Introduction:
Both the family and the church have the duty to guide another, and be responsible for training and equipping the next generation. Instead of seeing the youth or other parts of the church body as a separate entity to the point of perceiving it as a parachurch. Why not let us explore God’s Word today through Paul’s letter to the Ephesus.

Background:
The overall context in this chapter is located in verse 1, the church called to be imitators of God. Of course, we need to know the revealed God, Jesus Christ for us to imitate God. How do we know Christ? It is through His revelation, His Word, the Bible.

Narrowing this command to imitate God in Christ, the church is compared to a family. Reading through our passage, the viewpoint is that the church as a family ought to live in submission to one another—called humility through a mutual union. Also, the church is called to love just like how a husband loves his wife. Finally, the church needs to exemplify honor to one another just as how the children need to show respect and obey their parents.

Main Idea:
Apostle Paul explained to the churches at Ephesus concerning unity and imitating God. He used the mystery of being one in marriage, and how the church is in union with Christ. Going beyond being one in Christ as a husband and wife, Paul included the children who must exemplify honor. Paul is describing a biblical image of what a church is, and at the same time, what a godly family is. This might sound too good to be true, but apart from God’s grace, this principle—the one that exemplifies humility, love, and honor—is unachievable. Indeed, no family is perfect, but any imperfect family can walk in a godly manner.

  1. The first principle is Humility/ Submission. Let us check verses 22-24.

When wives are called by God to submit to their husbands, it has no implication of inferiority–but rather is done in their highest eternal interest.

Understanding this submission in context, we need to read the prior verse. In verse 21, it states about a mutual submission to one another as followers of Christ. Adding to that, this submission is compared with the church’s submission to Christ. Christ being the head of the church does not mean coercing one’s will to submit. It is faith-based.

Let me sight some biblical samples on submission. First, in Philippians 2:5-11, the incarnation scene. Christ submitted Himself to the divine plan of the Father. This submission does not show that Christ is inferior to the Father, but Christ as the Son fulfilling His role by subjecting upon the Father’s will. This is similar to Christ’s resurrection presented in 1 Corinthians 15:27-28, submission for God to be all in all. Lastly, in Luke 22:42, Christ praying and depending on the Father’s will. Humility through submission does not mean inferiority.

Monica, the mother of Augustine, “who was faithful, was weeping for… [and] pleaded all the more insistently and with free-flowing tears” that Augustine would come to faith in Christ. While Susanna Wesley, who had 19 children but 9 died as infants. Despite the complexities and busyness of Susanna as a mother nurturing her 10 children, she finds time to pray two hours every day. She covers her head with her apron and sits on her favorite kitchen chair with her favorite Bible for her quiet time. She prays for her whole household in that unique prayer room she made.

2. The second principle is Love.

Husbands, do not expect great submission without you following the duty of loving your wife. This kind of love goes beyond the world’s definition of love. Love here in Greek is agape, dispositional, and unconditional. A kind of love that is willing to give oneself to death for his beloved. In context, this love is Christ’s kind of love, who gave Himself to death for his church. A self-giving kind of love.

This is a purposeful love. A love that will point your wives to holiness, to intimacy with Christ, and forming a godly walk in your family. Your love for your wife a reflection of how you love yourself. Self-love, in the husband’s context, should be a self-giving love since you and your wife are one.

Now, through God’s grace, your love goes beyond this practical simple. Husbands, take note that even when both you love banks are at a low level, you ought to still love your spouse, choose to love her daily, and love her more because this is how Christ modeled His love for us and His church. This is the godly way of love; the gracious way of loving.

3. The third principle, Honor.

Children, listen to this, the secret to having a long life is to honor our parents. So, eating pancit is fake news because we know it makes our life longer. Funny, right? But this life does not speak about just having more years in the world, but it speaks about a flourishing life, a life that is blessed. In Proverbs 1:8, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Youth, you need wisdom from the adults. Do not take this for granted. This is both essential and a privilege.


Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.8


In short, in everything, parents ought to exemplify a godly living (check 6:4). Why do we expect our children to be lovers of the Word while we, as parents, are lovers of the world or idolizers of your works? If we are serious to model to the young people that we ought to prioritize God’s Word, then we make time for it, not just try to fit it into our schedules. 


Conclusion:

Loving, submitting, and honoring one another within the family in Christ are all inseparable. Respect, indeed, is earned and given. A father ought to exemplify a life that is honorable and worthy of respect. Likewise, a mother ought to show the greatest model of love which is submission or humility. Just as how Christ humbled Himself, the mothers have the privilege to be the tower of humility. Furthermore, children ought to honor their parents, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, this command is given. Give them the utmost respect and trust them in their wisdom about life. Of course, trust also is needed for the parents to their children. You also need to trust them; they need that for their personal development.

Lastly, trust God. We all have the duty, as a family and as a church, to equip each other. But only God can truly transform one’s heart and life. Let us take part in our duties and entrust everything else to God.  

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno February 28, 2021


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

 

 

Text: Acts 17:1-15

 Baptist Identity: Why Am I A Baptist? (Sermon Manuscript) 

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INTRODUCTION:

Today, we will talk about our identity as Baptist. I consider this topic essential for us to narrow down our identity in the broad Christian community.

BAPTISTS: (B) Biblical Authority, (A) Autonomy of the Local Church, (P) Priesthood of all Believers, (T) Two Ordinances: Baptism and Lord’s Supper, (I) Individual Soul Liberty, (S) Saved (or Baptized) Church Membership, (T) Two Offices: Pastor (or Elders) and Deacon, and (S) Separation of Church and State (or Religious Freedom).

Walter Shurden summarizes it into four distinctives: (1) Bible Freedom, (2) Soul Freedom, (3) Church Freedom, (4) and Religious Freedom.

Bible freedom pertains to the freedom to have a personal Bible and to interpret it. Because during the Ancient to Medieval times, the interpretation of the Scriptures was monopolized by the Bishops, Pope, or those who sit on the throne of the cathedrals. Soul liberty also known as the priesthood of all believers pertains to our right and responsibility to deal with God without the imposition of anyone or anything. We have direct access to God alone also known as our privilege of access. Church freedom is local autonomy or self-governance. Lastly, religious freedom is the biggest contribution of the Baptists to the New World, America, the British Isles, and part of my research, the Philippines.

 

BACKGROUND:

Moreover, for today, I want to expose three characteristics of the Early Church specifically during Paul’s missionary journey in Macedonia. As you can see on the PowerPoint, this map shows the second missionary journey of Paul and Silas. They both met Timothy in that first arrow there in Lystra.

When they were at Troas, Paul had a vision from God to go to Macedonia to preach the gospel. And there, in the second arrow, where they met Lydia and other converted believers to Christianity. But they had some conflicts and were imprisoned. After being released, they went to Thessalonica which is where our passage starts.

 

MAIN IDEA:

  1. People of the Book

In verse 11, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

In here, we can clearly read that when Paul, Silas, and later with Timothy, preached the good news about Jesus Christ in Berea, these believers responded by devotionally examining the Scriptures. How? Receiving it with all eagerness. How often? Daily.

This thorough examination of the Bible happened at the Gainsborough Church, Trent Valley—where John Smyth studied the Bible with some Puritan ministers for nine months where they agreed to become a Separatist Church by 1607. This eagerness was termed as “Gainsborough Principle” in seeking for the truth, “…to walk in all his ways, made known, or to be made known unto them, according to their best endeavors…the Lord assisting them.” The italicized phrase means that it is an ongoing retrieval or exploration of the truth even up to this day.

  1. Persevered Persecutions

In verse 5, some Jews and other people formed a mob to tried to persecute Paul and his companions. They did not see him, so they just dragged Jason (who was helping Paul) to the city court and made him pay for the disturbance. The same mob also followed them at Berea, but Paul was able to go to Athens before they arrived (vv 13-15). This kind of persecution also happened before they arrived in Thessalonica, in Acts 16:22-24 they were beaten and imprisoned.

This kind of suffering is what Christ described as sharing His suffering with us. That when we preached the gospel, not all will believe, some will listen, but at the same time, many will persecute us and disagree with us. These arguments against Christianity are evident in our school system, frowning upon those students who are coming from the Christian worldview.

  1. Pursuer of Missions

It is in the context of missions that are passage is found. Paul was doing missionary work together with Silas and Timothy. This journey was not the first one, but the second one for Paul. Yet, as seen on the map I presented a while ago, we can see that Paul planted churches in each city where he landed. He devoted himself to the Word of God and wrestled with the people by proclaiming to them the gospel of Christ. And despite the persecutions they experienced, they never stopped proclaiming the gospel to all people. They were pursuers of missions—the Great Commission which we ought to obey.

Personal evangelism, church missions, and outreach are not only for those who are talented or gifted in evangelism. We, the followers of Christ, have the duty to evangelize. It is not a separate ministry nor a department of the church. Each one must do it.

I love what Ptr. Adrian Rogers said, “No matter how faithfully you attend church, how generously you give, how circumspectly you walk, how eloquently you teach, or how beautifully you sing, if you are not endeavoring to bring people to Jesus Christ  you are not right with God.” Ministries are important, but evangelism is vital.

 

CONCLUSION:

Indeed, the Baptist wanted to conform to how the New Testament describes the early church. Though we know that these characteristics that we learned are not exclusively evident only in the Baptist churches, but also with other denominations. But in here, the Baptists went beyond the Reformed Tradition, the Puritans, and other Protestants that dissented from the state church. They sought the true church as seen in the Bible; by just exploring a short passage in Acts 17, we saw the characteristics that are evident in being a Baptist.

We are known as the People of the Book, the early Baptist by devoting their time studying the Scriptures together concluded that the only Lord and King that they should follow is Christ. And Christ’s word, which is the Bible, is the only authoritative revelation of God for our faith and practices. From there, the Baptist movement realized what a true church is; a true church is composed of regenerated members who confessed their faith through baptism and are covenanted with each other. Furthermore, despite many persecutions, the Baptists are known for being missional.

I hope and pray, as a Baptist church, may we also reflect and exemplify the early church at Berea, “who examined the Scriptures daily with great eagerness” (v. 11). As well as the early Baptist church that had the Gainsborough Principle, who studied the Scriptures devotedly together for nine months and continuously examining it for the pursuit of truth.

I urge you, church, to be serious in our Bible studies, participate in it; likewise, in listening to the Word during Sundays, and in your personal moment with God. Not just because we are Baptists, but because Jesus is our King!

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
February 21, 2021


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

 

 

 

Text: John 13:34-35; also 1 John 4:7-21

Marks of Our Identity: The Church Defined (Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

We have lost the art of wondering about love. What I mean is to be in awe of love. What is love nowadays?

 

Background:

This missing out on the awe and wonder is also the same to our church nowadays. At first, when we were still new Christian, we are on fire.

Yet after several years, even your neighbors do not know that you are a Christian. How about your workmates? Do they know what church you belong to?

Last Sunday, I asked you if do we bear the marks of Jesus? Today, we will talk about the distinguishing mark as followers of Christ—specifically, what does it mean to be a church.

In the last verses in John 13, this part is known to be a preparation of Christ’s farewell discourse to His disciples.

 

Main Idea:

The first mark of our identity as a church is having the mark of Christ, the Love Personified.

In our passages, it is evident that the source of our love is Christ. It is Christ who was speaking here; he was talking to His disciples. We cannot truly love unless someone gives us love or truly loves us. Again, we have heard this statement, “you cannot share or give something that you do not have.” In the same manner, how can a person truly love without experiencing love or knowing love?

This identity is connected to our individual identity. Remember last Sunday, that at the very core of our identity and the very covering of our identity are both in Christ. Likewise, as a church—the body of Christ—we are marked by His identity as a loving church because Christ is the love personified.

What does it mean when I say experiencing Christ within the church? That is our second distinguishing mark called Love Covenanted (or Established).

Now that we have understood that it was Christ who gives love and love itself, then the next thing to realize is that this talk was given to His chosen people. Christ was talking to His disciples in a manner where He sees the unfolding of events in the future.

We need to express this love that we have to someone else, in a broader sense, to a community. We are a self-loving being, just as God is, but the difference is that God is love, and we depend on Him as the source of our love. With this truth in our hearts, we realize that “love” as a distinguishing mark of the church is natural and essential.

Hence, just as God made a covenant to His people out of love, we also manifest this love, which was made visible or established. That is why we need to acknowledge our covenantal relationship with each other as a church. Let us read our Church Covenant (2001, updated 2011): (see  Church Covenant here )

Christ is the first and greatest mark of our identity as a church; second, Christ being made visible through the Spirit’s work in the church as a covenanted people. Lastly, our final mark, Christ being proclaimed in this loving community. Our third mark is Love Proclaimed.

Back in our passage, the phrase in verse 35, “By this, all people will know…” means that others, the world, our community, your workplaces, or even your family will know that you are a Christian.

By loving one another we proclaim God’s love and we model the true church as a loving church. Indeed, to be a church is to be a loving community.

In summary, as a church, first and foremost, we portray Christ as his body; second, we exemplify this love by loving one another as a covenanted family; finally, we proclaim this love to others by living in and living out as a model of what it means to really love.

 

Conclusion:

The true church bears the distinguishing mark of Christ; this mark of identity is known as LOVE. This love is personified in Christ, made visible through His covenantal relationship with His chosen people—the church, and ought to be proclaimed as a manifestation of being the true church.

For my final words, “Live your life by loving Christ, loving the Church, and your Community.”

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
February 14, 2021


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

Text: Galatians 1 and 2

Introduction:

what does it mean to be a Christian? As I studied the culture of Israelites, later the Jewish people, and finally in the New Testament, the early church, I realized that this was also an issue for them. The issue of having layers in their identity.

Main Idea:

This story of confusion about one’s identity as a Christian is not just true nowadays but also before. Even during the Early Church, they have been arguing about this matter. In the Epistle of Galatians, Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the churches at Galatia to remind them about their core identity in Christ (see vv. 1-2). Galatia is one of the cities that were part of his first missionary journey. Sadly, the churches at Galatia were also infiltrated by false teachers, or Judaizers whom we can call “holier than thou” Christians, and more to that later.

Three Layers of Identity according to our passage:

The churches at Galatia have distorted the gospel, or they have been drifted away from the true gospel that was preached by Paul in his recent visit. That is why he wrote this letter with some disappointment and authority to remind them about this matter. Moreover, the issue related to their Christian identity. (1:6-9)

Layer 1: Nationality, Race, or Culture (2:1-14)

The false gospel, or an addition to it, was influenced by the Judaizers. Who are these people? Judaizers are Christians but they enforce the Jewish laws, traditions, and practices to the Gentile Christians. These Judaizers insisted to the Galatian churches that they need to circumcise all the Gentile Christians, follow their dietary laws, and more; but they emphasize the circumcision part to become a genuine part of the covenanted or promised family. (2:4-6)

Nowadays, we still experience this issue of being influenced by false teachers:

  • Legalism – imposing laws and abiding by them strictly; this loses the beauty of grace.
  • Hyper grace or antinomianism – ignoring the laws, commands, given by God.
  • Modern-day Arianism – rejecting the deity of Christ
  • Prosperity Gospel – manipulating the verses for material blessings, or sugar-coating it.

Layer 2: Office, Title, or Success (1:11-21)

Another layer of our identity as Christians is our title, our job, or our attainment. This evident in vv. 11-21, Paul reminded and defended his authority to proclaim the gospel and even the gospel that He preaches. On Paul’s conversion in Acts 9:1-19, this event points that Paul’s authority or license, even the message he proclaims, and his mission to the Gentiles are all from God.

With that, it shows us that, for the Judaizers, their title as Jewish Christians whom God promised the salvation plan, led them to be prideful. And we know that pride is one of the seven deadly sins. And we know that this leads to entitlement. There are subtle entitled acts; especially to the things that you are capable of doing but you do not act on it because you know that someone will do that for you, rather than you doing it for them. This entitled character leads to classes and discrimination. We are aware that it was indeed true in our passage.

Layer 3—the Core Layer: Christ Indwelling in Us (2:15-21)

The very heart of our identity is the Gospel of Christ (2:16). “Justified” means to be in the right relationship with God, made righteous person, forgiven, became part of God’s family, and being transformed by God’s grace. And if you are justified, then we ought to live like a justified person. This is the process of sanctification. There must be a continuous process of transformation in our lives, thus Paul indicated that we ought to manifest the fruits of the Holy Spirit while we mortify our sins (5:16-24).

What Christ has done becomes true to us (2:20). This is my life verse. I will only say short to this for now because I want to expose the real meaning of this passage in the last sermon for our defined series. For now, Paul all the identities he has, being an Apostle and a Jew, do not matter without the very core of his Christian identity.

Conclusion:

Galatians 6:14-17, 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which[b] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”

               Do you bear the marks of Jesus?

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
February 7, 2021


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

Text: Genesis 1:26-28, Gen. 3.

Introduction:

Who am I? or who am I truly?

 

Background:

 The best place for us to go to when it comes to knowing and defining our identities, first and foremost, is the book of Genesis. Genesis contains the creation story which includes the creation of humanity. Many scholars attribute this book to Moses as part of the first five books of the Bible which he has written. This creation narrative is authoritative, as God’s word, in defining who we truly are. We will learn in our passage (which is Genesis 1:26-28 and chap 3) that there are three important chapters of our identity. I call it chapters, other than I love reading books, but because it is a story, a narrative about who we are as human beings.

 

Main Idea:

That is our first point, asking “Who am I, or who are we? We are created by God purposefully with His own image. The first chapter of our identity, I AM AN IMAGE OF GOD [imago Dei]

Two words were used to define our identity as created being by God. First is the “image” then second is “likeness” (1:26)In brevity, the image pertains to the vertical relationship we have with God, as Father and child. While the likeness is for our horizontal relationship with all creation, as rulers or stewards of the world. P. Gentry and S. Wellum call it “servant kingship or rulership.”

Through this event, sin entered the history of humanity. We know that this is true. We commit sin on a daily basis. We struggle a lot, we conform to secularism, embracing temptations, and enjoying our vices. We rebel against the idea of our “true” identity as the image of God. Some say, “We do not need God,” or others are antagonistic about His existence. Why? Because we think we are just fine.

Indeed, the second chapter of our identity is, WE ARE SINNERS IN NEED OF REDEMPTION.

Indeed, we have free will, but this free will that we have is always diverted and tainted by the sinful nature that we bear. We are still the image-bearers, we are still rational, we feel, we know things, we seek someone transcendent to us. But we cannot do it alone.

This is true, Paul said in Ephesians 2:1, “we are dead in our sins.” All of us, “we are sinners (Rom 3:10,” we all fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).” We try to be morally good, but we fail. We blame others instead of admitting our sins. In Genesis 3:11-13, Adam blamed the woman, and the woman blamed the serpent. Even Paul in the last part of Romans 7, struggles so much in wanting to good but ending up being defeated by the indwelling sin that he has.

This redemptive plan is ultimately fulfilled in Christ. With that, the third chapter of our identity is that “WE WERE REDEEMED BY GOD.”

To make it clearer, and I will be ending with this, let us look in the books of Romans 5:12-21, and 1 Cor. 15:22, 45-49. Both stated that it is because of the first Adam (one man) that sinned entered the world and death through sin. Likewise, the redemption for all sinners came through one man, the last Adam, Jesus Christ. Christ redeemed us from our sins, let us quickly read it in Col. 1:13-14, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

 

Conclusion

In a word, we are God’s image, sin entered and ruined this image, but Christ came and redeemed our image. To wholly exemplify our identity, we ought to conform to Christ’s image. This story continues and we will discuss more chapters of our identity in the coming Sunday. So do not miss out on this series on defining our identity in Christ.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
January 31, 2021


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