocation here based on some verses in the scriptures.

Let us dissect the theme of the doctrine

  1. It is not enough to become a member of the Church of Christ to be saved.
  2. Members should lead a new life, so you are truly of Christ and of God
  3. all sinful ways should be renounced.
  4. live by the teachings he has received.

It is not enough to become a member

Let us refer to John 10:9

John 10:9, NKJV – 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

the statement says “anyone enters by Me, will be saved“. The Church doctrine just contradict the statement of our Lord Jesus Christ that it is not enough to enter. Why the Church introduced this doctrine? They need continues supply of offerings and bible students. Notice when Minister explain how to renew your life, It is followed by the teachings of offerings and propagation.

Let us split the verse

  • I am the door – the door is our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no mentioned of a “Church” or “Church of Christ” but only our Lord Jesus Christ. Do you get the difference?  In the article “For The Promise Is To You And To Your Children, And To All Who Are Afar Off” I made a theory of equivocation on siting Ephesians 2:15 regarding the “one new man from the two” refers to the Jews and the Gentiles, not the Christ as Head and His body as the church. This is my point the Lord Jesus Christ is not equal to Church of Christ in the context of John 10:9.
    Ephesians 2:15, NKJV – 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
  • anyone enters by Me, he will be saved – clearly Christ says ‘anyone’ enters by Him. The question now is how do we really enter to Christ? Is there another way?
    John 14:6 , NKJV – 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

    Now we know only way is Christ but is Christ = Church of Christ?

  • will go in and out and find pastures – Christ says “will go in and out“. He did not say get yourself registered in the Church to be saved. Do not allow yourself to get expelled or you will be condemned and go to the lake of fire. Entering the door is not the door of the chapel and going in and out is not going in and out of the chapel. Clearly Christ says “will go in and out and find pastures“. Those who enters Christ have freedom of in and out and still will find pastures. What is mean by in and out? Jesus was said to be coming in and out during the time of the Apostles.
    Acts 1:21 , NKJV – 21 herefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

    Using same context of Acts 1:21, the “in and out” is the daily coming in and coming out of Jesus. The “in and out” in John 10:9 are the are the ups and downs of our life. Sometimes when life is good, we tend to forget our Lord. When life is sorrowful, we go back to the Lord for help – even so Christ says we will find pastures.

How Can We Lead Our Life?

There is little doubt of theory of equivocation here because the Church changed the word “walk” to “Lead” when studying the doctrinal lesson. Let us understand what is stated in Romans 6:4.

Romans 6:4 , NKJV – 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Who can lead our life? Not ourselves but the Spirit of God.

Romans 8:14 , NKJV – 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

All sinful ways should be renounced.

We will not dispute this statement.

live by the teachings he has received

This is not bad doctrine at all. But what about if the teachings received are not correct? How many verses have I put in theories of equivocation? I am not saying those verse are incorrect but still opens a doubt and subject for revisiting for analysis. We know now the The true children of God are led by the Spirit of God (Rom.8:14) and those who are true preacher teach the gospel of peace.

Romans 10:15, NKJV – 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Ephesians 2:14, NKJV – 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,

What about the current Church Administration what kind of gospel do they preach? The gospel of fear. The fear of expulsion. The result is what is stated in Romans 2:14-15

Hebrews 2:14-15 , NKJV – 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Those who through fear of death [ lake of fire ] were all their lifetime subject to bondage.  Bondage means the state of being bound by or subjected to some external power or control.

How can we get out of bondage? We can learn from the experience of the Jews during their slavery from Egypt.

Exodus 20:2 , NKJV – 2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

It is God who can remove us from bondage. Through His gift, through faith we are saved.

Ephesians 2:8 , NKJV – 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

The gifts of God are irrevocable

Romans 11:29, NKJV – 12 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Man cannot change this law of God. therefore there is no such thing as expulsion that take away your salvation. We will uncover the theory of equivocation on the teaching of expulsion in the future post.

-Cornelius

Submit To God, Obey Your Leaders

How do we submit ourselves to God? Do we need to submit to church leaders to be of God? The Church teach us to submit to God using James 4:7. Let us use it, understand it from a general context of the author.

James 1:1-10, NKJV – 3 1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

Humility Cures Worldliness

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Let us understand from the modified version with my emphasis.

James 4:1-10, NKJV

Pride Promotes Strife

4 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure [living in luxurious airplane, hotel, cars, huge houses ]  that war in your members? 2 You lust [living in luxurious airplane, hotel, cars, huge houses ] and do not have [even do not have your own money]. You murder and covet [pretend to have billions of dollars in you pocketand cannot obtain [ but now you can not easily get the money] . You fight and war [ you asked to pray for the enemy to fail as if you are in a holy war]. Yet you do not have [ you don’t really have anything from your own sweat]  because you do not ask [ you do not know how to pray]. 3 You ask and do not receive [maybe you try to pray when you are alone], because you ask amiss [because what you pray is wrong], that you may spend it on your pleasures. [ you always spend through your luxurious lifestyle]  4 Adulterers and adulteresses! [uhmm I do not know anything about this]  Do you not know that friendship with the world [being obsessed with all kinds of Guinness Book of Records, obsessed with having biggest arena in the world, obsessed with connections with politician, obsessed with luxurious properties and materials]  is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud [ proud of having all luxury in life, have all different kind of Guinness Book of Records, having build the largest dome in the world, being a leader],
But gives grace to the humble.”

Humility Cures Worldliness

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw [learn how to pray] near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands [ask for forgiveness for what you have done in the Church], you sinners [members who follow the mark of the hand]; and purify your hearts, you double-minded [Are you of God OR of the owner of the right thumb?]. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Words inside [  ] are mine.

Obey Your Leaders And Submit To Them

How we should obey the leaders? In the Iglesia Ni Cristo, this is one of the doctrine to obey the leaders, without questions. It is God who placed the administration in the Church and has given it the responsibility to watch over us. It is our obligation to submit ourselves and to obey it.

Let us test the spirit  on the INC teachings of Hebrews 13:17.

Hebrews 13:17, NKJV – 17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Firstly, the verse does not mentioned Church Administration. In some bible translation it starts with “obey your leaders…”. In Hebrew culture the leaders were normally elders that met as a council not a hierarchical form of leadership. Secondly, the verse says “unprofitable for you”, there are no warnings of imminent spiritual danger or doom like you go to lake of fire if you do not follow. The Hebrews here are not warned that they face shipwreck or disaster if they don’t submit. If they don not,  it is of no advantage.

Ray C. Stedman wrote the following in his commentary on Hebrews:

Several things should be noted about Hebrews 13:17 and 1Thess 5:12.  The word “obey” comes from the Greek peitho, “to persuade.”  The present imperative middle form, used here, means “permit oneself to be persuaded,” “yield to persuasion.”  It definitely does not mean to blindly follow orders.  The phrase those who are over you in the Lord should simply be “your leaders in the Lord.”  There is no thought of being “over” anyone, or others being “under” a leader.  The authority of a Christian leader is not command authority but servant leadership.  A servant has authority, as Jesus said he had, because he awakens by his loving service a desire to comply.  Or he is persuasive because of his logic or knowledge.

There is a clear instruction to obey leadership but that obedience stems from persuasion, not authority and the leadership in this context is not a hierarchy. They key difference between obedience to authority and obedience to persuasion is that the person doing the obeying still has the right and the obligation to be discerning. What are those to be discerned? They are also written in Hebrews chapter 13. Let’s go back to Hebrews 13:7

Hebrews 13:7, NKJV – 7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.

Notice that there are conditions in the verse. If we dissect the verse we can understand it better.

  • who have spoken the word of God to you – Do you hear the true context of the scriptures in the Church worship services? When they teach the words of God, do they interpret them correctly or do they interpret according to their benefits?
  • whose faith follows – Whose faith is followed inside the Church now? Is it our Lord Jesus Christ or “One with EVM”? The faith that we follow should be no other than faith in Christ
    Galatians 2:16, NKJV – 16 yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.

    In fact, the passage says that a man is not justified by works – meaning no matter how much time you spent in the Church, it cannot be justified. Only through faith in Christ. If you do not believe that then you are likely following a selective teaching of the scriptures.

  • considering the outcome of their conduct – Consider the conduct of the Church leaders. How are they living in their life? Do they show as good examples? How are things inside the Church now do members feel the holy spirit? Do the church leaders preach the gospel of peace ot do they preach how to obey, offer and obey? How do they treat the expelled Ministers and members especially family of the late Executive Minister?

Clearly Hebrews 13:17 speaks of obeying spiritual leaders but it is a persuasion not a command and there are conditions as stated in Hebrews 13:7.

-Cornelius

For The Promise Is To You And To Your Children, And To All Who Are Afar Off

One of my favorite verse that I used to share with acquaintances is Acts 2:39.

Acts 2:39, NKJV – 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The Iglesia Ni Cristo teaching about Acts 2:39 is that the promise is given to 3 groups of people:

  1.  to you – Jews
  2. to your children – Gentiles
  3. all who are afar off – INC members

Let us try to explore these 3 groups of people.

(1) To you – The Jews

If you read the whole Acts chapter 2, In Acts 2:22, there is no doubt Apostle Peter is talking to “Men of Israel” and in Acts 2:29 he repeat that saying “Men and brethren,“. In Acts 2:37, the people asking “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”, then Peter replied in verse 38 and 39 regarding repentance, baptism and the group of people who received the promise. There is no doubt Peter was speaking to the Jews which is the first group of people of God.

Who really are the (2) to your children and (3) all who are afar off?

In this article, I will again test the spirit if the teaching is correctly interpreted. Why am I doubting these teachings? Because I have learned in other verses previously about Jews and Gentiles only so far. These are the verses:

Romans 1:16, NKJV – 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Romans 9:24, NKJV – 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Colossians 3:11, NKJV – 11where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Galatians 3:28, NKJV – 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The Greek referred to these verses are the Gentiles. So far all the 4 verses above refers to Jews and Gentiles only. So far only Acts 2:39 mentioned about “to all who are afar off”. Let’s read two Ephesians verses

Ephesians 2:13, NKJV – 28 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:17, NKJV – 28 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.

Now please read the whole Ephesians chapter 2 to really understand the whole context. I copied all text here to emphasize some words.

Ephesians 2, NKJV –

By Grace Through Faith

2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.Brought Near by His Blood

11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Christ Our Peace

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Christ Our Cornerstone

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

emphasis are mine

There are several points to make from Ephesians chapter 2.

  1. Apostle Paul referring to Gentiles (Ep. 2:11)  who are known as “Uncircumcision”  because Jews are required  to be circumcised, before Christ are without covenant (Ep. 2:12) and without promise having no hope and without God. But now (Ep. 2:13) in Christ Jesus you (Gentiles) who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
  2. Christ broken down the middle wall of separation (Ep. 2:14) – meaning no more separation between Jews and Gentiles.
  3. Christ created in Himself one new man from the two (Jews and Gentiles – context of chapter 2), thus making peace (Ep. 2:15). Do you know? In INC doctrine, Ephesians. 2:15 is used followed by Col.1:18 , “And He is the head of the body, the church” to explain that Christ created “Head” (Himself) and the body (Church) as one new man. Another favorite verses I used in a mission.  There is now a problem with this doctrine because Ep. 2:15 Christ created one new man from the two referring in the context of Jews and Gentiles  who became one in Jesus(Gal.  3:28), removing the ordinances of the law (Uncircumcision vs. Circumcision).
    The INC doctrine on Ephesians 2:15 now becomes another theory of equivocation.
  4. The Gentiles are referred to again as from “afar off” in Ep. 2:17.

So far, “to all who are afar off” appear to be referring to the Gentiles not to INC members from the Far East.

Now who are the true “(2) to your children”? The bible referenced several verses regarding Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 1:16, Rom 9:24, Col 3:11, Gal 3:28) and nothing else mentioned about the children.

The reference to “to your children” cannot be the Gentiles just what the INC teaches in order to make a room for the third group who are from “afar off”. Those who are “afar off” in previous verses refers to the Gentiles (The Greeks) who are afar from Jerusalem. Greek (as in Acts 16:1 Acts 16:3 ; 18:17 ; Romans 1:14 ), generally denotes any non-Jewish nations so all of us Christians now are Gentiles.  If  (2) to your children – are Gentiles, and (3) to all who are afar off – are INC members, it would appear all Gentiles died as a result of apostasy or natural death, which is the case what INC teaches.

Since Apostle Peter was speaking to the Jews in Acts 2:39, when he referred “to your children” logically he was referring to the children of the Jews. The children of the Jews cannot be Gentiles because the Gentiles are always non-Jews and come from different place and race.

In conclusion of Acts 2:39, there appear to be only two groups of people as follows

  1.  to you (Jews) and to your children (children of the Jews at that time)
  2.  all who are afar off – The Gentiles or all Christians who are non-Jews from the first century up to present.

This will also put Acts 2:39 to the theory of equivocation.

Another Sheep I have

In John 10:16, Christ said

John 10:16, NKJV – 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

If we break the verse:

  1. other sheep i have – refers to Gentiles
  2. not in this fold – refer to Jews
  3. will be one flock and one shepherd – Christ is the good shepherd (John 10:11) of Christian flock

But the INC break this verse differently

  • other sheep i have – refer INC members who are from “afar of country”
  • not in this fold – refer Jews and Gentiles (to make room for third group from afar off country)
  • will be one flock and one shepherd – Christ is the shepherd, Br. FYM as last messenger, and flock is INC.

Why “not in this fold” the fold refers only to the Jews? Because at times of Christ the Gentiles are not yet converted. Only after Christ died and ascended to heaven. The Gentiles were converted to Christianity as a result of preaching of Saul who became Apostle Paul (Acts 13:9) when Christ is already in heaven. Therefore the “fold” during the time Christ spoken in John 10:16, refers only to Jews who believed in Him.

The interpretation of the INC in John 10:16 is skeptical now. This could be another theory of equivocation but I will leave the judgement on your own understanding.

Before I conclude, I like to write Colossians 1:15-18 because in the INC, when Col. 1:18 is read, it is not read in fullness.

Colossians 1:15-18, NKJV – 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

– Cornelius

 

Calling A Bird Of Prey From The East

This is a very interesting letter from a brother who says regularly read my blog – thank you for that. I am now calling this brother “Cyrus Nogreto” for he is not “Cyrus The Great”. I hope you will enjoy reading for I enjoyed it myself.  It is a little bit long but I guarantee it is full of interesting details.


Dear Brother Cornelius,

Please hide my real name. I am a brother in the Church I will not mention my locale but I live in North America.  I am inspired to write this article about King Cyrus The Great after reading your blog “The Ends of The Earth”. Like you, I think other brethren too, started learning the bible. I also started reading history,  how they relate to bible stories. I believe we have all the right to cross-examine the Church doctrines from the perspective of other religions and history. You are right Bro. Cornelius, you cannot learn what is inside the box if you do not look at it from the outside. Critics of INC claims that the Isaiah verses we are using for Bro. FYM are stolen prophesies of Israel. I am reading history about King Cyrus how he became Cyrus The Great and considered  by United Nation as the first known man to implement human rights. This led me to clarify who exactly is the “bird of prey” mentioned in Isaiah 46:11.

Who is The Bird of Prey?

First, let me also quote the bible on Isaiah 46:11 (NKJV)

Standard of Cyrus

Standard of Cyrus

11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.
Indeed I have spoken it;
I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it;
I will also do it.

In this verse we refer to Bro. FYM as the “bird of prey” and the members of the Church of Christ
“from a far country”. We then connect this verse to other verses to prove we are indeed from afar or “Far East” from the time of the “ends of the earth”. You alluded in your article that the “ends of the earth” is a place not time as we claimed it. If it is a place, the INC doctrines will be debilitated and all the more what I will attempt to explore and share here.

When I continue reading Isaiah 46:11-13 (NKJV), it seems to change the context back to Israel. I know a Minister explained that the “Israel” mentioned in that verse is not the ancient Israel, it refers to the new nation of God in these last days. Hard to debate this kind of argument so let me just continue. Let me quote extended verses again

Isaiah 46:11-13 (NKJV)

11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.
Indeed I have spoken it;
I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it;
I will also do it.
12
“Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted,
Who are far from righteousness:
13
I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off;
My salvation shall not linger.
And I will place salvation in Zion,
For Israel My glory

To my knowledge so far, the old testament is mainly speaking in the context of Israel as the nation of God, the ancient Israel during that time. Let me again quote another bible translation:

Isaiah 46:11-13Living Bible (TLB)
11 I will call that swift bird of prey from the eastthat man Cyrus from far away. And he will come and do my bidding. I have said I would do it and I will. 12 Listen to me, you stubborn, evil men! 13 For I am offering you my deliverance; not in the distant future, but right now! I am ready to save you, and I will restore Jerusalem and Israel, who is my glory.

I know if I ask a Minister regarding TLB translation the answer is: it is a wrong translation that is why we do not use it. You are right brother Cornelius, selective teaching technique made our doctrines sounds perfect. Like Isaiah 43:5-6, some words we picked from Moffat translation and some words we picked from NKJV translations. This method of selective teaching will always be correct if you do not explore it carefully.

Now if we learn about King Cyrus history (read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great), he used the flag of a bird known as “Standard of Cyrus”. Check the reconstructed image ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Standard_of_Cyrus_the_Great_(White).svg) of the actual artifact found from Persepolis. This is one strong proof that there was a man with a “bird” symbol that could be what is referred to as “bird of prey” in the bible.

The man “bird of prey” is also the man who will execute God’s counsel. Isaiah 46:11-13 also mentioned “The man who executes My counsel, from a far country”. So I continue my research if these words indeed can be applied to King Cyrus. What I have discovered is so unquestionably refers to King Cyrus.

Who is King Cyrus The Great?

In short, King Cyrus does not know God but God knows him. He does not belong to the nation of God, Israel, but God declared “He is My shepherd”.

Some facts I have collected from different articles:

Cyrus The Great

Cyrus The Great

  • Birth 600-599 BC, others says 576-575 BC
  • He ruled between 559-530 BC
  • First conquered Median, then Lydian then neo-babylonian empire
  • His legal titles:
    • The Great King,
    • King of Persia,
    • King of Anshan,
    • King of Media,
    • King of Babylon,
    • King of Sumer and Akkad, and
    • King of the Four Corners of the World
  • Founder of the Achaemenid Empire or First Persian Empire
  • Prophesied by Prophet Isaiah Isaiah 44:24-28 200 years before he was born
  • Prophesied by Jeremiah, Ezra, mentioned by Daniel.

Cyrus name was mentioned in the prophesy of Isaiah, the same prophet who wrote “the bird of prey”.

Isaiah 44:24-28 New King James Version (NKJV)
Judah Will Be Restored

24
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
And He who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who makes all things,
Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
25
Who frustrates the signs of the babblers,
And drives diviners mad;
Who turns wise men backward,
And makes their knowledge foolishness;
26
Who confirms the word of His servant,
And performs the counsel of His messengers;
Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’
To the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’
And I will raise up her waste places;
27
Who says to the deep, ‘Be dry!
And I will dry up your rivers’;
28
Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure,
Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,”
And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”’

Hence, Isaiah directs his prophecy toward Israel (Judah and Jerusalem)- Israel addressed to the ten tribes of Israel, who were deported to Assyria—an event Isaiah personally witnessed. The prophecy was fulfilled two centuries later under King Cyrus. He overthrew Babylon and set Judah free.

Noticed in verse 26 how it says “And performs the counsel of His messengers” which described in Isaiah 46:11, “The man who executes My counsel,”. I believe the messengers here refers to the prophets but the man who performs or execute “counsel” is King Cyrus. What is so amazing in Isaiah 44:28 is how powerful and true God is, even mentioned the name of Cyrus 200 years before he was even born. “Cyrus He is my shepherd, ” –  to build Jerusalem through Cyrus the foundation of the temple would be laid.

Another amazing prophesy of King Cyrus is

Isaiah 45:1-10 New King James Version (NKJV)
Cyrus, God’s Instrument

45 “Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:

2
‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places[a] straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.

3
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.

4
For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.

There is no doubt in my mind the “bird of prey” is King Cyrus and the man who will execute His counsel from a far country is also King Cyrus. The far country is Persia not Philippines because again we are looking at the context of the old testament nations. Persia is in the east of Jerusalem.

The Restoration of Jerusalem

King Cyrus of Persia overthrew Babylon two centuries later, and he issued an edict (or decree) that allowed the people of Judah to return to their land. The edict is recorded in Ezra 1:1-4 not the restoration of the Locale of Jerusalem, Israel congregation which was inaugurated by INC Executive Minister in March 1996. First,  Prophet Jeremiah prophesied the fall of Babylon in

Jeremiah 51:60-63 New King James Version (NKJV)

60 So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that would come upon Babylon, all these words that are written against Babylon. 61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, “When you arrive in Babylon and see it, and read all these words, 62 then you shall say, ‘O Lord, You have spoken against this place to cut it off, so that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but it shall be desolate forever.’ 63 Now it shall be, when you have finished reading this book, that you shall tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates.

Ezra 1:1-4New King James Version (NKJV)
End of The Babylonian Captivity

1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,

2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia:
All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. 3 Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.

King Cyrus The First Author of Human Rights

The charter of Cyrus the Great, a baked-clay Aryan language (Old Persian) cuneiform cylinder, was discovered in 1878 in excavation of the site of Babylon. In it, Cyrus the Great described his human treatment of the inhabitants of Babylonia after its conquest by the Iranians. The document has been hailed as the first charter of human rights, and in 1971 the United Nations was published translation of it in all the official U.N. languages.

The discovery of Cyrus Cylinder is a proof of the bible story that King Cyrus allowed people he conquered to practice their religions. This allowed the Israelite to return to Jerusalem and rebuilt God’s temple after centuries of captives by the Babylonian.

Summary

The Israelites had rebelled against God for centuries and he ultimately sent them into captivity for their disobedience. He initially allowed the Assyrians and then the Babylonians to punish his people. Eventually, he decided to allow the Persian people to conquer the Babylonians so that they could rule over his people. God allowed Cyrus the Great to govern his people so that he could send them back to their homelands in order to rebuild their temple and to worship him in truth once again.

Brother Cornelius, have we been fooled in our faith? God bless us all for nothing we desire but to be a good sons and daughters, to be considered God’s people.

Thank you.

-Bro. Cyrus Nogreto


Here is a very short but well narration of Cyrus The Great. Enjoy watching – Cornelius

The Ends Of The Earth

The words “ends of the earth” is very significant to the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC). Since the word “ends” is plural, the Church refers to it as time between the end of the sixth seal and the beginning of the seventh seal. This is further supported by other verses to conclude that the beginning of the seventh seal is 1914. The year is when the first world war broke up in July 27, 1914 (corrected on internet history sites as July 28, 1914, read this related article).

There are two bible verses that I know the Church is using to refer to “ends of the earth”.

Isaiah 41:9-10, NKJV – 9You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you,
‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
10
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isaiah 43:5-6, NKJV – 5 Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; 6I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth

Because other religions do not have the same interpretation as INC members, let us test the spirit.

Doubts on Isaiah 41:9-10

Firstly, on Isaiah 41:9-10, if we read from verse 8 it clearly referring to Israel and it make sense the “you” refers to Israel in both verse 8 and verse 9.

Isaiah 41:8-10, NKJV – 8 “But you, Israel, are My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend.
9You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you,
You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
10
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

It does not make sense Prophet Isaiah is talking about Israel and suddenly taking about INC members who came to exist 3000 years later.  It is Prophet Isaiah himself who prophesied Gentiles from the ends of the earth

Isaiah 49:6, NKJV – 6Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

Prophet Isaiah also identifies “ends of the earth” as one being inhabited by “them” which means it is a place not time. If the “ends of the earth” is time, Isaiah 49:6 refers to Gentiles in the “ends of the earth” then the third group of people from afar off country and the Gentiles came to exist at the same time – which is obviously wrong interpretation.

Isaiah 42:10, NKJV – 6Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise from the ends of the earth,
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
You coastlands and you inhabitants of them!

Inhabitant means ” a person or animal that inhabits a place, especially as a permanent resident”.

Doubts on Isaiah 43:5-6

Secondly, on Isaiah 43:5-6, the Church used Moffat translation when referring to “far east” but Moffat use “end of the earth” which has another meaning in INC terms, it refers to judgement day.

Isaiah 43:5-6, Moffat – 5 From the far east will I bring your offspring, and from the far west I will gather you,6I will bid the north lands give them up, and bid the south let go, bringing my sons from afar, and my daughters from the end of the earth.”

Believing “far east” in Moffat translation but not believing “end of the earth” is skeptical.

Search the http://biblehub.com/isaiah/43-6.htm there are other translations using “ends of the earth” but also “end of the earth”:

  • English Standard Version,
  • JPS Tanakh 1917,
  • American Standard Version,
  • Darby Bible Translation,
  • English Revised Version,
  • Young’s Literal Translation

Other noticeable translations are

  • New Living Translation – “the distant corners of the earth”
  • NET Bible – ” the remote regions of the earth”

Clearly other bible translations translate the “ends of the earth” as a place not time. Check there are at least 25 usage of “ends of the earth” in the bible.

There are so much to learn in the bible. It is not true that it is kept in mystery, that was the thing in the past. If we do not learn it, we could be what is referred to in 2 Timothy 3:7

2 Timothy 3:7, NKJV – 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Even if we have perfect attendance in the worship services twice a week  year in year out, even if we attend bible studies every week, we hear the same lessons over and over again, we will never come to the true knowledge if we do not read and understand the bible in a contextual view.

You can read related article: The INC Doctrine on Ends of The Earth.

Now if the “ends of the earth” is not referring to time but place, what would then be the interpretation for other doctrines of the Church regarding the apparent re-emergence of the Church of Christ in the Philippines in 1914?