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

A Covenant Heart (Full Sermon Manuscript)

Download

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

Abrahamic Covenant: The Promised Seed (Full Sermon Manuscript)

Download

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)

Download

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)

Download

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)

Download

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.