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.

 

 

Text: Galatians 3:7-16; Genesis 12, 15, 17

Abrahamic Covenant: The Promised Seed (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Similarly, a seed reminds me of God’s promise to humanity. A promise of redemption and saving grace. This seed—this time an offspring—was already told as early as Genesis 3:15 with Adam and Eve. Then once again, a covenant is given to Abraham by God.

Background:

The Abrahamic Covenant started in the call of Abram in Genesis 12. In verse 2 of chapter 12, we know that God told Abraham that he will have a great nation and will be a blessing to the whole world. It states, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”

This was echoed in chapter 13 verses 14 to 16, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.” Take note, in here, that the offspring or the promised seed is in a singular form.

Main Idea:

Fast forward we know that this promise became true in and through Christ. The spiritual adoption made us part of this covenant family of Abraham. How and when? We will see that later on.

I. Covenant Provided

The establishment of God’s covenant became official in Genesis 15. Remember that in a covenant, two parties are signing a contract or agreement. God and Abraham representing the chosen people made a covenant with each other. The covenant was ratified after the provision of cutting the animals in halves and passing through those carcasses. That is how a covenant is made.

This is true in 2 Cor. 5:18-19, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

Indeed, God has provided His covenant for Abraham and his people to be hopeful. Looking back at the history of Christianity, Israelites, and the faithful remnants of Abraham, they all waited faithfully for the coming Messiah. Of course, many drifted away and worshipped other gods. Why? Because of the Fall, it becomes intrinsic for humanity to unlike waiting. We are impatient.

II. Covenant Expected (Waiting Game)

But most of the time, when God tells us to wait, He also intends us to be faithful in Him. That, no matter what happens, in any circumstances, God calls us to be hopeful. We ought to stay still, wait on God, pause, and pray.

Other than the busyness of our lives, we tend to forget how God shapes us at the very moment of our waiting. Our problem is we always want to skip the process. Bro. JR and I have been watching historical war movies. I realized that—and I am echoing Ptr. Jebo Banzuelo— “When there are no battles, there are no victories.” We tend to drift away from the process and looking for shortcuts.

God is working in beneath our hearts. Setting foundations for more potential growth. Don’t just focus on our growing outwardly, instead start by growing inward, deeper in His Word. (Like building a house, we need a foundation first).

Despite the presence of instant gratification that is crippling in our culture, we Christians should model how to wait. Remember that waiting is not doing anything. I realized that “to wait” is actually a verb. Meaning, an action word. Waiting is doing something. It is actively waiting. Likewise, when we wait upon the Lord’s coming, we actively wait for it. We do something as we wait.

III. Covenant Fulfilled

Through learning the covenants of Creation and Noah, we know that God is faithful and true to His words. This gives us an assurance that God will fulfill His promise just as how He remembers it very well.

The fulfillment of the covenant in Genesis chapter 17 verses 4-6 is found in Galatians 3 and Romans 4. “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram[b]; your name will be Abraham,[c] for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.”

As I end, let us read the last verses in chapter 3 of Galatians, “26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Conclusion:

The promised seed is Jesus Christ. The promised covenant family or Abraham’s descendants is the Church—followers of Christ. Amen? Same as how Abraham—later Isaac and Jacob, waited for the promised seed, let us also be faithful in waiting for the coming of Christ. As we wait, let us participate in God’s kingdom.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
June 6, 2021

 

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

 

 

Text: Genesis 9:1-17

Noahic Covenant (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

In understanding the Bible, the covenants are the bookmarks of the whole unity of the Scripture. Whenever we try to understand certain passages, only through the light of covenantal narratives, themes, or principles can shed deeper knowledge into it. Divine covenantal acts are the EULAs (End User License Agreement) that we need to understand even at least at a fundamental level.

Background:

Likewise, after learning God’s covenant of creation last week, wherein we pondered upon God’s gracious act and loving-kindness towards Adam and Eve. Today we will be learning about God’s covenant with Noah and all creation. Yes, this covenant is not merely for Noah and His family but to the whole world including the earth—nature, animals—all living things.

After Adam and Eve were sent outside the garden of Eden, the couple started living their lives away from God’s overflowing provision as a result of their rebellion against God. Despite their consequence, God has provided ways and made sure that His presence was still felt by His creation.

Main Idea:

In chapter 6 verses 5, 11, and 12, God saw the wickedness of humanity that even made him grieved deep inside His heart. This shows that our God is personal and able to sympathize God with His creation. As against the Deists who tell that God is a mere sovereign transcendent God who already left His creation or to the Nihilists who say that God is already dead. In here, we are assured that our God sees, feels, and intervenes in His creation.

Despite the overflowing corruption, darkness, and evilness of the world. God responded through His divine justice that He will punish these people accordingly. And we know that God’s just act is to sentence all people to death—the necessary and deserving consequence to all people. Yet, God has been gracious to preserve life.

This makes us realize that our God is covenant-fulfilling. The same to what Anand Mahadevan, He is the one that we listen to in our Bible study series, that God assures His people that He is faithful to His covenants.

As part of these ideas that God fulfills, we can see some parallels in the story of the image of God and Noah’s narrative. In verse 1, we can see that Noah is also called to be fruitful and to multiply like Adam. Verse 2 shows that Noah is also expected to subdue the earth and rule over the bests and all living creatures. Verse 3 portrays God’s provision of food for nourishment. Lastly, God limiting this provision in verses 4-5.

The last thing that I have said shows that God is not just preserving life but God is the Lord of Life. Verses 1 to 7 of chapter 9 is the preamble or prologue to the main establishment of the covenant with Noah. Before we go to that last point, let us dwell more on my second point.

God opposes anything that ends one’s life because life itself is God’s gift despite any challenges and struggles that you are experiencing now. This was a providential thought because when I was interviewed about my view on euthanasia and suicide, I was quickly led to this passage that murder is always wrong.

What is the relationship between assisted suicide and suicide to murder? As I have said, euthanasia is “murdering someone”—assisting someone to death by murdering them. In a definition, murder is a premeditated act of killing a person. Hence, euthanasia is murdering someone. What does God say about murder? Even prior to the Mosaic 10 commandments, God already made it clear that murder is sinful.

This is also the same with suicide, if euthanasia is murdering someone; suicide is “murdering yourself”—and is also wrong in God’s sight. Extending this thought, assisted killing is also evident in abortion. Premeditated, with intention, and taking away someone’s life especially those who are weak, most vulnerable is also murder. And in verse 6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.”

Even infants bear the image of God. In Jeremiah 1:5, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” next, Psalm 139:13, “You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.”

Finally, God being a covenant fulfilling God and the Lord of Life, He is also a promise-keeper God who remembers His covenant.

After the preamble of verses 1 to 7, in the next verses of our passage, in verses 9, 11, and 15, we can see that this covenant is purely God’s initiative, God’s act of unilateral or unconditional covenant. In those verses, the words “my covenant” signify that this is purely God’s work. That nothing from us is expected, it is just God giving his self to us. 

This promise is sealed by giving a rainbow as a sign of His covenantal promise. A promise that God will never destroy the earth by flood. Take note that “four times” God said “never again” (8:21, 9:11 [2x], 9:15).

Conclusion:

God is indeed a covenant fulfilling God, the Lord of Life, and a promise-keeper God. “The unmerited favor and kindness of God in preserving his world in the covenant of Noah creates a firm stage of history where God can work out His plan for recusing His fallen world. It also points ahead to the coming deliverance in Jesus Christ.

Finally, this promise of God through the sign of a rainbow should lead us to doxology. Meaning, it ought to draw us to worship God. In verse 15, I was personally comforted in the phrase “I will remember My covenant,” meaning that God truly remembers. And by seeing a rainbow, after the rain, this promise is an “everlasting covenant” (verse 16).

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
May 30, 2021

 

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

 

 

Text: Genesis 1:26-31; 2:15-17

Creation Covenant (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Why do people tend to commit things that are told not to do so? Example: “do not touch the pot, it’s hot”—then, we still touch it and say, “oo nga, mainit.” Or my mom would say to me before, “do come home late at night,” so I would follow her, I go home after midnight around 2am or 3am. Another one, in the Philippines, there is a sign that says, “do not cross, use the footbridge.” Yet, people still cross and do jaywalk.

Why talk about this? Because this attitude is not only true today but also during the time of Adam and Eve. Let us dive deeper into God’s covenantal pursuit and humanity’s response.

Background:

God established a covenantal relationship with humanity—of course, with Adam and Eve as the image of God. Take note of this, the mere fact that imago Dei signifies “likeness” or in Ancient Near East understanding— “sonship,” points that humanity can relate to God. Indeed, God communicates to humanity, he relates with them, appoints them, calls them, and established promises and stipulations with them. In fact, God created them to join Him in the grand narrative of His creation. This covenantal relationship is both vertical and horizontal. Vertical, our relationship with God (1:27); horizontal, our relationship with the whole creation (1:26, 28).

Main Idea:

As preached last Sunday, a covenant entails a relationship. Adam and Eve have a relationship with God as the image of God. A covenant also is somewhat an agreement, a stipulation, between two parties. But it is the stronger party that initiates a covenant. Hence, our subtitle God’s Pursuit, Man’s response.

To this though also, as usually debated, and sadly often causing a division, is the false dichotomy of the sovereignty of God and man’s freewill. Let me reiterate a term that is biblically sound and theology accurate. The term is “antinomy” meaning two things that seem to contradict but are inseparable and reasonable.

Let us check chapter 2 verses 15-17:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Verse 15, covenant purpose is to labor in God’s creation with Him for His glory. We talked about this a while ago in chapter 1 verses 26 and 28—to rule over, to be fruitful, and subdue the earth.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;

Verse 16 is the covenant provision, Adam and Eve are provided with all their needs to live and enjoy God’s creation. This is in fact important to note that they could have treasured this benefit from God instead of taking it for granted.

17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,

BUT!!! In verse 17, this is a covenant condition/ stipulation. Meaning, they are to enjoy everything, to live and worship God by keeping His commandment, following the covenant purpose to subdue earth and rule over it, to enjoy their lives as husband and wife. But they should not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Again, God is sovereign, yet He permits His creation to express their love. Remember that there is no genuine love in coercion. You cannot force someone to love you, if then, it is out of fear and untrue.

for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

So, what happens, if they eat it? The next phrase in verse 17 states the covenant consequence or curse. We already know the story, in chapter 3, Eve then Adam ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God’s Amazing Grace: His Pursuit

Despite man’s corruption, rejection, and rebellion against God, God’s grace abounds, and His steadfast love endures forever. Right after Adam and Eve sinned—covered their sin, hid it, and blamed others even God—God has already prepared and established a plan to redeem His creation.

In Genesis 3:14-15, God tells that in His covenant, He will still fulfill it and be faithful to His words. He even showed compassion to them by making garments for them and God, himself, clothed them (3:21). He was one step ahead with His creation; indeed, He is the author of this grand narrative. Wherein, the fulfillment of this Gen 3:15, the seed of the woman who will crush the head of the serpent is embodied in Christ.

Remember that in a covenant, there is a curse and a blessing. You will receive a consequence if you fail to keep the covenant, but you will receive the covenant blessing if you have kept the covenant. In chapter 3:22, they could have lived forever in the Garden of Eden with God.

Providentially, it is not too late for us, remember Christ as the last Adam, He is also the only way towards these promises: flourishing life, a promise of eternal life, and a being with His new creation—no more pain, cry—just pure joy and love.

Conclusion:

After learning about the creation covenant and God’s amazing grace, we indeed know that both relationships are important—vertical and horizontal. To that, let us also balance these relationships that we have. First, a vertical relationship with God, our very priority in our life. He deserves our number one service, faithfulness, and love—worshipping Him and dedicating our lives to Him. Second, our horizontal relationship with our family, church, friends, and neighbors. Exemplify Christ’s love to these people and show them God’s grace.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jesey
May 23, 2021

 

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

 

 

Text: Psalm 103:11-19

Understanding the Covenant – Hesed and Emet (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

The hesed and emet are used entirely in the Bible when speaking of God’s covenanted love to His creation—especially to His people. Indeed, hesed and emet are repeated four times in our passage today, Psalm 103:11-19, (vv. 4, 8, 11, 17).

In our passage, the recipients of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness are for “those who fear the Lord” (11, 13) who are—also—the ones who keep the covenant of God (17, 18). The terms hesed and emet are essentially used for a covenantal context.

Main Idea:

Most importantly, let me use Dr. Thomas Schreiner’s statement, “If we don’t understand the covenants, we will not and cannot understand the Bible.” Indeed, the covenants are the backbone or framework of the overarching narrative of the Bible.

What covenant? Biblically, there are five major explicit covenants. These are Noah’s, Abraham’s, Mosaic/ Israel at Sinai, Davidic covenants, and lastly, the new covenant. To further understand, I have here a short clip that some of you have already watched recently.

A covenant may be defined as an “Agreement/ partnership; relationship.”

In a limited explanation, it is somehow when one is to be married. In marriage, you make a vow or a covenant with the person you are marrying. In short, a covenant signifies a relationship. But God’s covenant is more than an idea of marriage because it is not a mutual or equal authority, right, and power.

In Ancient Near East, a covenant is initiated by the “stronger party,” ie. King, tribal leaders, or the head of the family. Likewise, God initiated a covenantal relationship with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Israel, David, and the exiled Israelites.

My second point, a covenant can be “Conditional or/and Unconditional (or Unilateral).”

The main thing here, God, out of his hesed and emet, continued to be faithful with his covenant to his people. On the other side, Adam, Eve, Abraham, Noah, David, Moses, and the Israelites failed over and over again. And just like all the former covenant partners, we also fail to keep God’s covenant and commandments with us. We fall short in our loyalty and faithfulness to Him.

Unlike God, who is always faithful and steadfast in His love—hesed and emet. We, mere beings, are stubborn, incompetent, and unrighteous. As it is written in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short in the glory of God.”

This brings us to our last point, “The New Covenant.”

Out of all the covenants, the new covenant is the climax of all the covenants fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. (read Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Saving the best for last. The climax of the story and the center of the grand narrative of the Bible is Jesus Christ. From Genesis to Revelation, they all point to Christ. Indeed, another way of interpreting the book of Psalms is through a Christological lens. Meaning, seeing Christ as the psalmist or inside the psalm. Here, focusing on verse 19, the eternal establishment of God’s kingdom, His kingship, as related to the Davidic covenant is of course fulfilled in the person of Christ.

The very awaited Messianic King of the Israelites is not a military-king but a suffering-servant, who will atone for the sins of humanity, overcoming death through resurrection, and establishing an everlasting throne is fulfilled in no other person but Christ alone.

Conclusion:

We already know that being part of a covenant signifies a relationship. It is the church, then, that is part of the new covenantal family. To this covenant relations, we are called to be faithful to God, yield to the Holy Spirit, and look unto Jesus. (as written in verse 18)

I know that this sermon is somewhat doctrinal in its structure. On the next sermons, as I maintain my goal to shepherd the church by equipping all of your corporately, it will be both consecrative and doctrinal.

Application:

As we apply what we just learned, God—despite the shortcomings of humanity—remained faithful to His covenant. Even still now, He remains faithful to each of us. Out of His hesed and emet—steadfast love and truthfulness, He calls us to be part of His family and participate in His kingdom.

As part of our Christian walk and sanctified in this life, we ought to conform to this kind of covenantal love. This time, let us be serious in making promises to other people, even in the smallest form of your word. As it is written in Matthew 5:37, “Let your ‘yes be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’”

 

by Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
May 16, 2021

 

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

 

 

 

Text: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Loving God by Ptr. Jerome Ocampo (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

I do not know certainly what tradition in public reading of the Holy Scriptures you belong but as we read God’s Word and finished it reading, I am requesting you to respond after I close it with this remark, “This is the Word of the Lord.” And you will reply, “Praise be to God for His Word.”

Let me read to you Deuteronomy 6:1-9. In your church bulletin, this specific portion of the Scripture is called the shema. Let me read God’s Word for you today.

Background:

Perhaps a little background to help us understand what transpired the writing of this greatest commandment. The promise of God through Abraham is being fulfilled slowly. Exodus 1:7 reminded us how faithful God is in keeping his covenant with Abraham. . . it reads:

But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Main Idea:

God is faithful to keep his promise even though he knew that the next generation is no better than the first. And yet, by grace, God gave them again His law and His Word. The re-giving of the law literally means Deuteronomy or second law. In this book, it is divided into 3 long sermons. The text we have read a while ago falls on the second. And from here we see, the exclusivity of love expressed to YHWH as Israel’s only object of affection.

The first driving point that we need to see is the unchangeable nature of God’s design to flourish our faith. Let us look at verse 4, shema. In most of the translations it says, “Hear.” But that word does not completely capture the essence of how it is used in almost all part of this book. Using some tools, the word shema is used for more than a thousand times in the Old Testament.

The unchangeable nature of God’s design to flourish our faith is for us to hear, learn, and obey what God is saying. In this second law, YHWH is instructing His people that the problem is not about not knowing what God wants them to do to fulfill their side of the covenant. The problem is their heart. The problem is that they do not obey God. They do not learn what God is saying. They do not pay attention to what God is saying.

Number two. The undivided attention God yearns to flourish our faith. Why is it that God is very particular by saying in loving him, we should give our all? Because failure to observe this loving him in a divided way will always lead to idolatry. And it is bad for our souls. Their hearts are always prone to wander.

Loving God with an undivided attention means obedience to God. Israel always fail. It is a pattern that makes us sad as we continue to read the following books. Somehow, it feels like our depravity is without hope. But God, in His grace, puts up a new covenant. It is in Christ that we see how we are ought to love God completely.

I will be brief with this one, the unrelenting passion God desires to flourish our faith. Everyday with unrelenting passion, we love God. It happens together. God gave this command both to his people (Israel and church). The idea of loving him is expressed by how our communities love him through our passionate commitment to help others love God with all our heart, soul, and might. By this, the world will know that we are God’s people.

Conclusion:

You see. Only committed people do this. In everything we do, whether in home or at work, loving God should be the unrelenting passion that we should have.

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

When was the time that you are not with your hand? Or perhaps, the time you did not bring your head? The commitment of God’s people in loving him should be as natural as it gets. It should be our desire for us not to possibly love God all the time. It should be always.

Union Community Bible Church, may the Word of God flourish in your life as a church as a testament of God’s glory to all nations in our pursuit as you love God with all your heart, soul, and might. May the Lord richly bless you

 

by Ptr. Jerome Ocampo
Muntinlupa Baptist Church
May 9, 2021

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

 

 

 

Text: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Giving as an Act of Worship (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

That is our problem, we are trying to create our own formula and removing God from the equation. This is also true when it comes to our finances. We want God to give us this and that, but once we already have it. We put God at the very last of our priorities, but God is not even on our list oftentimes.

Background:

In our passage, Paul is reminding the church at Corinth that they have the duty to give and participate in the collection for the church at Jerusalem. Let me give some initial points about giving. First, we can see that collective giving to the church was practiced in the New Testament church. (Another example is in Acts 4:32-37, and the prior verses about the Macedonian churches).

Secondly, Paul is not just aware of the common practices of the churches but also eager in reminding and warning them about this essential act as faithful followers of Christ. Other than reminding them, Paul encouraged them to also look at how the churches in Macedonia were looking up to them and faithfully doing the act of giving to the church.

Lastly, the act of giving is more than just an outward act. It is an attitude of our hearts. It is an inside-out act. We are giving out of our grateful hearts to revere and worship God. Giving is a transformational experience for Christian spirituality.

Seven principles about biblical giving:

  1. God’s ownership
  2. God is the Ultimate Giver
  3. Beyond Tithing
  4. Purposeful and Freely Giving (v. 7-8)
  5. Cheerful Giving or Generous giving (v. 7)
  6. Sowing and Reaping Principle (v. 6)
  7. Kingdom-centered Giving

Conclusion:

For my conclusion, let us evaluate your giving budget formula: (take note, I do not have any access to the database of our tithes and offerings; even I am not exempted in the giving of tithes and offerings).

Salary – bills – spending – savings = tithes/ offerings
(Bills + spending) – salary = debt (no savings, no tithes)
Salary – tithes/ offerings – savings = generous giving (then bills and another spending)

 

*Do not spend more than what you are earning. Be wise. Be biblical. Let us give! Is God first in your finances, wealth, and giving? Or are you the same as the person that we watched a while ago?

 

by Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
May 2, 2021

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

 

 

Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34

Looking Forward and Godward (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

In Psychology, our past shackles our present, hence we are still bound by these events in our life that affect our very present. But the alternative is looking to the future, letting the future—which is spotless and still clear—define the things that we do in our present.

Covenantal Background:

Likewise, God calls us to “look forward to what lies ahead of us” (Phil. 3:13). In the same verse, it states that we need to forget what lies behind us. This phrase does not mean that our past is inessential, but it contextually means that we do not need to be preoccupied with the things or events in the past because it pulls us away from what God intended for us. It distracts us to reach the goal and forward-looking.

We know that the “futuristic” way of Thomas Frey is based on a historical survey, research, and other secular sciences. But we need to understand that even in the Bible, God calls us to do likewise. Remember that we are told to “conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27). The term “conduct” means to follow or to live like you are part of this empire or kingdom. Paul is telling the church at Philippi to live as if they are already in heaven. Why? Because all Christians are already kingdom citizens.

Main Idea:

To be clear, take note of this, the Israelites looked towards the future of the coming Messiah. Once it was fulfilled in Christ, the disciples looked towards the inauguration of the kingdom of God commenced in His death and resurrection. Afterward, the early church, together with the disciples, after the ascension of Christ, looks toward the future return of Christ, His second coming for the completion and consummation of all things. Indeed, throughout the Bible, the people of God are looking ahead, forward-looking, and focusing on what is set before them in the future.

In other words, Israelites hang on to this messianic hope—future-looking, focusing on what is ahead of them—both forward and Godward. It is in this certain future that they still have hope—a living hope.

Now, in verse 31, it speaks about the last days—we are living the last days, which is also known as the days are coming. It was inaugurated during the realization of the “new covenant.” What is this new covenant? We learn in verse 31 that it speaks about the unity of the divided kingdom—they were both included in the covenantal promise.

Focusing on verses 33 and 34, understanding that this new covenant is different from the old one. In verse 33, God said, “I will put my laws in their minds and write it on their hearts,” this statement alludes to the 10 commandments which were written in the two tablets given to Moses. Being part of the new covenant entails that this law is now in our hearts. These are no longer isolated nor ignorant to us, but instead, we know that these things are part of our daily living.

This also points to Ezekiel 36:26-27, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

Finally, the gift of forgiveness that God will no longer remember our sins is only possible through the availability of this new covenant. That is why Israelites eagerly waited for the coming messiah because they will be once and for all forgiven. Being forgiven entails being put back to the promised land, having the blessings of God, anyone now will be released from the bondage of sin; those who are part of the new covenant will now have the opportunity to have shalom—wholeness and flourishing life.

Similarly, as the Israelites looked forward and Godward in the coming of the messiah—fulfilled in Christ, we—therefore, as Christians—also need to do likewise, to look forward and Godward in the coming of Christ for the completion and restoration of all things. In His return, the Celestial city will be brought down, the presence of God is now felt in our faces; no more cry, no more pain, no more depression—it will just be full of joy, love, peace, and wholeness.

Conclusion:

Looking into Hebrews 12:1-3, it shows us that the idea of “forward and Godward looking” permeates the entire Bible. We are called to “look unto Jesus,” we already tackled that focusing our life on Christ is both forward and Godward. It is in this manner of living individually and as a church that we can truly experience and maximize the goodness of our Lord and Savior.

With the help of the Spirit who leads and points us to Christ, we—UCBC—will be able to stand firm, keep the faith, moving forward while clinging to the covenantal promises of God! Let us contemplate the beauty and the unspeakable joy of God’s faithfulness to our church in pursuing godliness, future hope, and full satisfaction in Christ.

 

by Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
April 25, 2021

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