Monthly Archives: December 2016

Part 2 – Racing Against The Time In These Last Days

Every members and former members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo believe that we are living in the last days. I think most Christians believe the same thing. This world, this planet earth, will come to an end on the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the judgment day.

Bro. Felix Y Manalo, respectfully, considered as the Messenger of God in these last days.

In this article we will explore the biblical “last days”. The bible is actually referring to the “last days” is the day when our Lord Jesus Christ is still on earth. If from the first century until now we are in the last days, when will the last days end?

The INC teaches that the beginning of the end (“the end” is the last day while the “last days” is the days before the end) started in July 27, 1914 when Bro. Felix registered the Iglesia Ni Cisto church to the Philippine Government, coincide with the outbreak of the World War I. The Church is using Matthew 24:6-8 referring to the wars, rumors of wars, earthquake, hunger and tribulations to support the claim. According to the Church doctrines the first world war is the beginning of the end or “ends of the earth” which is also the same as saying the beginning of the last days.

There is a problem using Matthew 24:6-8 to refer to our time. Jesus actually spoken those words in the context of Jerusalem destruction as He predicted in Matthew 24:2 and as explained in previous articles. The bible already hinted that at the time Jesus Christ is on earth, He is already in the last days.

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) – 1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

The author of the Hebrews is revealing multiple lessons in Hebrew 1:1-2.

He is speaking “in these last days“, the word “these” indicates physically or figuratively near so either they are already living in the last days or is about to come, very near.

In Hebrew 1:1 it says “God who at various times and various ways spoken to us by His Son…” – “spoken to us” meaning delivering a message through a messenger, His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is therefore considered here the messenger of the last days.

Peter says Jesus came during the last days.

1 Peter 1:20 (NKJV) – 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

Paul believed they were living in the end of the age, the Jewish Age, the end of the old covenant.

1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV) – 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

The “last days” therefore is referring to the end of the ages, the end of Jewish age, not the end of the world. The Jewish age ended when Jerusalem was destroyed by Roman armies in the first century as prophesied by Christ in Matthew 23:38, 24:2. The end of the age brought us, Christians to a new covenant. The new covenant is everlasting, it has no end.

Hebrews 13:20(NKJV) – 20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Understanding The “Last Days” From the First Testament

In Genesis 49:1, Jacob was talking to his sons, representing the twelve tribes of Israel.

Genesis 49:1 (NKJV) – 49 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Jacob pronounces what will befall to “you”, clearly the subject is Israel.

Numbers 24:13-14 (NKJV) – 13 If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak? 14 And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.

Isaiah prophesied the last days referring to Judah and Jerusalem.

Isaiah 2:1-2 (NKJV) – 1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days [ last days] That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it.

It is important to know that “Judah and Jerusalem” is often used in the First Testament to refer to the nation of Israel. I learned there are two or three types of usage of “Israel”, the National Israel and the spiritual “chosen” people of Israel. And there is also North Israel where Nazareth and Samaria are located, there is Southern Israel which is often refereed to as “Judah and Jerusalem” or sometimes simply “Jerusalem”.

In Deuteronomy 31:29, Moses referring to “And evil will befall you in the latter days“, the audience “you” in this text are the Moses people, the Israelite or Jews. The Jews are also known as Hebrews or the Israel people.

Deuteronomy 31:29 (NKJV) – 29 For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands.

In the first testament, clearly the last days always refers to the last days of Israel.

Final Thought

As a final though I think it is wrong to use of Matthew 24:6-8 to describe the end of the world is near, that we are racing against the time of the destruction of the world. The “signs” are taken from the context of the destruction of Jerusalem, not the world.

Additional thought: Is Christ really coming back at the last day?

Almost every Christians believe, even if we never heard it from the bible, Christ will come back and that is the end of the world, the judgement day. This is the very day that every member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo are longing for. There are some group of Christians do not believe the world will not end and Christ will not actually coming back.

Let us consider for a moment Jesus was speaking of the end of he world in Matthew 24. In Matthew 24:23-28, Jesus actually hinted us that we should not expect Him and if someone says he is back, do not believe it.

Matthew 24:23-28 (NKJV) – 23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

God says in Genesis, He will not destroy the earth again after the great flood in Noah’s time.

Genesis 8:21-22 (NKJV) – 21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. 22 “While the earth remains, Seed time and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

According to Hebrews 13:20 the new covenant is everlasting. According to Christ in Matthew 24:23-28 if you heard someone saying Christ has come do not believe it. According to Genesis 8:21-22 God will not destroy the world again. Is the world really going to end?

Something for you to think….

-Cornelius

It is Christmas Time Again

It is Christmas time again! A time when people are busy shopping for themselves and for someone they care about.

For Iglesia Ni Cristo members, Christmas, which is celebrated by majority of Christians (and even non-Christians) every Dec 25th of the year, is a pagan festival. History convincingly shows that December 25 was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Christ was born on that day but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun. The Roman Catholics decided to “Christianize” that pagan holiday starting in 336 A.D. as a celebration of the birth of Christ.

Today in our generations, Christmas is celebrated in a commercialized way. People patronized Santa Claus more than the birth of Christ. Many Christians and non-Christians though, celebrate Christmas in the spirit of love and giving. I think that is the power of the Christmas in our time. Most Christians do not even know that Dec 25 originally came from a pagan festival. In my humble opinion it does not matter anymore. God commanded us not to worship other gods, that is not the case for celebrating Christmas in our time. To celebrate or not celebrate the birth of Christ I think is not really in the bible.

For many many years of being a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, I did not celebrate Christmas. I thought I missed a lot of the spirit of loving and giving.

If every celebrations is to be avoided because of pagan origin, people should not celebrate birthday at all. If you are religiously denying the spirit of love and giving during Christmas because of pagan’s origin, you are also guilty of pagan practices which is also a sin for celebrating your own birthday. How much more if you are a leader of a Church or an organization and you let your people celebrate your birthday?

The Birthday and the Bible

Birthday celebrations are mentioned in the Bible in a terrible event.

The first account is in Genesis. Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, celebrated his birthday by executing his chief baker (Gen. 40:1-23). God gave Joseph special understanding of a dream by Pharaoh’s butler and baker, that the baker would lose his life three days after Joseph interpreted the dream. Joseph understood that Pharaoh would use this occasion—his own birthday party—to put his baker to death. As the dream had foretold, the baker was hung at the party. Notice! This was a birthday party, nothing less! It was being observed by a pagan Egyptian Pharaoh — not a man of God.

In the New Testament, King Herod reluctantly ordered the beheading of John the Baptist (Matt. 14:3-11). In Matthew 14:6: “But when Herod’s birthday was kept…” During the dancing and merry-making at his birthday party, Herod got carried away and eventually made a promise that he did not want to keep. As a result, a great servant of God lost his life.

In Job 1:4:went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them”. These parties were obviously not centered around any kind of celebration related to God, or Job would not have worried that his children may have sinned during these celebration feasts. He was not exactly sure what was going on in their minds, but the very celebration of their birthdays triggered great concern in him, Job 1:5, When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.

Christmas In the Spirit of Christ

In Matthew 1:21And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

The coming of Christ means “God with us“. He gave us access to God so that He will save us from our sins. In Matthew 1:21 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”

God has given us a gift of eternal life. In Romans 6:23 (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:16 (NKJV) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

2 Corinthians 9:15 (NKJV) “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

God has a gift to us. A gift is not something you worked for, it is not something that you deserve because of your tireless effort performing sacrifices and duties in the Church. A gift is something you received out of love from someone, not because you desire for it or you sweat for it. Apostle Paul said your salvation is a gift from God not by your work [that includes your time and efforts performing church duties] so that you cannot use these works to justify your salvation.

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

Most people do not know the gift of God is irremovable. In Romans 11:29 (NKJV), “29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. This clearly tell us that no man in this world can remove the gift of salvation given to us. Even if someone believe he has been given power to expel individuals from the Church membership, it cannot override God’s decision that his gift is irrevocable. God is always sovereign than man.

Let us then celebrate Christ in the spirit of God’s gift of the everlasting life. Let us celebrate love and act of giving in the spirit of Christ.

Merry Christmas
-Cornelius

 

He Who Endures Till The End

Another year is passing and new year is coming again. Another year of enduring the sacrifices for all the Church activities, the time you lost for yourself, your family, the many thanksgiving that you offered in the Church, the more giving for the coming year is already starting in a few weeks. Some of you don’t even know how to pay for your debt, yet you try your best out of faith to set aside something you can offer in the Church.

You are probably continuously being reminded of Matthew 24:13. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.. Now let me give you a different perspective so I hope you will continue reading.

Read Matthew 24 from the beginning. The whole context is about Jerusalem Temple and the Jews. Matthew 24:1-2: Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.. Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem temple and the end of the age. If you are reading King James Version of the bible, the Apostles question is referring to the “end of the world”. This has been corrected by most of the new bible versions. Matthew 24:3 (NKJV): 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?. The Apostles are asking questions in the context of Jesus prediction on the Jerusalem Temple. When they as when is the end of the age, they are not asking the end of the world.

If you continue reading to verse 12, the “enduring” is not about enduring inside the Church, it is enduring the tribulations (verse 9), betrayal and hatred (verse 10), false prophets deceiving many (verse 11) and lawlessness (verse 12) which are all associated to the destruction of Jerusalem prophesied by Christ in verse 2. That is all the Matthew 24 is all about. Let us now read verse 13-14.

Matthew 24:13-14 (NKJV): 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come..

These verses are in sequence of events. The enduring will be followed by preaching of the gospel of the kingdom in all the world then then the end [of the age] will come. The enduring is not for us [our time so that we will be saved] because the gospel has already reached the world even in time of the Apostles. Colossians 1:5-6 (NKJV):because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;. Again this is confirmed in Colossians 1:23 (NKJV) if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Think about our time, do you think the bible has not reached all the world? The “enduring” is what will befall to Jerusalem and its people which has already happened in the first century. According to some references, the book of Collosians was written possibly in 80 A.D., 10 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore the “enduring” in Matthew 24:13 is a thing of the past. It is history to us.

Ephesians 2:8-9 explained that you cannot boast for your work [your sacrifices] to justify your salvation. If you do not believe to this verse, then do you believe the bible? Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast”.. The gift of God cannot be taken by anyone. In Romans 11:29 (NKJV), “29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. This clearly tell us that no man in this world can remove the gift of salvation given to us, regardless if someone believe he has been given power to expel individuals from the Church membership, it cannot override God’s decision that his gift is irrevocable. God is always sovereign than man.

-Cornelius