Text: Titus 2:1-8

A Sound Christian Living (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Background:

One of Paul’s main concerns was the false teachers teaching a different gospel. Either they are teaching a false doctrine or mixing their doctrine with their former mystical or traditional superstitions. Titus was assigned to Crete to oversee the churches in different towns. He was told to assign elders to advance and support the expansion of the kingdom of God.

Main Idea:

Many say doctrine is sooooo important—yet they do not live in accordance with what they believe. Others say doctrine is not important as long as we show our love to one another. But according to our passage: (Main point) Right Doctrine leads to Right Behavior.

Right doctrine and right behavior correlate with one another. Each is important. Each one is vital to Christianity. The next question is how to achieve these goals?

Reading the verses from 2 focuses on men. Verses 3-5, focuses on women. Lastly, verses 6-8, points to the younger generation. Here, we see that churches during that time were already a mixed-age congregation. There are adult men, adult women, young adults, and young people.

Fathers, as stated, you are to model self-control, love, steadfastness, and sound faith. Can we see these in your life? If yes, praise God. If not, strive harder. We need you to model these qualities so we can learn and conform to these teachings.

Mothers, older women, as stated, you are called to model Christian living. Not just in actions, but also with your words. Not slanderers, but the truths about Christ. Teach them to love as well. Love your family so they will also love their family in the future.

Also, young people, youth listen. Respect the adults. Honor your parents. As stated, learn from these people. They may be a well-spring of wisdom coming to the fount of Christ. There are many things that you can learn from them. Practical life lessons. Do not just spend time playing and doing social media. Start scheduling sessions with the adults. You can talk to them personally. Learn from their mistakes and failures.

Amidst this fallen world, let us exemplify integrity, dignity, sound speech, and model good works. Why? Because if we cannot see any difference from people who live outside Christianity with us, then nothing is attractive with our relationship with the Lord.

Application:

Live a sound Christian life. Meaning, do not say that you believe this, then you live your life in a different way. If you are kind here in our church, you should also be kind outside. If you are generous with your friends, then you should also be generous when it comes to your tithes and offerings.

Do not live a double life. Who or what you are in your home should also be who or what you are with your friends, workplace, or even here at the church. Again, you are not a secret agent who needs to hide your identity. You do not have multiple identities. If you are a Christian, your identity is in Christ.

Do not hide your weaknesses, vices, and hidden sins. It will and will later manifest. We are all wretched and corrupted. Indeed, the church is a hospital for sick people. Yet likewise, you go to hospitals to get well. Christ does not want us to stay sick, let us be well in the Spirit. Live a sound life.

 

Ptr John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
September 19, 2021

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

 

 

 

Text: Titus 1:5-16

Fulfilling the Unfinished Task (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Background:

Just by reading verse 4 of Titus chap 1, we can see that this letter was written for Titus by Apostle Paul (v1).
Titus had been with Paul many times. First, during the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15; Gal. 1-2). Second, from Ephesus, he was sent to Corinth (2 Cor. 8:6, 16-17). Third, they met again in Philippi—then returned to Corinth. Fourth, he was assigned to Crete. Fifth, asked to meet Paul in Nicopolis (Western Greece). And lastly, he was tasked to go to Dalmatia (Montenegro/ Yugoslavia).

Titus exemplified what a true follower of Christ must be. The same with Timothy, Paul told them that a Christian must teach others also so that they can also share the gospel of Christ (2 Timothy 2:2).

Main Idea:

Reading our passage, there are two things that Apostle Paul commanded Titus to do in Crete. These are the very purpose of his stay in Crete. Let us read verse 5:

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.

Two things: first, “to put in order what was left unfinished;” second is to appoint elders. First one: there is unfinished business in the lives of Christians. There’s something missing, something lacking that each of us must long for. We are not perfect nor in a glorified state of life. Hence, the need of putting things in order in our lives through discipleship, prayer, and growing intimacy with our Lord and Savior.

Second task: appoint elders. Now, in here, I might challenge some of the existing views that some of you might have. In 1 Timothy 3, Acts 6, and even here in Titus 1:5, it clearly states that we appoint elders. It does not say, ballot boxes nor election, nor pushing someone to be an elder. But by appointment. This has been the practice of the early NT church, so as we.

Examples of Gospel myth:

(1) Extreme Positive thinking similar to the Prosperity gospel
(2) The myth that you can be saved by your own work
(3) The contrast is also true. Not attending church services, nor Bible study, fellowships are just fine since I am already saved.
(4) Those who say that the Bible is not the word of God are another danger.
(5) Others would say that Jesus Christ is a mere man, a great teacher but not God. (6) The Spirit is just a force and not another person of the Trinity.
(7) Last myth, Pluralism. Pluralism says that we can find salvation or know God through any world religion.

Three Directions:

  1. Deep Worship
    1. Preaching
    2. Prayer
  2. Deep Discipleship
    1. Studying the Word
      i. “Encourage others by sound doctrine” v9a
      ii. Defend the truth: “refute those who oppose it” v9b
      iii. “Rebuke them sharply” v13
    2. Transforming Lives
      i. Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
      ii. We conform to the Elders as they conform to Christ. They are our spiritual models. Hence the need for higher qualities of being a follower of Christ.
  3. Deep Evangelism and Missions
    1. The purpose of Paul sending Titus to Crete is the advancement of the gospel of Christ. The church is more than a mere institution, but we should be missional.
    2. We are not doing it right if we are just focused on the things about ourselves and not longing for the expansion of God’s Word.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
September 12, 2021

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

 

 

Text: Philippians 1:12-24

Selflessness, Self-Denial, and the Supremacy of Christ (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Endowment Effect or Psychological ownership is a theory that observes the sense of a person’s valuing his or her own possession. This theory has been traced since the time of the Ancient Philosopher Aristotle; he said, “For most things are differently valued by those who have them and by those who wish to get them: what belongs to us, and what we give away, always seems very precious to us.”

But because of the delicate heart that we have, this thought of owning something, making ourselves the center of everything for selfish gains, and entitlement has been a product of a marred view of self-identity, value, and purpose. We just want to put ourselves first. Just as how pop culture portrays and promotes self-love. I mean there is nothing wrong about loving yourself and valuing your life but as a Christian, I think—and biblically speaking, God calls us to go beyond this state.

Background:

Looking back, our passage today in the book of Philippians is a letter of encouragement. Hearing that, it seems that there is nothing special with it. Well… Not unless we see it from the perspective of where he wrote this letter. He wrote this letter in prison. Yes, he was in the moment of his imprisonment when he wrote this letter of encouragement. To add, he actually said “joy” or “rejoice” almost twenty times (16 times to be exact); reminding them about their joy in Christ and to rejoice despite the circumstances and hardships of life.

Main Idea:

Selflessness: To Advance the Gospel of Christ

Despite the status of Paul being imprisoned, he made sure that it is not about himself, or his situation that will be seen but rather how God—in providence—is in control of everything.

Again, even amid that gloomy atmosphere, compared with today’s prisons, prisons during the time of Paul are messier, more miserable, and chaotic. But look at how Paul perceived this kind of situation in his life. In verses 12-14, Paul did not think about himself nor his state but rather the glorious news that the Gospel of Christ is being advanced even inside his prison. The guards were hearing about Christ. This was not the only case that Paul acted in this manner.

Self-denial: To Live and Die for Christ

As Christians, we do celebrate their lives because we know they are already in heaven and experiencing the ultimate joy that we all wait for. Like Paul, being beaten, imprisoned, and mocked—he has longed to “die” and be with Christ because it will be a greater favor for him. Richard Sibbes noted this attitude as breathtaking; he said, “[Paul] knows that Christ is wiser than he; therefore he resigns himself to his disposal, resolving if he lives, he lives to the Lord, and if he dies, he dies to the Lord (Rom 14:8); that so, whether he live or die, he may be the Lord’s.” (read 19-22)

Why did I say that my second point is self-denial? Look at verses 23-24, “I am hard-pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

Paul desired to be with Christ soon because it will be a greater favor but he gave up his will and submitted to the plans of God. Submit your will to God. Listen and pray, be prudent, participate in it.

Supremacy of Christ

With all these characters portrayed by Paul, where did he learn these things? The answer is Jesus Christ. Paul started and ended in this passage making the glory of Christ the core reason (11, 26). Why Jesus? Did Christ demonstrate selflessness and self-denial?

1. Christ emptied himself (kenosis) – Philippians 2:1-11
2. Christ was willing to give up his life for his friend. – 1 John 3:16; John 10:17-18
3. Christ submitted to the will of the Father rather than His will. – Luke 22:42-45
4. Christ suffered for the sake of our salvation.

a. The Suffering Servant – Isaiah 53
b. Scourged – Matt. 27:26
c. Beaten – Luke 22:63-64
d. Spit upon – Matt. 27:30
e. Beard Plucked from His Face – Isaiah 50:6
f. Mocked – Matt. 27:26-29
g. Stripped Naked – Matt. 27:35
h. Nailed to the Cross – Matt. 27:38; John 20:25

Conclusion:

Learning today, the attitude of Paul both the selflessness and self-denial were all motivated and driven by the supremacy of Christ in his life. If only we really let Christ sit on the thrones of our hearts; if only we can put Christ and others first in our deeds; if only we think less of ourselves and think more about the interests of others, only then, we can truly experience true eternal joy in our hearts.

There is joy in submission; there is joy in putting others first; there is so much joy in having Christ and letting Him govern your life. Let us pray

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
August 29, 2021

 

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

 

 

 

Text: John 8:31-38

Freedom in Christ: True Liberation (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Freedom today is reduced to a mere memorial. A term that can be easily mistaken with “independence,” “rights,” or to do something you want to do. This shallow view of freedom is a complacent perspective in living a life freed and redeemed by Christ.

Let me give a definition of what Freedom is. Freedom is to do what we ought to do. What we must do as a follower of Christ. It calls beyond the thought of doing what I want to do, instead, I will do what I must do.

Background:

In the context of Second Temple Judaism or when the Jewish people wait upon the coming of the Messiah, they have the perspective that they will be freed once he arrives. Freedom from what? We know that during the first century, the Jews are under the government of Rome and were influenced by the culture of the Greeks.

Similarly, in today’s context, it is easy for Christians to view freedom with liberation from poverty, government oppression, corruption, and embrace the idea of progress towards human perfection. I mean, several of these ideas are not wrong, but focusing too much on these physical matters clouds our mind to the real and true purpose of freedom.

Main Idea:

In our passage, Christ told those who believed in him that the only way to be freed is to abide in His words because the truth sets a person free. Not by any might nor any effort but only through Christ.

I. Freedom in Truth

We know that Jesus is the Truth Personified in John 14:6. Indeed, the truth sets us free. This claim of Christ makes us realize that we now ought to live a life freed from the imprisonment of lies. Lies, conceit, entitlement, pride, bitterness, and guilt all come together. This burdens a person and traps you. It shackles us to move forward and enjoy life.

Lying not only entraps and gives us a heavy burden but also makes us a devil family.
There are only two options here, being a child of God in Truth or a child of the devil in Lies.

“Do not lie” is one of the ten commandments. Liars do not have a place in heaven, Revelation 22:15 states, “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

II. Freedom from the Bondage of Sin

The following verses 34-36 point that all sinners are bound to sin. We all choose to sin; actually, no. Before being a Christian, you do not have a choice (Eph. 2:1). It is in your nature to sin. Because your heart itself is filled with sin. Romans 3:10, 23. Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.”

Meaning, those who are in Christ have now the power through the Spirit to overcome sin and fight against it. You are no longer a slave to sin. In our passage, you are now freed from the bondage of sin. We do still commit sin, but this does not trap us nor make us followers of it. We can now say “NO” to it, repent, and mortify it. Romans 6:22, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

Again, now that we are freed from the slavery of sin, we are called to mortify sin. Read Colossians 3:5-11.

Conclusion:

As I conclude let me read this short prayer of St. Augustine. Augustine of Hippo struggled from lust, fleshly desires, and pride. Yet he was aware of his sins and other sins. He prayed: “Look with mercy on these follies, Lord, and set us free who already call upon you. Set free those also who do not yet call upon you, so that they may invoke you and you may give them freedom” (Confessions, 14).

Who can change a sinner’s heart? Only the one who was proclaimed in the book of Isaiah as the suffering servant who bears the Spirit of God, ought to deliver sinners from their sins and redeem them for his eternal glory, Jesus the Christ.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
August 15, 2021

 

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

Photo by Travis Saylor on Pexels.com

 

 

Text: Matthew 5:43-48

Dissenters Among the Age of #Trending (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

In the 1600s, Baptists (especially the English Baptists in the late seventeenth century) is known for their dissenting spirit (not just for the sake of “to dissent”). Baptists fought for religious freedom amid denominational control and State religion. Baptists advanced the biblical baptism even the entire Christian world sought pedobaptism (or infant baptism).

Where did the Baptist get this thought of dissenting? Knowing that Baptists later became known as the “people of the book (Bible)”, we mainly based our faith and practices on the authority of the Word of God. If the culture says this, we check and analyze if the Bible says so too or not. If not in the Bible, is it regulative or normative? Will this conflict with our goal to become more like Christ? If not, then we explore and make sure that everything we do ought to glorify God.

Main Idea:

There are many things in this world that we need to critically study when it comes to cultural trends. But, as Christians, we are not called to expose or explore the deeper meaning or reasons behind it. Let us leave that to the scholars and academic institutions. Instead, we are called to dig deeper in the Word of God, and from there we apply it in our lives as Christian lenses for our individual perspective. To this thought of having the same perspective in Christ, we become one as the body of Christ.

In verse 43 of Matthew 5, you will see the idea of a contrasting perspective as early as our first verse. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said.” The following statement is a heavy claim that the world teaches “to hate your enemy.” None in the Bible teaches to hate your enemy. Hate is strong word and Christians were never told to hate anyone or anything unless sin.

Verse 44, Dissenting from the previous cultural ideology, Christ calls for a kind of attitude that is not prominent in this world. This love—known as the agape love—is unconditional and knows no ifs or buts. Indeed, as stated also in verse 46, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” It is easy to love those who meet our expectations or those who love us back or those who benefited us. But as Christ rhetorically asked, “what’s the distinction of being a Christian if we are just doing what others have been doing?”

There is a greater love than how the world teaches us to love. The pop culture, the Netflix culture, the anime, the social media world teach us a cultural trend kind of life. But as Christians, our love towards others must not be tainted by any prejudice, discrimination. Our love even towards our enemies is not optional nor selective.

The following statement in verse 44, going back, “pray for those who persecute you.” Ohhhhh it is already difficult to love our enemies, now this? Pray for those people who persecute me? Pray for them? Why would I?

Again, praying for those who offended us is not easy, but is a-must thing to do for a Christian. Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. In this manner, we can exemplify grace and show our Christian love because God told us so and God set it so.

Ultimately, in verse 47, “Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Why would other people desire our Christian living if they can only see the same as how the world live their lives? What makes it different being a Christian, if I can also drink as much as I want, do vices, watch pornography, lust others, satisfy my fleshly desires, and prioritize money, successes, and fame?

This is the problem. If the world does not see churches, Christians as the salt and light of the world, then no one will ever desire to be a Christian. Brothers and sisters, exemplify Christ in your lives. Manifest grace, mercy, compassion, and love; pray for those people whom you do not see worthy of praying.

Conclusion:

The imperative statement, in verse 48, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The term perfect there in Greek is teleios [τελείως], this means complete, whole, same as shalom [or peace] in Hebrew.

Our completeness or having a fulfilled or maginhawang buhay is not achieved by the worldly definition, examples, nor lifestyle. But rather, we can achieve this if we focus our eyes on Christ, live like Christ, and obey His words.

We dissent from worldly ideas not just for the sake of dissenting but for the sake of glorifying God in Christ through the Spirit’s divine wisdom.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
August 1, 2021

 

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

 

 

Text: Colossians 4:2-4

Devote Yourselves to Prayer (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

I will be direct! Prayerlessness invades churches nowadays. Too much confidence in ourselves, extreme pragmatism, and indifference. “Prayerlessness is spiritual suicide.”

Why do we ignore prayer, forgetting, or not prioritizing it? In fact, when Paul reminded the church about putting on the full armor in Ephesians 6:10-20, he emphasized at the last part the importance of prayer. Which is alongside the sword—God’s Word—enclothed with the Spirit of God through prayer. You cannot fight the battles in this world without prayer.

Main Idea:

As said, prayer is a spiritual condition: “Tell me who your friends are; I will tell you who you are.” But for Christians, tell me about your prayer life and I will tell you what kind of Christian you are. Prayer life is like a mirror, it reflects one’s spiritual shape. Do you just pray because you are told to do so? “Prayer is oxygen for the Christians (John Onwuchekwa).” When you do not pray, you feel weak, exhausted, and feel like giving up. Why are you exhausted today? Why are you sleepy right now? Check again, maybe because you have not prayed that today will be all for Christ because today is Lord’s Day.

“Continue (ESV)” or “Devote (NASB)” – meaning, “to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty.”

What hinders our prayer? 1. Lack of faith (James 5:14-15; prayer flows from faith, only those who have the gift of faith can enjoy prayer.); 2. Cherishing Sin (Psalm 66:18, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”); and 3. Unforgiving Heart (Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that the Father in heaven may forgive your sins.”; Matthew 5:23-24).

Other than prayer as a spiritual condition; it is also our spiritual celebration. Hence, we are called to always have an attitude of thanksgiving. Having a grateful heart is a sign of contentment. A sign of humility. Signifies our recognition of God’s authority, power, and rule over our lives.
Every time we have a celebration, we are excited because we know there will be food, fellowship, fun time, and more. This should be our attitude too, despite the struggles of life, we still have someone willing to listen to us, talk with us, and walk with us.

Celebration is not merely just having some fun time, but more of observance. We pray because we would like to remember what Christ had done for us; what God has planned for us; and what the Holy Spirit is still doing for us.

Lastly, prayer points to an end, this is our spiritual motivation. The goal of prayer is more than just what we need, but we take part in God’s kingdom call. We pray for God’s Word to be shared with others.

But the problem most of the time is that we are motivated not because of God’s plan, but because of our personal agenda. We pray because beneath our hearts we want something in return. We pray and try to manipulate God with our own plan.

Then if God did not answer your prayer, you will blame him and tell God that you prayed so hard for this and that but how come He did not answer you. If this, is you, stop blackmailing God. Do not pray and twist God’s arm, that is not possible.

Many churches—or individual Christians—treat prayer as a prescription rather than a life support system. It is not something that you only do when you need something like a vending machine. No. Prayer is an essential part of Christian life for breathing, living, and walking.

Conclusion:

Why pray? Because Jesus prayed. When they asked God, the disciples did not ask God to teach them how to preach; they did not ask God to teach them how to cook, play instruments, or heal; but they ask God to teach them how to PRAY.

Why did they ask Christ to teach them to pray? Because they know Christ as the one who models prayer in His life. We do not ask a person who does not know a thing about what you want to learn. Youth goes to Sebi because he is good at chemistry. We go to Miguel because he is good at music. We go to Jon C, Kuya JR, and more because we know they can advise us about the matters of the church.

The apostles ask Christ because He is an expert on prayer. Christ is the ultimate model of prayer. Christ is indeed the foundation of prayer.

  • Choosing the Twelve Apostles
  • Raising Lazarus – John 11:41-42
  • Feeding the 5, 000
  • Transfiguration
  • At the cross (Luke 23:34

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
July 18, 2021

 

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

 

 

Text: Acts 6:1-7

Church Deacons: Serving the Servants of God (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Nowadays, serving is not seen as a noble task. Most of us, if not entitled, want to be served. We want others to do the sweeping of the floor, the washing of the dishes, the cleaning of the yard, and so on.

Background:

Same with our sermon last week about Church Elders, Deacons were also present in the early church as stated in our passage in the book of Acts. Furthermore, in Philippians 1:1 (“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons”) and Romans 16:1 (Phoebe), Paul recognized the deacons at those churches.

But when did the church begin choosing deacons? The answer is in our main passage today. Examining the passage one by one, we can see in verse 1 that the church that started in Chapter 2 of Acts is already growing; “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number.” Now that is good news. We all want to have a growing church. But usually, it is not always good things that come along with this growth. There are also conflicts.

Main Idea:

In verses 2-3, the apostles convened for a meeting and choosing of the seven as the first deacons of the church. Now, we should be careful about this. The motivation of choosing the seven is not just for the sake of the distribution for the widows. But clearly, in verse 2, it is for the apostles to not give up preaching the word of God to serve tables or the giving ministry.
Brothers and sisters, we may lack or fail with a lot of fellowship, activities, and other ministries. But a true biblical church cannot exist without faithful preaching of the Word of God. The main reason why we have Preaching Elder or Pastor is for this supreme goal—the proclamation of God’s Word in the church. Even Paul reiterated this priority in 1 Corinthians 15:3, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.”

First point: Submission to Christ is necessary. It means that a deacon is a mature Christian; not a recent convert and shows Christ-like character. Why? As stated in our bulletin today. Christ is the ultimate example when it comes to the serving. He is the suffering servant who redeemed us as stated in the prophecy of Isaiah. Likewise, we are called Christians because we ought to conform to the likeness of Christ.

Second point: Serves the church. The Greek word for deacon is “diakonos.” This term literally means to serve at the table as a waiter or server. But hear this out, biblical diakonos means servanthood. To serve is not mere serving but becoming a servant of Christ for the church.

Last point: supports the Elders. Deacons are not pseudo-leaders but servers. A misconception that deacons are the one who decides or directs the affairs of the church. Indeed, they can be a guide or support, but they do not take the lead for the sake of leading.

Woman deacon? Luke 10:40 (Martha); Luke 8:1-3 (women helping Jesus and the twelve in the ministry); and Romans 16:1 (Phoebe); even 1 Timothy 5 speaks about older widows, women, to serve in the church accompanying the necessary character qualifications.

Again, deacons are distinct from elders but inseparable. Alexander Strauch noted, “the diakonoi operate under the leadership of the episkopoi [overseers].” But “elders alone are identified to oversee (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim 3:1-2, 5:17; 1 Pet. 5:2; Heb 13:17). “Elders lead ministry; deacons facilitated ministry, and the congregation does ministry.”

Conclusion:

Let us check the last verse of our passage, in verse 7. It bears a wonderful picture of a healthy, glorious, and wondrous church. Because of keeping the Word of God central in the church, alongside the faithful choosing of the seven deacons, the church grew in numbers; they multiplied, and many became obedient to the Christian faith.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
July 11, 2021

 

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

 

 

Text: Acts 14:21-28

Biblical Eldership (Full Sermon Manuscript Download)

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Introduction:

Jonathan Griffiths said, “The office of eldership is given in Scripture to provide spiritual nurture and protection for the church. Elders are to shepherd the flock of Jesus Christ through the faithful ministry of the Word and are to lead by godly example.”

Background:

This is Paul’s first missionary journey with Barnabas. After struggling much with these places: Cyprus, Lycia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (these are all in Modern day Turkey [former Galacia]), Paul made sure that they appointed elders in these places to preserve and keep the faith of churches in these places. Which Paul revisited and affirmed the significance of their works.

Main Idea:

1. Conforming to the NT Church

When I was asked to fill up the application form as the interim pastor of UCBC, in the section where I was asked about my view of church administration, I wrote (verbatim): “In the context of the Church administration, I believe in the biblical principle of congregationalism with the plurality of elders.”

Indeed, the plurality of elders is biblical (James 5:14 [Elders to pray for the sick]; 1 Timothy 5:17 [“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”]; Titus 1:5 [Paul telling Titus to appoint elders]; Acts 14:23 [Paul and Barnabas appointing elders].

Observing how the Bible speaks about the “elders,” it is always in a plural form. It presents us that plurality of elders is normal in the New Testament church. That is our first point. If our church ought to follow the Scriptural New Testament Church, then we ought to follow the plurality of the “elders.”

2. Commanded by God in Scriptures

Similarly, God has commanded us in His Word to appoint leaders. In Titus 1:5-9, v.5 only, “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint[a] elders in every town, as I directed you.” Also, in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and in our passage Acts 14 verse 23.

Interchangeable: “The terms πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros), ποιμήν (poimen), and ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos) are all used to describe the same office in the New Testament. Overseers, pastors, shepherds, and elders are all operating as the same kind of servant leader(s) of the church.” (Costi Hinn)

Titus 1:5-9, presbuteros in v5; episkopos in v7; and Ephesians 4:11, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.” (Granville Sharp Rule)

3. Commissions/Calls Elders: Who appoints elders?

The church through the Holy Spirit. In Acts 20:28, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” This is Paul’s farewell to the elders in Ephesus (v. 17).

Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit that calls a person to Eldership. But this is achieved through the church. That is why we have to affirm the appointees or “nominated” to the Eldership position. Now, I know I am a young pastor, but I have seen the dirtiest parts of different churches. When we nominate or appoint an Elder or Deacon, we give out their names because we know the person is really deserving of it.

To give some functions of the Elders:

  1. They are the spiritual leaders and models (1 Peter 5:3)
  2. Teacher/ preachers of the Word (1 Tim 3:2; 2 Tim 4:2; Titus 1:9)
  3. Caring for the souls (Heb 13:17)
  4. Protects the church from false teachings (Acts 20:28-31)
  5. Models Unity (Eph. 4:3, 11-13)

Conclusion:

After exploring the biblical significance of plurality of elders, congregationalism, and elder-led church, we ought to learn more about the matters of functions or roles, qualifications, and other important stuff. I am aware that many of you have learned this before. But being reminded and reviewing it and allowing ourselves to learn from God’s Word again exemplifies the willingness and purity of hearts toward the health of our church—UCBC.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
July 4, 2021

 

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

 

 

 

 

Text: Genesis 17:9-14; Ezekiel 36:26-27

A Covenant Heart (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Human hearts are the core of our life. It is the essential part of the body as they say (you can read more about this on our bulletin program.) For today, we will learn the two realities of having a covenant (or renewed) heart, specifically, the new covenant heart.

Main Idea:

In our passage, the picture of circumcision is a mere covenant sign. Example: God made a covenant sign of rainbow with Noah and the whole creation. But the rainbow itself does not bear the promise. It only expresses the promise of life preservation. In the same way, the circumcision itself is not the promise but rather it only represents something beneath and more important.

Hence, my first point of having a “renewed” heart, The Internal Reality.

Circumcision of the flesh is just a surface level. What really matters is the one that goes beyond our eyes—the heart. Obeying, keeping God’s covenant signifies humility, submission, and devotion to God. Hence, we do not merely focus on the external rite, but the inner reality of the sign.

So, when Abraham and his descendants enacted the circumcision proper. It is not only because it is traditional but because it is their expression of devotion, full obedience, and submission to God’s authority. By keeping the sign, they are yielding to God’s order. Acknowledging His power. Depending on God’s word.

Going back, another reality of having a renewed heart is the External Reality. A renewed, or covenant heart, is a heart that is transformed—and continuously being transformed by God by the Holy Spirit.

Linking with the point we have a while ago, what matters is the inner part, so in Romans 2:29, Paul contended for the circumcision of the heart; “No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”

Indeed, by the Spirit, we can do it. Let the Spirit work in our lives and drives us to live righteously and even to speak Life. What do I mean by SpeakLIFE? As our application, as Christians, we know that words are powerful. So, we share these powerful words with other people to encourage them, bring hope.

1. Speak Love – We know that the ultimate love, the very source of love, is Christ. A person cannot fully and genuinely love apart from God (1 John 4:7-9).

2. Speak the Inspired Word of God – Share God’s Word. Meditate upon the Bible. While reading, it is inseparable to also pause and pray God’s Word. Pick up a word, or a thought from your devotion and start praying using that word or idea. This helps us break our repetitive prayer.

3. Speak Your Faith – stand firm and be proud. Just as what Paul said in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

4. Speak about the Eternal Joy in Heaven – let us be excited about this matter. This is our ultimate hope—the Christian telos, eschatological hope. Seeing the church worship God, follow God, and fellowship with one another is already a glimpse of heaven. But we ought to share this eternal joy and ultimate to all people. Let us evangelize, make disciples, and plant churches.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
June 27, 2021

 

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.

 

 

Text: Genesis 35:28-29; John 14:8-11

Godly Portraits of Fatherhood (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Today, we will learn how God designed the calling of fatherhood through three father stories namely Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Why these people? Of course, because we have been exploring the book of Genesis for a month. Other than that, the faith of Christianity in the NT is usually linked with these three patriarchs.

The next point will show how human fathers cannot fully adhere or conform to God’s design of fatherhood. Same with these three stories, they all failed, with flaws, shortcomings, and imperfect. Indeed, same with everyone, fathers need redemption from this corruption. The last point is Christological. It points to Christ as the mediator for human fathers to be able to grasp and be transformed into biblical and godly portraits of fatherhood.

Main Idea:

  1. God’s Design of Fatherhood based on the Tri-fold narrative.

We all know the story in Genesis 12 how God called Abraham to become a father of—not just a great nation—but of many nations too. Surveying Genesis 22, we will see God’s delight in how Abraham portrayed his selflessness, righteousness, and faithfulness to God.

Fathers ought to portray the same characteristics: selflessness, righteousness, and faithfulness.

Moving forward, in Isaac’s story in Genesis 28:1-4, we will see mercy, compassion, and even grace in this narrative. How? Remember that Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. Jacob lied to his father Isaac and even deceived him which was tolerated and planned by his mother Rebekah. Still, in Genesis 28 (read), Isaac blessed Jacob and even reaffirmed God’s promise to Abraham and him extending it to Jacob’s future lineage.

Fathers ought to portray the same characteristics: mercy, compassion, and grace.

Lastly, in the story of Jacob and Joseph, knowing how Joseph struggled for most of his days. He was persecuted, left behind, imprisoned, and sold. Despite the adversities, Joseph chose to forgive. But in the story where Jacob is the father, he portrayed humility in Genesis 45:8 and 46:28-30. Indeed, Fathers ought to do the same.

2. Corruption of the Design of Fatherhood.

We all know that due to sin. These fathers are imperfect. (Tell their imperfections).

Reflection: Fathers need to show their imperfection; you are not perfect. You are not a superhero. Even a superhero has a weakness. Show your vulnerability and genuineness. Be true to your character. Do not show your kids that you are perfect but rather show them that you are also in need of redemption. Children, your fathers are no perfect. They themselves are also victims and guilty of their sins.

3. Redeeming Godly Portraits of Fatherhood in Christ Jesus.

In John 14:5-11, “5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Conclusion:

We have explored how God can redeem human fathers from corruption, sin, and imperfection and bring them towards transformation. Being transformed into a godly portrait of fatherhood in and only through Jesus Christ. In Christ, the Father has revealed Himself. In Christ, we can understand who the Father is. In Christ, we can be with the Father. Truly, it is all about Christ. May our fathers also have a Christ-like character. Being godly is being like Christ.

Furthermore, I have included the verse in Genesis 35:28-29 in this sermon. Why? Grounding my sermon from the three patriarch’s narratives, I challenge all the fathers and even extending to all of us here to have the same goal. That when we are asked, if it will be our last day here in this world, how would you like to be remembered?

The same with Job, David, other patriarchs, Isaac’s account says that “he has died, ‘full of day/ years.’” What does it mean to die “full of days”? It means, he was content; he was fully satisfied. Stretching the narratives again, these three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all waited for the coming Promised Seed. Last two Sundays ago, we know that it is Christ—the promised seed.

These three fathers were content and full of their days. May we all have the same goal. That when we face death, we can deem ourselves full of days and face our Master hearing, “you can now enter the kingdom my good and faithful servant.”

 

Ptr John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
June 20, 2021

 

*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.