Text: James 4:7-10

Introduction: One of my favorite movie genres is with ancient or medieval kingdom narratives. Kingdom symbolism in historical period drama, fiction, and some mystical movie series and narrative permeates the portrayal of an omnipotent King, a prince or princess, to receive royal status and the subject, his people, to follow his royal command. Likewise, how to read the Bible is through this kingdom lens, from Adam in the Garden of Eden to Abraham’s call to have a nation, mosaic commandments like a king giving his covenant and benefits of those who will be in covenant with him to the promise of eternal King in the lineage of David and fulfilled in the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity, Christ.

            A primary virtue that is very important to be a faithful follower of the King is SUBMISSION.

Background: Warning against worldliness and reminding Christians to submit to God fully.  The author of this book is James. He was the half-brother of Jesus. Still, he did not use his bloodline to overpower or demand authority from others. In chapter 1, verse 1, he introduced himself as a “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Main Idea:

  1. Submission as Surrender – What is submission? It is a surrender (e.g., war, wrestling match, or UFC MMA fight). Surrender is to yield your power to the most powerful. Sun Tzu said in his iconic war strategy, “Only enter battles you know you can win. Avoid battles you cannot win.” To surrender is to recognize that God is powerful and you are not.
    1. Those who yielded ought to pledge their allegiance to their new ruler, the new King. The former ruler in our lives was the devil; the present king sitting on the throne of our hearts is King Jesus. My question is, “Who rules over you?” Is it Jesus, yourself or the devil?
  2. Saying No to the Devil – Submission to God begins with resisting the devil, its temptations, and all the impurities of our hearts. Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
    1. John Owen’s famous words, “Be killing sin or [sin] will be killing you.” How do we kill sin? (Eph. 6:17, “…Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”)
    2. Satan will flee just as he had fled from Christ before when he was rejected three times during the temptation in the desert in Matthew 4 (Luke 4:13).
  3. Seeking God’s Proximity – God draws us near to him. It is a mutual proximity. God is near us, but we need to respond to his invitation to be near him. He does not force anyone to draw closer to him or to love him. God in Christ expects each of us to be closer to him.
    1. I find it interesting how James urges us to draw ourselves after resisting the devil. It only implies that when we are far away from God’s presence, the next thing we realize is that the devil is now our best friend. How is your time with God? Or did you just enjoy your bonding with the devil last Friday?
  4. Shaping and Sifting – Cleansing is a purification ritual in Ancient Jewish times. Romans 9:20-21 supports the thought that God shapes our lives. However, Christians have calloused hearts that they do not care about their sins, pride, lies, and other subtle sins. They just laugh about it. That’s why James is telling us that the proper reaction in the impending judgment of God in Christ is to mourn, weep, and be broken—this is a sign of repentance. More than shaping, God is sifting us. He strains our impurities until we are filtered to our most righteous hearts. To be a Christian is to be tested, sifted, and sanctified.
  5. Soaring High through Submission – there are more things to reach when you are bowing down and kneeling to pray than raising your forehead with pride and self-reliance. Humility is the Way to Success. We are more Christlike when we are humble.


Conclusion: Give Up and Let Go! The world tells us not to give up on ourselves. That is indeed true, but if it is just about yourself, then you are living in a self-reliant, delusional, and self-made reality. We need to give up everything to God, and let go of pride, unforgiveness, anger, envy, fleshly desires, smoking, drinking, and unholiness.

Illustration: The only person who can go to the room of the president at 3 am is his child. Likewise, the persons who can approach the king are his children.


Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey
November 19, 2023



Text: Isaiah 26:3-4; Proverbs 3:5-6

New sermon series this November with the Theme: “Traits of a True Disciple” based on the passage:

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart (1-Trsut) and lean not on your own understanding (2-Dependence); in all your ways submit to him (3-Submission), and he will make your paths straight (4-Listening).”


Introduction: We have a lot of Trust Issues. In today’s sermon, the Prophet Isaiah is challenging the people of God to Trust in God Wholeheartedly—without any hint of doubt or hesitation. The Power of Looking Up Before You Look In

Text: Isaiah 26:3-4, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

Background: When the kingdom of Judah started not listening to God and trusting on their own, God called Isaiah to prophesy the impending destruction of their kingdom from the hands of Assyrians (modern-day Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey). Still, because of God’s grace, God promised that he will secure those who will wholeheartedly trust in Him.

Illustration: What does it mean to trust Jesus wholeheartedly? I will be using an illustration that will serve as our guide to understand Isaiah’s challenge to Trust God. – The week before I arrived in the US to start my studies in Kentucky, my seminary classmates asked me to join them to hike Mount Pulag (the second highest mountain in the entire islands of the Philippines). Being young, proud, and foolish, I immediately said okay, even without any prior preparation. That started this tragic story of trusting myself. No one told me that it would take at least two (2) days just to reach the highest peak and another day (1) to go. You can do it in one and a half days if you’re a professional hiker.

Main Idea: This might be different from how Prophet Isaiah was telling the kingdom of Judah, but this was the prelude to my journey called “Never Trusting Myself Again.” Indeed, it was an excruciating reality for me. Months after arriving in Kentucky, COVID happened and forced me to be isolated while finishing my second master’s degree. No work, no support, no food, but just fully trusting God. I thought to myself, maybe I was wrong to come here to the States. But fully entrusting God.

  1. Constant Trusting – the keyword in Isaiah’s words is steadfast or whose mind is stayed on you. It presents the same character of God’s love—hesed and emet. It means unwavering, unchanging, committed, uncompromising, and loyal. It is a continual process of trusting God.
    1. Illustration: one major thing that made me survive the hike to the summit of Mount Pulag is when the local guide told me to “just keep walking”—it does not matter how big your steps are or how small it is, as long as you keep walking, there is progress.
    2. Applying that principle, being steadfast in our trust in God is to be constantly trusting God. Unwavering—he was likened to a Rock eternal—never moving, unchanging. Small steps are still steps and produce progress in our lives. Remember, in Matthew 17:20, when the disciples failed to trust God, Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Even when we are going through trials, trust God.
  2. Contrite Heart – another characteristic of having a steadfast attitude is to have a contrite heart. To have a contrite heart means to be broken, repentant, and ashamed of being proud. Simply saying, being humbled. A humble heart is a requirement for trusting God wholeheartedly. No proud person would trust someone except himself.
    1. Illustration: Do you know when I realized that I could not finish the hike to the summit of Mount Pulag? From the very beginning of the hike. Before entering the trail, you need to climb to the visitor center for the final orientation at the foot of the mountain. That 15-minute climb already proved that I could not do the hike. It was a heartbreaking moment because we had traveled far already, and at the same time, it was embarrassing because the natives there were looking at me and laughing. Only a broken, contrite heart can fully trust God.
    2. Having a contrite heart is a requirement. It is also true during the time when Moses, David, and other prophets asked their people to perform sacrificial rites (compare David to King Saul).
  3. Communal Trusting – this might be my own words, but I realized when Isaiah wrote this passage that it is not only limited to one person who is trusting God. But it is also in the context of community. At first, in verse 1, it tells us about a strong city (community). In the second verse, it tells us about the righteous nation (community). Up at the very end, Isaiah is prophesying that there will be a community of believers of God who will be forever secured. What community is this? The church.
    1. The book of Isaiah is prophetic. It is all pointing to Christ. The virgin birth of Christ, the Suffering Servant, and the covenant of redemption. All of these are in the book of Isaiah and point to Jesus Christ. Specifically, in our passage, the call is to trust God communally. Not just by one person but together. (last week’s togetherness)
    2. Illustration: I do believe that I cannot survive the hike to the summit of Mount Pulag alone. I needed my friends, the local guide, and even those hikers whom you’ll encounter during that 3-day hike. (though the picture is the Mount Ulap hike)
    3. We need to trust God and Jesus together. Not only me as the pastor. But all of us. The enemy, the devil, enters through a hole of unfaithfulness and doubt to penetrate and destroy the community of believers—the church.
      1. That is why, I want you to be serious with your small groups, bible studies, prayer groups, and fellowships, because it is there that you cultivate your heart, mind, and life in trusting God—a Wholehearted Trust!

Conclusion: A wholehearted trust consists of constant trusting, contrite heart, and communal trusting. Let us take the challenge of Isaiah to trust God wholeheartedly—that is a trait of a true disciple.


Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey
November 5, 2023



Text: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Introduction: Last Friday night, during our Nexus session, we delved into the topic of Christ being capable of sympathizing with us because he had experienced all forms of suffering. What amazes me is that these young people reflected that it is soooo much better to have someone who can relate with your pain and suffering. It brings joy, relief, and assurance. Indeed, our lives are not designed to be isolated alone. We need one another.

Background: The previous verses talk about how Everything in Life is Vanity! Life is something fleeting and elusive. All the endeavors and pleasures of earthly life are only temporary. When one sees the consequences of sin in this fallen world, one is left in utter frustration, anger, and sorrow. Vanity, indeed!

Main Idea: When God promised that He would be with us; that he would never leave us nor forsake us in any situation in life. And bearing the name of Immanuel meaning God With Us. All of these are genuine promises and embraced through the presence of one another. The presence of God becomes tangible when we are together. In all things, the Spirit indwells in us and makes God’s presence visible. (Mathew 18:19)

The Qohelet, the writer of Ecclesiastes, values the community. Togetherness is not something to be achieved. It is a gift that needs to be received. Jesus had his disciples and inner circle (Peter, James, and John); David and Jonathan; Ruth and Naomi; Jesus, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus; Elijah and Elisha; Job and his friends; Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; Paul, Timothy, and Titus… and so on… God desires you to invest your life in your inner circle like Christ did.

Threefold Community:

  1. Celebrating the reward of togetherness. (v9)
    1. Illustration: Celebrating Alone video
    2. It is crucial to acknowledge that the rewards of togetherness extend far beyond the individual. We find strength and fulfillment in coming together to celebrate not only our own successes but also those of our brothers and sisters in faith.
  2. Suffering and supporting one another. (v10)
    1. Jurgen Moltmann calls suffering suffering if you do not have someone to suffer with.
    2. We learn from Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” When we suffer, it is in the togetherness of our faith community that we find solace and strength. Our faith teaches us that, together, we can find comfort and resilience even in the face of life’s most challenging moments.
  3. Sharing warmth and care—love. (v11) – read Romans 13, the summary of the commandments is Love.
    1. In a world that often feels cold and indifferent, our togetherness provides a source of warmth, comfort, and care. In 1 Peter 4:8, we are reminded, “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Our love for one another, expressed through acts of kindness, encouragement, and support, creates a haven of care and compassion.

Illustration: Threefold Cord is not quickly broken. I like the fact that the author did not say that the cord will not be broken. It can still be broken, but not easily. Brokenness in this world is inevitable. That’s why the author was shouting that All is Vanity! However, in God’s community, there is the blessing of togetherness and the power to withhold any trials and sufferings that will come through.

The Danger of Isolation, according to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is the more destructive the power of sin over that person and the more deeply the person becomes involved in it (pornography, lying, vices, and other subtle sins). The devil wants a person to be isolated; it withdraws the person from the community (Life Together 112). You need someone to be accountable to your Christian walk; do not despise correction and rebuke. It is a gift from the community.


  1. Invest in your “inner circles” your small group or prayer groups. Why does being part of a small group discipleship matter? (pics of small groups)
  2. Celebrate small successes and blessings in life.
    1. Beautiful baby of Sis Mariecel last week.
    2. Mark’s new laptop story.
  3. Suffer and sacrifice.
    1. Do not think that your task is more important than your presence when comforting someone, or when listening to someone.
    2. Besides, our suffering reflects Christ’s suffering for us, and through this, we share with him.
    3. Bottle ministry goal. (picture)


Our togetherness is only made possible by the cross of Christ. Only those who truly have the faith in Christ share the communion with him.


Rev. John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey
October 29, 2023



Text: Ephesians 4:28-32

Introduction: We live in a society that embraces instant gratification. “Instant gratification can also refer to the act of receiving a reward without having to wait.” Many of us want to skip the line (fastfood), escape the process (pain), we are in a rush, are impatient, and just want instant relief.

And applied in the Christian life, we expect ourselves and even the people surrounding us to be instantly mature, understanding, perfect, and transformed. Today’s reality was also the reality of the NT.

Background: After Paul insisting on unity in church (4:1-16), he went further for the maturity of the church (4:17-27). Paul’s concern was not just unity but also maturity. As I was studying this passage carefully, I came to the conclusion that Unity marries Maturity; or simply, unity and maturity are inseparable (4:13).

Main Idea: But today’s sermon will focus on the goal of unity and maturity, that is, having a transformed life. This transformation of life is greatly based on what Christ had done on the cross and not on what humanity can do for themselves (Read verses 7, 21, 32).

However, many of us thought that after praying the “sinner’s prayer” it is already done. You are already a Christian and can go on with your former life. This is a false doctrine called “easy believism.” God calls not only for a change in our lives but transformation through a journey called “process.”

What is the process based on Ephesians 4? Examining verse 28 first.

  1. Changed Person – “sudden, concrete and defined; external influences” – justification
    1. “Thief must steal no more”
    2. “no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths”
    3. Desire to become an engineer
    4. “Put off your old self”
    5. Patience, humility, and forgiven
  2. Transformation Process – “incremental, 1% is still progress” – sanctification
    1. “must work, or study”
    2. “only helpful for building up others”
    3. Study engineering
    4. “Put on your new self”
    5. Long-suffering, conflicts, trials, and brokenness (31)
  3. Transformed Person – “influencing change, from within, recreating, reinventing” – restored image of God – Christ-exemplifying
    1. “sharing with those in need”
    2. “so others will benefit” for edification
    3. Build and invent new engineering things
    4. “for we are one” unity
    5. Gracious and forgiving others (32)

The “process” is part of God’s plan for us. We encounter this every day in our lives. We are in the process of waiting for the second coming of Christ. We are in the process of healing our generational and cultural trauma. Transformation does not come instantaneously; it goes through the process.

Likewise, Romans 8:29 – 30 –> Justification > sanctification > glorification


Changed Person

Transformation Process

Transformed Person

v. 28: Anyone who has been stealing (sin) must steal no longer (change)

but must work, doing something useful with their own hands

that they may have something to share with those in need.
v. 29: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths

but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs

that it may benefit those who listen. (edification)
vv. 22-25: to put off your old self

put on the new self

for we are all members of one body. (unity)

For those God foreknew he also predestined; And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified

to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)

to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it (v. 7);
just as in Christ God forgave you. (32)


How can we sustain this transformation? The answer is “In Jesus” Philippians 4:19, “19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”


Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey | September 17, 2023




Text: Psalm 42:1-11

Introduction: The Sons of Korah – from the lineage of Levites, the priests, and people who were assigned to the duty of Tabernacle, Temple, and this context accompanying King David during a war. As part of the military, they also offered music and choir for the people of David.

THE BAD NEWS – Three Hardships in this Life.

Verses 1-4: Emptiness – we feel empty, a never-ending void that none can satisfy // the deer pants for flowing water signifies a person who longs to worship God, seek his presence, and his Word // this thirst is quenched through public worship and prayer // he was away and longed for church

Verses 5-8: Depression – Even children of God struggle with anxiety and depression // to the point of being drowned //Though counseling, psychotherapy, and medicines help us overcome depression, it is through God in prayer, singing, and worship that we find complete healing.

Verses 9-11: Rejection – #CancelCulture // they mock my God because of my wounds, pain, and sufferings; remember Job’s wife and friends // They ask for evidence about my God.

Nevertheless, the Choirmaster in verses 5 and 11 (even 43:5), calls us to put our hope in God.

Illustration: When Christian and Pliable fell on the Slough of Despond, Help helped Christian.

THE GOOD NEWS –  John 4:13-14, “Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

These Hardships Draw God Near: Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

These Hardships have a Purpose: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

These Hardships have Limitations:  2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

Conclusion: Do Not Lose Heart! 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

The same composer of this wonderful song wrote the famous line that we sing, entitled “Still.” In Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God…”


Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey | August 20, 2023




Text: 1 Corinthians 4:14-21

Introduction: Parents are their children’s teachers, guides, and life-long sojourners.

Context: Discipleship is about caring for and guiding the flock of sheep. Paul was instructing the church of Corinth about their Christian living. It was through his disciple, Timothy, that the Corinthian church learned more about the Gospel of Christ. There are three elements of discipleship: the discipler, the disciple, and the didactic.

  • The Discipler (Apostle Paul) – verse 15-16

Paul, as a spiritual parent (father), is different from the common “guardian” or tutor during ancient times. “Guardians” are the ones who were either educated servants or a freedman guiding the children of their masters, or showing them how to go to school, the marketplace, etc.

Paul was a caring parent to the church at Corinth. Someone who provides, secures, guides, disciplines if necessary, and teaches them the Word of God.

Both faithfulness in Jesus Christ and loves the church are requirements for a disciple. If you love Jesus, you love whom He loves–the church.

  • The Disciple (Timothy) – verse 17

A Biblical Definition of a Disciple

A disciple is one who follows Christ, trusting in him alone for salvation, worshiping his person, loving him with whole heart, imitating his life, and obeying his teaching, living dependently by abiding in Christ, walking in the Holy Spirit, meditating on the word of God, engaging in communion (prayer), and partnering with the body of Christ (local church) resulting in the transformation of the mind, the heart, and the life and leads others to do the same.” by Dr. David Talley

  • The Didactic (the Lesson/ the Gospel of Christ/ Word of God) – verse 17b

UCBC Disciples Path – from Lifeway

    1. The Beginning: First Steps for New Disciples
    2. The Way: Discovering Christ’s Path of Discipleship
    3. The Call: Counting the Cost of Following Christ
    4. The Truth: Engaging the Foundations of the Faith
    5. The Life: Living the Spiritual Disciplines
    6. The Mission: Joining God in His Work


Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey | August 13, 2023



Text: 1 Peter 1:14

1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Background: How do they cleanse themselves before?

  • Purification
  • Animal offering
  • Washing

Transition: But all these are fulfilled and gifted to us by faith in Christ. Those who have faith enjoy this blessing of holiness. (Rom 4:5)

Main Idea:

  • Faith alone justifies, but faith alone does not sanctify… James 2:17
  • Holiness is more than just a duty. I remember one of my favorite movies, A Walk to Remember; the guy was happily fulfilling the woman’s bucket list of dreams. The guy wasn’t complaining but was excited and exerting much effort.
  • It is difficult. Especially for younger ones. Porn, addiction, discarnational digital self, separating biblical view of human love, community, success and life to secularism.
  • The problem of indwelling sin. (Rom 7:20)
  • But we must continue doing the “habits of holiness.” Not just once, but a never-ending cycle of doing and doing and doing and doing. Pray, read, and commune. Holiness is a progressive work.
  • “To communion with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of his people — these things will be the holy man’s chiefest enjoyments.”~ JC Ryle

Your identity is more than what you do
– image of God (one mind with God)
– The habit of agreeing with God’s judgement, not your own, hating what he hated, loving what he loves
– A person who most entirely agrees with God is the most holy person – JC Ryle
– Abiding in his walk

You are what you love
– Christian worship doesn’t just teach us how to think; it teaches us how to love, and it does so by inviting us into the biblical story and implanting that story in our bones” (p. 85). ~ James KA Smith

You become who you worship
– Christlikeness
– If you dislike singing, worshipping, listening, reading the Word, and praying. Then what makes you like to go to heaven? Heaven is a never-ending time of worship.


Why do we need to cultivate habits of holiness?

  1. It is the only sincere proof that we love Jesus
  2. It is the sound evidence that we are saved
  3. It is a strong command of Christ


Are you holy? Will you continue to be holy? Hebrews 12:14 “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Holiness comes from Christ alone.



Rev. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
March 26, 2023




Text: 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

Introduction/ Background:

Written by Paul for the church at Thessalonica (modern-day Greece) in 50-51 AD. Paul with Timothy and Silas planted a church in Philippi. They were imprisoned because of some conflicts with other Jewish leaders and Gentile hearers. After their escape, they arrived in Thessalonica and started another Christian community at Jason’s household. However, the persecutors of Paul followed them there with some mob. This caused Paul to move out to Berea, Athens, and Corinth.

Paul’s aim is to give thanks and encourage the church at Thessalonica for standing firm in the gospel of Christ. Moreover, he emphasized the second coming of Christ in a later chapter of this epistle. In verse 2, the evidence is that he was continuously praying for them (Eph 1:16; Phil 1:3).

Main Idea: 

The supremacy of the gospel of Christ in the lives of the Christians in Thessalonica is known to almost entire Macedonia and other regions of Galatia. The term supremacy means a condition of being superior to all others in authority, power, or status; “the supremacy of the king”, in short, preeminence. What are the supremacy principles of Christian living? Five Principles of Gospel Supremacy in our passage:

Gospel Efficacy (verse 3)

  • 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
  • Efficacy means power, benefit, value

Gospel Assurance (verses 4-5)

  • The “chosenness” does not just pertain to individual salvation but speaks about God choosing his people beyond Israelites, which means, including Gentile converts.
  • The power of the gospel of Christ to convert and transform people’s hearts is not dependent on the preacher’s ability to persuade his audience but grounded in the assurance of the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who seals and illuminates the Word of God in our hearts.
    • Eph 1, “13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

Gospel Endurance (verse 6)

  • “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” Philippians 1:29-30 (cf. Acts 16)
  • “… These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” Acts 17:6-7.

Gospel Expression (verses 7-8)

  • “and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year, they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch, the disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:26

Gospel Transformation (verses 9-10)

  • “turned from the idols”
  • “to serve the living and true God.”
  • While waiting for the return of Christ—the first among us and the One who has redeemed us from our iniquities, sin, afflictions, and the impending judgment of God. (Chapters 4-5)


Let us live out the supremacy of the gospel of Christ in our lives. There is an assurance that God would sustain us through the Holy Spirit, our Helper, and Sanctifier.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
July 24, 2022



Text: Amos 6:1-7


German Christian philosopher Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Christian martyr during the time of the holocaust. In his infamous work entitled The Cost of Discipleship he said, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” In a word, he called for a Christian living without complacency.


The Israelites both from the Northern and Southern kingdoms thought that they were experiencing the Golden Age of their time (780-740 BCE). This flourishing life that they have was the same terminal illness of their nation that bound them to cease to exist after several decades. They did not listen to what Amos told them. Amos proclaiming the oracles from God as a revelation was indeed true.

The fulfillment of the oracle happened when Assyrians conquered Israel in 722 BCE; “In 745 B.C. Tiglath-pileser III would ascend the throne of Assyria, and hardly more than 20 years later, in 722, the northern kingdom of Israel would cease to exist. (ESV Study Bible)”

Main Idea: What is complacency? Is it a sin?

“Merriam-Webster as “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” sha̓ănān – at ease, be secure, “undisturbed, without anxiety”– sometimes “over-security” which reflects arrogance or laziness.” There is a danger that is about to come and yet you are not doing anything.

Is it a sin? Yes, the sin of pride. (This is somehow the same with the parable of the talents who just hid the master’s entrusted treasures since he thought it would be better to just secure it rather than use it.)

The dangers of complacency

  • Verse 3, Complacency is Fatalistic = “bahala na” – fine line indifference.
  • Verse 4, Complacency is Laziness = slothfulness (2 Thess. 3:10)
  • Verse 5, Complacency is Distorted Contentment = lukewarm (Revelation 3:14-22)
  • Verse 6, Complacency is Entitlement, declaring that you do not need God anymore. (Rev 2:1-7)
  • Verse 7, Complacency leads you to perish, be punished, disciplined. (Read fulfillment of the oracle)

How do we overcome complacency?

  • Admit Your Mistake/ Sin (Psalm 32:5)
  • Believe in Christ (Rom 10:9)
  • Confess Your Sins (1 John 1:9)
  • Devote Yourselves in Prayer (Col. 4:2)
  • Examine Yourselves: Every so often we need to do as Paul instructed the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 13:5. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves does not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless you fail the test.” 
    • Even while being professing believers, we can’t assume we’re always in the right. We should continuously search our own hearts to make sure we’re operating from a place of faith, love, and godliness.


The Gospel (Good News) in Amos

But the same God who disciplines and warns us about our complacency is the same God who has a plan to restore, a plan to redeem and revive us. In Amos 9, “God restores” by (1) keeping those who are faithful and (2) preserving the lineage of Jesus—the incarnation, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Fear not since God has a plan to restore us. However, if we are to remain complacent in our spiritual lives, then expect great trials, discipline, and emptying from God. To overcome this complacency, in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
July 10, 2022