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: Romans 15

Introduction: Culture of Self-Reliance and Self-Centeredness vs. Mutual Acceptance and Total Dependence on God. (Read Romans 3:9-18; Jeremiah 17:9)

What is dependence? Proverbs 3:5-6, “to lean on your own understanding” is to be independent of God—meaning, you can survive life without God in your life.

Background: Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Church in Rome. In our passage, Paul is looking forward to visiting them before going to Spain to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. Paul reminded them to have “Total Dependence” on the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Main Idea: Paul tells Christians of four matters to exemplify such total dependence:

  • Dependent on one another grounded in the Scriptures (1-6) – Weak and Strong analogy. (14:1) Accepting one another. Those who are weak (indifferent, dogmatic, legalistic, and immature in their faith) need those who are strong in faith to encourage and build them up (15:2).
    • The Christian life centers on strengthening others—endurance (not tolerance, or indifference)
      • That is why it is important to be active in the community of believers: church, small groups, and prayer groups. (yes, be yes; and no, be no).
      • “One mind and one voice.” But where are your small groups now? What’s really challenging is that those who are not participating are the ones who accuse the church of not doing anything or progressing at all. Do not be like that.
    • Dependent on Jesus Christ’s work (7-13) – Christ’s active obedience was the fulfillment of all the prophecies stated in the Old Testament. This specific passage tells us that our security, our assurance, and our confidence in depending totally on Christ is 100% sure. The Christ that we worship is totally dependable and trustworthy. Have you ever had a friend or someone whom you can totally depend on? Other than Ivy, whom I depend on very much, my pastor-best friend Jerome Ocampo is dependable. Having someone whom you can rely on brings overflowing hope and assurance.
      • However, total dependence on Christ requires one major thing in our life—self-denial.
      • This attitude is Christ-centeredness or conforming to the likeness of Christ. When Christ entered our world, he emptied (kenosis) himself; he denied his will and obeyed the will of the Father. Likewise, we are called to depend solely on Christ, not on anyone else, especially not on ourselves—only on Christ! “You lived to die, rejected and alone…” (Above All song)
    • Dependent on the Power of the Gospel (14-22) – “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed…. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10, 12; Cf. John 14:6) How? Remind yourself of two things:
      • Salvation – salvation happens only once but is applied daily. No person here says that he or she does not need to hear the gospel of Christ anymore because he or she has been a Christian for a long time. Paul here deals with that reason in verses 14-15; despite knowing that Christians in Rome were already well-knowledgeable about the gospel of Christ, he still preached to them the wonderful grace of God and reminded them of the power of the gospel of Christ. If this is a challenge of Paul, then why do we resist such an opportunity and privilege to study God’s word? Why are you not being in one mind with the church?
      • Transformation (Sanctification) – When dug deeper, this human heart bears humanity’s sinful nature. Indeed, it is “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9). What does humanity need in order to have a better condition of the heart? Just like any heart problem, diagnosed as fallen, sinful, and corrupt (Rom. 3:10, 23, Eph. 2:1), it needs surgery; more than that, actually, it needs a transplant. A renewal of heart.
        • This renewal of the heart is called the circumcision of the heart (Deut. 30:6; Romans 2:29). It is taking away the impurities of the heart and making it brand new. Indeed, the promise of a new heart was given to the new covenant people. God said that He would give them a “new heart.” Further, He “will remove…their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26).
        • A renewed—or regenerated heart—is God’s promise for His children to live righteously, freely in His grace, and enjoy the life He has given them. Through Christ’s righteousness, humans became righteous—injected (imputed) with His purity and holiness and clothed with His grace and mercy (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:27).
        • God promised that He will preserve His children. Part of this promise is the operation of the renewal of the heart (Jeremiah 24:7). Indeed, it will only be possible through God’s Spirit (Ezk. 36:27). The renewal of the heart is inseparable from the indwelling of the Spirit. And as Christians, the promise of the indwelling of the Spirit is given to His children alone (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:14-17).
      • Dependent on the Joy of Following God’s Will (25-33) – For God’s glory, not ours (also, 6, 13)
        • God-centered – “I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ… so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.” (29-33)
        • The goal is missions and evangelism to Spain:
          • Missions – church planting, outreach, and community services.
          • Lottie-Moon on Thanksgiving Sunday.
          • Outreach giving: Bottles to Blessings

Conclusion: Last week, we talked about wholehearted trust—having a contrite heart, constantly trusting God, and communal trust. Today, we have heard another trait of a disciple of Christ—we should embrace Total Dependence on God in this world of self-reliance. After completing the task given by God to him, William Carey said on his deathbed to stop talking about him and start talking about his savior.

“Did you call me?’ he asked. “Yes; yes. Mr. Duff,” said Carey solemnly,” you have been speaking a great deal about Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey. I beg of you, that when I am gone, nothing may be said about Dr. Carey. Don’t talk about Dr. Carey. Speak, I beg you, about Dr. Carey’s Savior.”


Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey
November 12, 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 2:19-22

Introduction: Belonging to the visible church is not optional for followers of Christ. We are not disembodied people who only meet spiritually. We gather and belong to a physical, tangible, and visible community—that is the church.

Church hopping or church scrolling is what many Christians are doing today on the average weekend. The 2022 State of Theology study found most Americans (56%) don’t believe every Christian has an obligation to join a local church. Only half among the evangelicals and churchgoers believe that Christians need to be church members.

Background: Written for the church in Ephesus by Paul during his imprisonment in Rome. Church membership has been the practice of the disciples of Christ in biblical times.

Main Idea:

  1. Citizens [sympolites/ politeo]
  • “Strangers and aliens” have no full rights and privileges in a place where they’re not a citizen compared with those who are citizens. Illustration: embassy of a country.
  • Your salvation is affirmed and endorsed by the church. Salvation is an individual experience with God but it is through the church that your experience is validated.
  1. Family [oikos] Members of the household of God
  • Nicodemus in John 3 asks, “How can I be part of the family of God?”
    • You need to be saved, to be born again (3:7). Conversion is required.
    • Moreover, baptism follows as the confirmation of your public confession that you follow the faith that we have in Christ.
  • Only those who are Christians, truly converted, can belong to the church. Anyone can worship and come to the church every Sunday. But only Christians can be a member of the church.
  • Once you follow Christ and accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior, your conversion experience testifies as your passport to becoming a family member of the household of God.
    • All Christians have been adopted to the family of God.
      • Ephesians 1:5, “he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
      • Romans 8:15-17, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
      • Galatians 4:4-7, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[a] 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[b] Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
  1. Presence of God – Holy Temple and dwelling place for God’s Spirit
  • Creation in the Garden of Eden – Pillars of Fire and Clouds during the time of Exodus – The Ark of Covenant – The Tabernacle – The Temple
  • The Church as the temple means that the presence of God is made visible through the church.
    • 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
    • 1 Peter 2:4-5, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” // Jesus in Matthew 18:18-20

Frequently Asked Questions?

What happens if we do not become members of the local church?

  1. We are disobeying the command to gather regularly (Hebrews 10:24-27)
  2. We confuse both real members and non-Christians about what it means to be a Christian.
  3. We become dishonest. (uninvolved, inactive church members, 1 mos; 3mos; 6mos-1 year)
    1. How can we love someone we do not see regularly?
    2. The opportunity to bless and be blessed.

How to be a member of the local church, UCBC?

  1. You need to be a Christian. (Ask the Elders if you have not received Christ yet).
  2. A baptized believer (Baptism affirms your confession)
  3. Membership and Covenant Classes (Understanding what it means to be part of the church/ Elders)
  4. Confirmation of the local congregation.


The point is not that attending church makes you a Christian. The point is that becoming a member of the church is what Christians do.


Rev. John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey
October 22, 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: Luke 14:25-33

Watch the Sermon (FB Live)

Objective: To encourage the congregation to consider what it’s going to cost them to follow Christ; to implore those who are on the fence to go all-in for Christ; and to remind them that they are not alone in their walk of faith- they are surrounded by other believers and Christ himself will give them strength to be his disciples.

4 Headings:

  1. It will cost you everything
  2. You are either in Christ or you are out of Christ
  3. You are not alone in your walk
  4. Today is the day to follow him


Luke 14:25

  • Jesus gaining popularity
  • Crowds attracted for the wrong reasons:
    • To see miracles, to hear wisdom, to go where everyone else is going to
  • Jesus concerned with quality of faith not quantity of followers

Luke 14:26 

  • First term and condition of discipleship
  • Sounds like discouragement (CF Luke 9:57-62)
  • Jesus wants followers to consider the cost
  • Setting terms and conditions
  • Physical v. Spiritual following
  • “Hate”
    • Semitic hyperbole
    • Jesus not telling us to break love commandments
    • Means to love less (CF Gen 29:30-31 and Matthew 10:37)
    • Love for Jesus greater than dearest things
    • Love for others considered “hate”
  • Emphasize “cannot”

Luke 14:27

  • Second term and condition of discipleship
  •  “cross” slightly different meaning
  • Today it has a positive connotation, Christ, Christianity, means by which we are saved
  • To 1st-century people “cross” was the most brutal form of execution (Eg. Matthew 16:21-22)
  • Equivalent of “take up your electric chair, gas chamber, lethal injection, firing squad”
  • What did it mean for the 1st-century person?
    • Philip Ryken quote: “Even before Jesus was crucified, they would have recognized the cross as a symbol of rejection, humiliation, and excruciating pain. Crucifixion was the most gruesome form of execution in the Roman world, a death penalty reserved for traitors and criminals, and slaves. To see a man carrying his cross was to see a man going to die the worst of all possible deaths.
    • Taking up your cross is a form of self-denial (CF Luke 9:23)
      • Emphasize “daily”
    • Discipleship and sanctification (CF Romans 8:12 and Ephesians 4:22)

Luke 14:28-30 

  • Illustration to show what it will cost to follow Jesus
    • Vacation illustration
    • Illustration of our inadequacy to reach heaven on our own
    • Not enough good works to gain salvation
    • We must look to Christ (CF Matthew 11:28-30)

Luke 14: 31-32

  • Illustration to show what it will cost NOT to follow Jesus
  • Alexander the Great example
  • The weaker king is the believer prior to coming to Christ
    • Our sins placed us at enmity with God (CF Ephesians 2:1-3)
  • The stronger king is God
    • He demands justice
  • “A great way off” is time we have until judgment day
  • Do you have what it takes to stand against God?
    • If not we must surrender and ask for terms of peace: the gospel

Luke 14:33

  • Third term and condition of discipleship
  • Jesus requires us to give up all that we have
    • Does not mean we cannot have anything
    • It means that if Christ calls us to give up the things in our possession, we must willingly do so for his sake


  • Terms of discipleship:
  1. Love Christ more than anything else in the world
  2. Carry our cross daily
  3. Renounce all that we have for Christ
  • Jesus savior AND lord
  • Exhortation:
  • Be all-in for Christ 
    • Matthew 6:24
  • Follow Christ today 
    • Calling of Peter, Andrew, James and John (Matthew 4:19-22, Luke 5:11)
    • Calling of Matthew (Matthew 9:9, Luke 5:27-28)
  • What do we gain from denying self and following Jesus with all our love for Him?
    • Freedom, joy, life, closer more intimate relationship with Jesus (Jeremiah 33:3)


Bro. Joe Recto
UCBC New Jersey
September 10, 2023

Watch the Sermon (FB Live)




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 John 2:4-6

Text: 1 John 2:4-6 – To know that we are in Christ

4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Introduction: Each person here in this church has a future destiny, either heaven or hell. The evidence that you’ll be in heaven is if you are a child of God, or in another term, a Sheep of the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ. My question for you today is, “Are you a sheep or a goat?” We will go back to this later.

God’s Will is for us to be like Christ (1 John 2:4-6):

Many think that it is okay to remain a “baby Christian” for their whole lifetime. Spiritual growth by conforming to the likeness of Christ is not an optional extra for Christians. Growth is the evidence of life. If a tree is alive, it grows. If an animal is alive, it grows. If a Christian is spiritually, he or she must grow. If there is an absence of growth, then you are dead. “Being alive means growing, and growing means increasing and advancing.” 2 Corinthians 10:15; Eph 4:15; Col 1:10; 1 Thess 1:3; 1 Peter 2:2.

The way that led to the cross. Believers need not and cannot repeat Christ’s unique saving death, but they can mirror his faith, love, piety, obedience, and self-sacrifice, and this pattern of life will give greater assurance “that we are in him”

God’s Plan is for us to belong in Church Discipleship (Matthew 28:19-20):

The problem today is that churches are busier with church activities and fellowship without any emphasis on disciple-making. Dietrich Bonhoeffer—a Christian martyr during the Nazi period—said that a church without discipleship is problematic; it expresses cheap grace.

Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.

Discipleship means adherence to Christ and imitating Christ (Ephesians 5:1). Discipleship is not just another department in the church. Everyone is called to disciple someone.  “We treat the church as a welcoming TV show instead of a family that you are a part of.” – JD Greear

Meaning of “Disciple,” Greek translation μαθητεύω (mathéteuó) – 250 times, means to be the student or follower of someone (Christ); to follow his precepts and instruction; to be like the teacher. (Luke 6:40)

What is discipleship? The goal is to lead others to be like Christ. Why? Christ commanded us to go and make disciples. However, our mistake is that we make it “coming” instead of “going” (Matt. 28:19-20). We need to meet where people are. Another mistake is that we professionalize it. We only let church leaders or gifted people do discipleship. How did Paul discipled Timothy (2 Timothy 3:10-11)? How did Jesus disciple the Twelve Apostles? The answer is holistic—heart, mind, physical, and spiritual. In today’s terms, it is called mentoring.

God’s Desire is for us to be part of His Flock, His sheep: John 10:25-27, Sheep illustration:

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

By doing so, God separates us from the goats (Matthew 25:31-33). Explain why they are being separated.

  • Full of pride
  • Unforgiving and Unrighteous
  • Zero Evangelism
  • Despises Discipleship

Conclusion: Show the Video about Sheep being called by the Shepherd. Go back to the Introduction.


Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey
August 6, 2023



Text: Philippians 1:1-11; also, 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Main Idea:

First mark: a pray-er disciple (3-4). Here, Paul prays for the church at Philipp. He gives thanks to God during his regular prayer time. And whenever he prays for them, he has this joy when thinking of or hearing about them.

Second mark: participation, partakers of grace, partnership entails they are connected with one another. How are they connected with Paul? The church at Philippi supports Paul financially. Hence, Paul giving thanks for their connection with one another.

Third mark: equipped with the gospel; “the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (v. 7b); “with knowledge and all discernment” (v. 9).

Fourth mark: worship in excellence (v 10); “pure and blameless,” “to the glory and praise of God” (v 11).

Last mark: encourager; “I hold you in my heart” (v. 7), “I yearn” (v. 8); “love may abound more and more” (v. 9); there is joy in their gospel partnership (v. 4-5).

How about if we are struggling or going through a lot? Can we still encourage them? Paul was writing this letter thanking and encouraging those Christians outside the prison. While for us, just a minor inconvenience, and we started complaining about how others ignored us.

1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Be an encourager. Encourage one another. This mark had been true to the Philippian church. Paul was saying, “Just as you are doing.” This is not new to them; this has been present in their church. Likewise, let us also do the same. Each UCBC member is to be an encourager, a source of encouragement.

What happens if we do not have these marks? We quench (or grieve) the Holy Spirit. ** When the Spirit is grieved, the believer’s soul is restless, being punished—as it is just to do so—and losing the sense of joy and comfort in one’s life. Christians experience dullness in life, are easily tempted, feeling of brokenness, a feeling of being left behind, ingratitude, indwelling sin becomes more active, contempt, and bitterness. More results are being poor in spirit, easy to stumble, dead faith, dissatisfied, does not see Christ in his life, insensitive, living without peace, and lazy pursuing holiness. Richard Sibbes said, “Discouragements are not from the Spirit,” but rather caused by our fleshly sinful nature.”


This is my encouragement to all of you. Spiritual progress is “rooted in what God has done (cross), is doing (through the Holy Spirit), and will do (“new things” last days)—read verse 6; righteousness comes through Jesus Christ, not on our own (verse 11).


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
May 7, 2023


Photo by Tara Winstead: https://www.pexels.com/photo/red-check-mark-over-black-box-8850706/