Text: Genesis 1:26-28; Revelation 21:1-2, 22:3-4

God, Creation, and Technology: From the Garden of Eden to the City of Restored Eden (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

AI, VR, IOT, these are all thoughts towards utopia, idealism, and the pursuit of having a perfect world. However, these realities have been influential to the church ever since the Covid pandemic happened. Sadly, the challenge and the transition to embracing digital technology as part of the church were not thought critically two years ago. Many thought that it will just subside after the trend of Zoom Online Worship, Hybrid services, and Worship Online streaming. That is why we are going to have this sermon series about God, the Bible, Technology, and the Church.

Background:

Nowadays, GenX (and Baby Boomers) people are digital immigrants who see digital tech as progress. While Millennials see digitality as a norm, essential. And the GenZ—digital natives—as language. The distinctions are needed to be understood to close the techno-cultural gap. Hence, the study of DT is significant to all generations.

The greatest technological influence on Christianity was the invention of the printing press by German innovator Johannes Gutenberg in the 1440s. The first book produced by Gutenberg’s Press was a Bible—known as Gutenberg Bible. This technology, his press, was the means to crystalize the Reformation Age of Martin Luther and other Protestants through printing pamphlets, books, church letters, and sermons.

Lastly, during Apostle Paul’s missionary journey, he utilized Roman’s road during the Pax Romana period. This road was an advanced technology made by the Roman Empire to connect their main city to the outskirts and neighboring towns. This road was mainly used by the military. Yet, Paul used this to advance the gospel of Christ as seen in Acts 28. To this notion, the roads that Romans built to move their legions were traveled by Christian missionaries of the first century. Now the network built by the US Department of Defense can be traveled by the Christian missionaries of the twenty-first century at virtually no cost.

Main Idea:

Is it biblical? In a word, yes. How? Let us explore this idea of the Theology of Making. Found in the book of Genesis, the biblical grounding from God as the Creator (Genesis 1) also extends to perceiving humanity as imago Dei. Humanity as the image of God bears the calling to create, rule over, multiply, and subdue all creatures on earth (1:26-28). The beginning of the principle that human beings, as the image of God, are called to be co-creators in this world. Part of this co-creating is the creative development of digital technology for society which includes the church.

The Bible starts in the Creation narrative (creating the world; Genesis 1) and ends in the New Creation (Revelation 21-22). God commanded Adam to give or “create” names for the animals (Genesis 2:19-20). God created covenantal bonds for redemption starting with Adam and Even (3:15) also known as the protoevangelium. Next, God asked Noah to build or “create” an ark to preserve life (6:14-18). Moreover, through Abraham (12:2-3), God will “create” a nation—descendants of Abraham (15:18).

The New Testament is also full of creating narratives. Jesus Christ “created” the church as the new covenant family (Matthew 16:18). The Holy Spirit creates “new hearts” (Ezekiel 36:26-27) in the believer’s heart and created a “new temple” as the indwelling place of God (Rom 8:9-11). Finally, fast forward to the coming future. On the day of the Lord, we await the New Creation (Rev. 21:1-2).

Does it Glorify God? Why is it important to ask this question? In 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” A similar passage in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Yes, because it is conforming to God in His creation, and it serves its purpose. To create something is a part of our daily experience. We create a decision, you create a meal for breakfast. We create relationships. We are even called to procreate to multiply. Even in the church, we are called to create a worshipful atmosphere.

Conclusion:

Again, technology is part of God’s providential wisdom. God is not surprised with these things that our society develops and creates. However, the church must maintain to be part of this engagement. We are not mere consumers and observers of this technology. We ought to take part in this techno-cultural shift. Remember in the 90s and early 2000s, what mobile brand was famous during that time? Nokia, right? However, in the following years, they have been left behind from the rapid changes of development. Likewise, the church will be left behind if we will not be critical of this matter. Digital We praise God for technology. We can continue worshipping God even many of you are there Online, via Zoom, and FB Live.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
January 16, 2022

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

 

 

Text: 2 Timothy 1:6-14

Jesus Christ Our Confidant (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

In today’s passage, Paul wrote this letter to Timothy while he was imprisoned in Rome. This imprisonment of Paul is quite different from the previous ones that he experienced. Why? Because this time, he was expecting to be executed—simply saying, to die. However, as you read through the passages written by Paul, it seems like he has this kind of confidence despite his dire situation.

I specifically chose this passage because of verse 7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” The Greek form here is “deilia,” quite different from the terms we learned before when we speak about the Fear of the Lord, or God’s Fear both in OT and NT. This fear is the kind of feeling that we need to throw away and welcome in our hearts. It “refers to one who flees from battle, and has a strong pejorative sense referring to cowardice… [compared to] Boldness, not cowardice, is a mark of the Spirit (see Prov. 28:1; Acts 4:31).”

Background:

Plagues in Church History

  • The Ten Plagues before the Israelite’s Exodus from Egypt
  • Ancient Plagues (Athens [429 BC]; Antonine [165-180]; Cyprian [250-266]; Roman [590]).
  • The Black Death (1348-9); London (1563-4; 1592-3); Great Plague (1665-6)
  • Spanish Flu (1918); AIDS (1981-);
  • SARS (2002-2004); Swine Flu; MERS; Zika; and Ebola (2018)

Even Martin Luther, during the deadly plague that struck Wittenberg in 1527, continued to minister even though the government official left them already. In his letter to a certain pastor, Luther exemplified the balance of fight and flight responses.

Main Idea:

The response and resolution to this “sinful fear”—the one that retreats or flees from God—is found in the following verses. Verses 8-10 can be a summary of the Gospel. And verses 11-14 as something that we ought to endure while living on earth. Read these verses.

Again, Christ suffered so he can be one with us. At the same time, we share this suffering so we can be like Christ. 2 Timothy 2, “11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

Practical Directions:

  • Christ as our Confidant produces three things:
    It brings us Comfort because:

    • Christ Listens, 1 John 5:15, “And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
    • Christ Sympathizes, Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
  • It draws us to Assurance,
    • Eternal Security, 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:11-13)
  • The Spirit’s Indwelling, 2 Tim 1:14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Conclusion:

Prudence is necessary as we navigate through this pandemic. Yet, it is still necessary to understand if we are truly fearing God or running away from Him. Is this moment, or your moment that you experience is drawing you closer to God or not? It is not limited to the Covid situation, but in each aspect of our life that causes us fear. Rest assured that at any point of this matter, Jesus Christ is the only solid, unchangeable, unshakeable reality that He is our very confidant.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
January 9, 2022

 

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

 

 

 

Text: 1 Peter 1:13

A Hopeful New Year 2022 (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Today is another year. New Year 2022. 2021 is done, and we are now venturing through this year. But New Years are not something mystical nor magical. We sometimes think that when 12AM arrives, all the challenges, trials, and sufferings last year will vanish or at least reduce. However, it does not work that way. It ain’t like a firework that once it blasted up in the sky after a second it will be gone. No. It is not.

But, take note of this, if given all the opportunity and chance from God, staying “not okay” is not okay. Yes, we feel sad and disappointed, but we are not called to stay there. That is why New Years are there to remind us about a HOPEFUL NEW YEAR. And in our passage today, it points us that the ultimate foundation of this Hope is no other than the Person of Jesus Christ.

Main Idea:

Our hope is dependent on the things that are yet to come but Jurgen Moltmann’s Theology of hope states that the Christian is to be seen as a “hoper,” someone who is impatient and terribly dissatisfied with the current status of the world.

1 Peter 1:3 states there that salvation is due to God’s mercy, grace, and sovereignty, for he miraculously gave sinners new life. Wherein we already have it, the hope of Christians is their future resurrection. Believers have an unshakable hope for the future, for Christ’s resurrection is a pledge of their own future resurrection. Have you ever asked the question: What makes you, you? What is the essence of your unique personhood? What does that taproot from which the flower of your individuality grows?

I. Christian Hope

Theology of hope makes eschatology its central governing concept; all other teachings revolve around eschatology and are only properly understood in that view. It begins not with creation, but with the resurrection of Christ (1 Peter 1:3). Eschatology means the doctrine of Christian hope. The whole idea behind the “theology of hope” is the hope of the believer. It is hope which sustains and carries each believer through life. It is “hope” that changes us, hope that changes the world. It is an expectation that the promises of God are already in the process of fulfillment.

II. Hope Fully

And as you all know, the Bible—especially Peter’s first letter—does not ease our burden by saying: “When things are tough, don’t fret about others; take care of yourself.” In fact, Peter seems to suggest that the tougher the times, the greater the need to live a life of love for others.
When Peter says in 1:13, “Hope fully in the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” he does not mean we should desire it and be uncertain of it. The coming of Christ is a matter of complete confidence for all the writers in the New Testament. So, the command, “Hope fully,” means be intensely desirous and fully confident that Jesus Christ is coming again with grace for his people.

Conclusion:

One of the comments in Katie Ganshert’s book entitled The Art of Losing Yourself, was a beautiful story of endurance and hope–offering no easy answers but the irresistible light of Christ to guide us. Both in our personal lives and in our community that the only hope is Christ, in which it is the gospel to be preached, shared, and proclaimed. Let’s not keep this hope and let others lose again the hope they are longing for.

Challenge:

Christian hope arises in the heart through hearing a credible testimony of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
January 2, 2022

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

 

 

 

Text: Hebrews 2:9-18

The Christ of Christmas Sermon Devotional (Full Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Without Christ, Christmas is just another secular holiday. The world seems to see Christmas solely for gift-giving, shared fellowship, family bonding, and romantic holidates. It is true that even Spurgeon encouraged Christians to celebrate more than celebrate less. However, every time we take out Christ in Christmas, it diminishes the real purpose of the day.

Suffering: Despite this presence of suffering, God calls us to trust in Him, be faithful just as how Job was, and continue to walk wisely and righteously. God promises that He will be with His people, never leave them, and help them by the Spirit’s comfort and protection. By God’s grace in Christ, we long for the eschatological coming of the kingdom of God where pain and suffering are no longer existing.

Forgiveness and Reconciliation: The vast meaning of the term “forgive” is rich. It pertains to covering up, to pardon, to be merciful, to send away or take away, and more. This forgiveness does not only secure redemption but also transforms the heart of a person to pursue godliness. The author proposes that this divine forgiveness is not limited to vertical reconciliation: God and humanity, but also horizontally: believers and community.

Assurance: God has been in the business of assuring His elect. Still, in the Old Testament God’s promises, encountering His people, and showing signs and wonders was His way to assure His covenantal relationship with Israel. It is understood both in the OT and the NT as God’s gift. A reflection of His grace to demonstrate the certainty of one’s faith. It is best understood as God’s act of letting His children be confident, have peace of mind, and rest in Christ by the Spirit.

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, the real reason for Christmas is Christ—the Second Person of the Trinity—preexistent, eternal, and Lord, willingly chose to become fully human, in order to save humanity from the wretchedness of their sin. That is why we celebrate Christmas; it brings us, Hope. Once again, Christmas is a story of second chances, anyone can be whole again. Anyone has the opportunity to be redeemed from their sin. Christmas is an act of grace.

The Christ of Christmas is not just the Savior of the Ancient past, but still the Redeemer and Lord of this present generation. Hope is a person, indeed.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
December 26, 2021

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

 

 

Text: Colossians 1:15-17

The Preexistence of Jesus Christ (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

The keyword here is “prototokos” which literally translates as “born before”. Not because he is a created being; it clearly states that he was not created, but prototokos points to the thought that Jesus is eternal. He preexisted even before the creation of the world and will always be before the beginning of this universe. Gerard Friedrich says that prototokos does not mean to give birth as firstborn but as a literal chief or head. The very superior person above all things.

A primary point for today is that The Preexistence of Jesus Christ—or His eternality—is foundational to His Divinity. That our understanding of who Jesus is as God is important to how we have understood His preexistence.

Background:

Paul wrote this apologetic letter to the church at Colossae to clarify the doctrines about Christ. This church in Colossae was planted by one of Paul’s students or disciples. But why? What is happening here, remember that the place of the church is no longer in Jerusalem or Near-East, but already surrounded by Greco-Roman cities; Colossae was greatly influenced by Greek philosophy and mythology. To give some examples, they were familiar that Zeus is the One that rules over all gods and goddesses. Also, the Diaspora Jewish Philosopher named Philo—to whom we got the term Philosophy meaning lover of wisdom—was also prominent as a teacher in the said place.

Thus, Paul was telling the church that Jesus Christ is superior to the man-made god named Zeus and the teachings about Jesus Christ should not be mixed up with Philo’s compromised philosophies.

  • “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26).
  • Genesis 16 – Hagar meeting the Lord
  • Genesis 18:1-33 – One day, Abraham had some visitors: two angels and God Himself. He invited them to come to his home, and he and Sarah entertained them. Many commentators believe this could also be a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.
  • Genesis 32:22-30 – Jacob wrestled with what appeared to be a man, but was actually God (vv. 28-30).
  • Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
  • John 1:1. The word “was” in the phrase, “In the beginning was the Word,” is the Greek hen, the imperfect tense that stresses continual existence in past time. The phrase could thus be translated, “In the beginning the Word was continually existing.”
  • John 12:41, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him” (cf. Isaiah 6:10).

Main Idea:

First, it displays the fullness of Christ’s divinity; meaning that Jesus is God. In Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” In Hebrews 1:1-3, it states as well that Jesus is the exact imprint, the very representation of God. Meaning, if we want to know God, there is no other way for us to truly know Him apart from Christ. To know Jesus Christ is to know God the Creator.

Second, it denotes the authority of Christ. Jesus being preexistent and being the firstborn signifies his power to rule over all things. Christ here is the firstborn of all creation. He has the authority; even in Hebrews 1:3, he sits at the right hand of God which also pertains to authority as being the right hand. This power includes being in control of what is happening in the universe. The One who sustains the world.

Lastly, the third point, the preexistence of Christ proclaims His preeminence and Lordship. Christ’s kingship as the One who fulfilled the covenantal promise with David amplifies that truly Jesus is Lord.

Conclusion:

Learning from these three things about Christ’s preexistence, first, His Divinity; second, His authority; third, His Lordship or preeminence. Christmas is worth celebrating because first, Jesus is God. It is worth celebrating, second, because Jesus rules. Finally, Christmas is worth celebrating because Jesus is Lord.

As said, is Jesus truly number one in our lives? Let us reflect. If Jesus is truly number one in your life, do you:

  • Seek God in the first moments of the day. (Personal and Family Worship)
  • Seek God on the first day of the week. (Sunday Services)
  • Seek God in the first tenth of our income. (Finances and Giving)

 

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

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

 

 

Text: Luke 1:26-38

The Significance of the Virgin Birth (Full Sermon Manuscript)

Introduction:

  • I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of
    the virgin Mary. (The Apostles’ Creed)
  • In His incarnation as Jesus Christ, He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin
    Mary. (Baptist Faith and Message 2000)

Background:

The problem of exalting Mary than of God’s work, the Immaculate Conception. The thought that Mary was born without sin, which makes her a sinless human being. If that is the case, Jesus is not the only One who was sinless.

Another challenge happened in the late 19th century and early 20th century, describing the evolution/ secularism/ science (liberals). That it is incomprehensible for someone to be born without physical intercourse—rejecting the virgin birth.

Our goal today is to restore and be reminded of the significance of the wonderful story of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Main Idea:

The transforming story of the virgin birth actually starts way behind the New Testament. It started from a prophecy stated by the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin (young woman) will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Christ was born out of a virgin and made entire Israel and even the whole world victorious against the real enemies, evil, sin, and fleshly desires. Yet, remember that the prophecy was about a virgin birth however, in Isaiah 7, the birth of the maiden here that Isaiah prophesied was not an actual virgin birth. Read Isaiah 8:1-4.

So, Isaiah prophesied that Judah will be saved, sustained, and preserved because of the child “Immanuel” but named “Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz”. And yes, God was faithful to His word that all these things were fulfilled.

What makes the story of the nativity, the birth of Christ soooooo wonderful is because it goes beyond the expected fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. The actual Virgin Birth happened at the birth of Christ. Isaiah 7 alludes to the Greater fulfillment of the prophecy which is Jesus’ birth. That makes the Christmas story not just amazing, but powerful, captivating, and worth celebrating.

Implications:

Implication no. 1, Truly Man. “Forasmuch as he is no half-savior, but redeemer both of body and soul.” – Thomas Monck. Indeed, Christ can only be the worthy sacrificial lamb if He can represent humanity. But he cannot if He is not man. Therefore, the birth of Christ through Mary was a reminder that He is Truly Man.

Implication no. 2, Truly God. Likewise, the mystery of conception that Jesus cannot at the same way represent God if He is not God. Therefore, Jesus was conceived by the Spirit of God—the Holy Spirit—who is the Third Person of the Godhead. This reality shows that Jesus is God

Conclusion:

A final point here. This may not be an implication but let us dwell on this promise. In verse 37 of Luke 1, “For no word from God will ever fail.” The book of Isaiah was written in 800 BC, while the gospel of Luke was in the range of 80-90 AD. The ultimate fulfillment of the promise of the prophecy took place after 800 years.

What can we learn from this? Somehow, for Christians, we thought God does not work because we do not feel Him, we do not encounter him. Yet the verse reminds us that God’s Word will never fail. As humans, we fail, but God’s Word lasts forever. Trust God’s Word. Read it.

Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
December 5, 2021

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

 

 

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Giving Thanks is God’s Will (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

What is the symbol for “thanksgiving”? A turkey. What if I tell you that a Christian person can be a symbol of thanksgiving, will you believe me? Well, it is difficult for us to say “yes” especially if you have been surrounded by ungrateful Christians in your entire time.

Background:

In all circumstances? Yes, remember Paul and Silas when they were imprisoned, they were singing praises to God (Acts 16:25). Remember Job when he was bombarded with all the miseries of life, his wife even told him to curse God, yet Job replied “‘Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (Job 2:10). Paul when he was writing to the Philippi, he was inside the prison, both hands chained, yet still 16 times he told them to rejoice and give thanks!

Even in the context of our passage, chapters 4 and 5 of 1 Thessalonians, it is about the last days or the second coming of Christ. It describes the return of Christ and how Christians ought to behave and walk on this side of reality. Paul is saying, Jesus is Christ is coming, you must do these things. And one of his emphases was about “rejoicing, pray without ceasing, and giving thanks” arguing that these things are the “will of God in Christ Jesus.”

Biblical References:

In our passage, the will of God is centered on being thankful, giving thanks, simply bearing the attitude of gratitude. We fall short even to these simple things. But it is very clear in the Bible, throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, that the children of God are expected of being always grateful in all circumstances of life.

  • “Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love endures forever.” — 1 Chronicles 16:34
  • “Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever!” — Psalm 107:1
  • “Enter his gates with thanks; enter his courtyards with praise! Thank him! Bless his name!” — Psalm 100:4
  • “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — Ephesians 5:20
  • “The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people.” — Colossians 3:15
  • “Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.” — Colossians 3:17

Main Idea:

Focusing on our main passage, 1 Thess. 5:16-18, when you stop praying, you stop rejoicing and giving thanks, and you stop following God’s will in your life. The point is praying is an essential principle in our Christian walk. Thankful to Jesus Christ, for what He had done on the Cross.

As each member of the body is united to Christ, so the body as a whole is united to each of its members. Thankful for the local church.

Be thankful for difficult people, Chris Pappalardo said, “thankful for the moments that require patience, humility, and meekness; thankful for the inter-personal friction that I usually want to avoid. Because in those moments, I remember the mercy of God—and of others—toward me.”

Be grateful for your work. Thankful for the small group. Lastly, thankful for missions and church planting. As a church, we ought to celebrate these things.

Conclusion:

There are still more to be stated here. Personal, collective, and even spiritual. My challenge is, for this year 2021, as a Christian who ought to embody gratefulness, what is your ultimate thanksgiving this year? Write it on the back of your Bible so you can always look back in the succeeding years and be reminded about this year. Thank you, church, may we all embrace Christ’s power to transform any story, even the Thanksgiving Story. Praises be to God!

 

John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
November 28, 2021

 

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

 

 

Text: Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and Psalm 101:1-8

The Lost Practice [Spiritual Discipline] of Family Worship (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

However, in Titus 2:6-8, we learned last month that discipleship is communal. That older people—the parents—should “6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

Today’s sermon will be short but practical. I will emphasize the importance of the said spiritual discipline on our title, the practice of family worship. Listen, parents especially fathers because all of you have this imperative command from God. This spiritual discipline, a biblical model for our faith has been a lost practice amongst many Christians.

Main Idea:

Old Testament Model: Joshua 24:15, But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

The challenge is that we let our children be discipled by pop culture. Or maybe even yourself. How many hours do you watch Netflix? Spend time on your work? Play a game? Or read Facebook posts or use other social media?

Well going back, while in NT Model we learned that Timothy learned how to do worship and the practices of the faith not through other people but through Eunice (his mother), Lois (his Grandma.

In Acts 10, when Cornelius heard about the coming of Apostle Peter, he called his entire household and even his relatives which led to regular time for them to do family worship. If you are going to survey the book of Acts, there are many times where the household of Christians—or the early church, the early converts—worshipped God continually.

What happened then? How come many churches and Christian families no longer practice such spiritual discipline? Short church history lesson, during the Medieval years, the shift from Family Worship to Church Catechism happened. From the Reformation years, even Baptists had Catechism classes where we train children about the doctrines of our faith. So, when they will engage with the outside world, they are equipped with this knowledge. The Puritans also adhered to the return of the Family Worship.

However, in the late 18th century, Sunday School was introduced. Instead of teaching doctrinal faith or doing family worship. Sunday school classes focused on Bible stories and moralistic lessons that can be learned in those stories. A shift from worship and doctrine to some GMRC lessons. Then in the last quarter of the 20th-century meaning, in the 80s-90s, Sunday school shifted to small groups where Youth also have their own group and was being led by a Youth Pastor.

Practical Guide for Family Worship:

What constitutes Family worship? Two major things: Prayer and the Word. Both are inseparable. Just as how Christ modeled prayer, teach your children to pray. Actually, the best method is to pray with them. You do not need to pray long, “Sleepy prayers will put your children to sleep.” Be varied. Don’t pray the same thing every day; Don’t reduce your prayers to self-centered, shallow petitions.”

Read a verse. Explain shortly how you can apply it in your lives. Another method is you can explain the Sermon last Sunday, many things were mentioned during the preaching that your children were not able to grasp somehow. “Be plain in meaning. Ask your children if they understand what you are reading. Be plain in applying scriptural texts” (Beeke and Jones).

The goal is simple. Family worship. Keep it short, you do not need to replicate the entire worship service during Sundays. You can be creative if you want. Integrate music, YouTube, devotional apps, and more. As long as Prayer and the Word of God are there, and your family is there, then you are doing it well. Again, this is a biblical model. This is not a new discovery, nor an invented system by some pastors.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
November 21, 2021

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

 

 

Text: Ephesians 2:14-22

God’s Impartiality (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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The Problem:

13 You, my brothers, and sisters were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:13-14) This is the problem.

We thought that a little seed of prejudice, hatred, or dislike is okay since it does not hurt others or yourself. But come to think that any seed has the potential to grow bigger and affect the things surrounding it.

James 1, “14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death.” Like King David, when he saw Bathsheba, he lusted her. Then, committed adultery. After, planned for the death of Uriah which is the same as murdering him.

I. God’s Impartiality

When it comes to partiality, God’s nature and response are non-conflicting. God both in the Old Testament and New Testament reveals that He has no partiality, meaning no favoritism. In Deut. 10:17-19, reading only verse 17; it states, “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe.”

Paralleling this in Eph. 2:14-17, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… God through the cross… he put to death their hostility.” All have equal access to the Father by one Spirit.

God’s impartiality is both revealed in His nature and work. Remember, Christ deeply exemplified this when He called a Tax Collector to be his disciples, forgiven an adulterer, ate with a liar, healed those who were lepers, a widow, the thief on the cross, and sinners like you and me. Do not be discouraged that God does not show favor in you. We all have the same privilege when it comes to Christ. He shows no partiality. He had broken the wall of hostility that was dividing our world.

II. Church’s Impartiality

Speaking about impartiality, since God reveals Himself as someone who shows no partiality, it is only right that the church would represent Christ in this world when it comes to that. In James 2:1-9, read 1 above then, “But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (v. 9).
The church first and for all must manifest this truth. We must champion this reality that there shall be no favoritism nor partiality when it comes to the body of Christ.

After Christ, our very priority, the next most important thing is the unity of this church. Always remind yourself, I am part of this church. We are the church. No partiality, no favoritism, no this and that. Everything should be in one accord.

Conclusion:

Ten Remedies for Partiality from Thomas Brooks’ thought:

  1. Dwell more upon one another’s graces than upon one another’s weaknesses and infirmities.
  2. Dwell upon those commands of God that do require you to love one another.
  3. Dwell upon those things that you agree with than those you differ—especially Christ is our common ground.
  4. Dwell upon our union as the body of Christ (Eph. 5:30); fellow soldiers, fellow-sufferers, fellow travelers, fellow-inheritors of the same crown and riches in Christ.
  5. Dwell upon the miseries of discord; disunity is corrupting; dissolutions is the daughter of dissension. It extends to stumbling other people especially the unbelievers.
  6. Dwell upon the priority of reconciliation over discord. (Ps 34:14; Rm. 14:19)
  7. Dwell upon the things that we can work together for Christ, ie. Missions and evangelism, discipleship, and outreach ministries.
  8. Dwell upon your self-shortcomings over others’ weaknesses. (Luke 18:9-14; 1 Cor. 11:31)
  9. Dwell upon laboring to be clothed in humility (1 Pet. 5:5; Jn 13:5).
  10. Dwell in prayer: pray for them, pray with them, and pray like them.

 

John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
November 14, 2021

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

 

 

Text: Luke 18:9-14

Grasping the Heart of Worship (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

SEENZONED: “Seen full” means indifferent or ignoring our sins.

Background:

Pharisee – expert of the law (Torah), respected, faithful

  • serves God seriously by going without food from sunrise to sunset on Mondays and Thursdays and
  • by tithing all their possessions
  • keeping the moral and ritual commandments of the law.
  • Common people admired them greatly.

Tax Collector – outcasts

  • collaborated with the hated Roman oppressors,
  • Fleeced/ tricked their fellow Jews and practiced all sorts of fraud/scam.
  • The common people disliked them.
  • Like, Zacchaeus.

Plot Twist:

The disciples of Christ, after learning or hearing this parable, their default response would be: “Good thing I am not like that Pharisee.” Or maybe we also share a similar reaction, “Oh, I am sure I am not like that Pharisee who looks down on others.” If that was in your thoughts, then you have fallen likewise. You have judged and condemned the Pharisee without looking at examining yourself first.

Main Idea:

  1. Reverent Heart
    • Bowing down; adoration; worship
    • • Jesus is King, we should offer the greatest respect and adoration to our King when worshipping Him. When praying, let us glorify Him with our words. Instead of always asking from God, first, utter praises and adoration to our God.
    • A problem: Demanding Heart
      • As if God owes you a lot. God does not owe you anything, instead, you owe everything to God. Hence, the proper response to God is a humble act of bowing, kneeling, and begging for His mercy, grace, and redemption
    • Entitled Heart: I gave this; I did this
      • Self-centeredness; selfish ambitions do not bring you far to eternal places. Remember in Philippians 2:1-5, having the mind of Christ. It points to humility—a selfless kind of attitude. This Christlike character is the one that “values others above themselves”

2. Repentant Heart 

  • Lord, have mercy
    • We should live in dependence on Him in our daily battles with our sins through prayer as we continually cry out to Him for His power to enable us to obey His will.
  • Forgive me
    • The gospel is a vital gift from God not only for our salvation but also to enable us to deal with the ongoing activity of sin in our lives.
  • Wrong response: blaming God
  • Wrong response: not admitting your sins

3. Receptive Heart

  • recognizing your need for forgiveness
  • Accepting Christ’s finished work
  • Accepting God’s grace

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
November 8, 2021

 

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