Text: Philippians 1:12-24

Selflessness, Self-Denial, and the Supremacy of Christ (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Endowment Effect or Psychological ownership is a theory that observes the sense of a person’s valuing his or her own possession. This theory has been traced since the time of the Ancient Philosopher Aristotle; he said, “For most things are differently valued by those who have them and by those who wish to get them: what belongs to us, and what we give away, always seems very precious to us.”

But because of the delicate heart that we have, this thought of owning something, making ourselves the center of everything for selfish gains, and entitlement has been a product of a marred view of self-identity, value, and purpose. We just want to put ourselves first. Just as how pop culture portrays and promotes self-love. I mean there is nothing wrong about loving yourself and valuing your life but as a Christian, I think—and biblically speaking, God calls us to go beyond this state.

Background:

Looking back, our passage today in the book of Philippians is a letter of encouragement. Hearing that, it seems that there is nothing special with it. Well… Not unless we see it from the perspective of where he wrote this letter. He wrote this letter in prison. Yes, he was in the moment of his imprisonment when he wrote this letter of encouragement. To add, he actually said “joy” or “rejoice” almost twenty times (16 times to be exact); reminding them about their joy in Christ and to rejoice despite the circumstances and hardships of life.

Main Idea:

Selflessness: To Advance the Gospel of Christ

Despite the status of Paul being imprisoned, he made sure that it is not about himself, or his situation that will be seen but rather how God—in providence—is in control of everything.

Again, even amid that gloomy atmosphere, compared with today’s prisons, prisons during the time of Paul are messier, more miserable, and chaotic. But look at how Paul perceived this kind of situation in his life. In verses 12-14, Paul did not think about himself nor his state but rather the glorious news that the Gospel of Christ is being advanced even inside his prison. The guards were hearing about Christ. This was not the only case that Paul acted in this manner.

Self-denial: To Live and Die for Christ

As Christians, we do celebrate their lives because we know they are already in heaven and experiencing the ultimate joy that we all wait for. Like Paul, being beaten, imprisoned, and mocked—he has longed to “die” and be with Christ because it will be a greater favor for him. Richard Sibbes noted this attitude as breathtaking; he said, “[Paul] knows that Christ is wiser than he; therefore he resigns himself to his disposal, resolving if he lives, he lives to the Lord, and if he dies, he dies to the Lord (Rom 14:8); that so, whether he live or die, he may be the Lord’s.” (read 19-22)

Why did I say that my second point is self-denial? Look at verses 23-24, “I am hard-pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

Paul desired to be with Christ soon because it will be a greater favor but he gave up his will and submitted to the plans of God. Submit your will to God. Listen and pray, be prudent, participate in it.

Supremacy of Christ

With all these characters portrayed by Paul, where did he learn these things? The answer is Jesus Christ. Paul started and ended in this passage making the glory of Christ the core reason (11, 26). Why Jesus? Did Christ demonstrate selflessness and self-denial?

1. Christ emptied himself (kenosis) – Philippians 2:1-11
2. Christ was willing to give up his life for his friend. – 1 John 3:16; John 10:17-18
3. Christ submitted to the will of the Father rather than His will. – Luke 22:42-45
4. Christ suffered for the sake of our salvation.

a. The Suffering Servant – Isaiah 53
b. Scourged – Matt. 27:26
c. Beaten – Luke 22:63-64
d. Spit upon – Matt. 27:30
e. Beard Plucked from His Face – Isaiah 50:6
f. Mocked – Matt. 27:26-29
g. Stripped Naked – Matt. 27:35
h. Nailed to the Cross – Matt. 27:38; John 20:25

Conclusion:

Learning today, the attitude of Paul both the selflessness and self-denial were all motivated and driven by the supremacy of Christ in his life. If only we really let Christ sit on the thrones of our hearts; if only we can put Christ and others first in our deeds; if only we think less of ourselves and think more about the interests of others, only then, we can truly experience true eternal joy in our hearts.

There is joy in submission; there is joy in putting others first; there is so much joy in having Christ and letting Him govern your life. Let us pray

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
August 29, 2021

 

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

 

 

 

Text: John 8:31-38

Freedom in Christ: True Liberation (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Freedom today is reduced to a mere memorial. A term that can be easily mistaken with “independence,” “rights,” or to do something you want to do. This shallow view of freedom is a complacent perspective in living a life freed and redeemed by Christ.

Let me give a definition of what Freedom is. Freedom is to do what we ought to do. What we must do as a follower of Christ. It calls beyond the thought of doing what I want to do, instead, I will do what I must do.

Background:

In the context of Second Temple Judaism or when the Jewish people wait upon the coming of the Messiah, they have the perspective that they will be freed once he arrives. Freedom from what? We know that during the first century, the Jews are under the government of Rome and were influenced by the culture of the Greeks.

Similarly, in today’s context, it is easy for Christians to view freedom with liberation from poverty, government oppression, corruption, and embrace the idea of progress towards human perfection. I mean, several of these ideas are not wrong, but focusing too much on these physical matters clouds our mind to the real and true purpose of freedom.

Main Idea:

In our passage, Christ told those who believed in him that the only way to be freed is to abide in His words because the truth sets a person free. Not by any might nor any effort but only through Christ.

I. Freedom in Truth

We know that Jesus is the Truth Personified in John 14:6. Indeed, the truth sets us free. This claim of Christ makes us realize that we now ought to live a life freed from the imprisonment of lies. Lies, conceit, entitlement, pride, bitterness, and guilt all come together. This burdens a person and traps you. It shackles us to move forward and enjoy life.

Lying not only entraps and gives us a heavy burden but also makes us a devil family.
There are only two options here, being a child of God in Truth or a child of the devil in Lies.

“Do not lie” is one of the ten commandments. Liars do not have a place in heaven, Revelation 22:15 states, “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

II. Freedom from the Bondage of Sin

The following verses 34-36 point that all sinners are bound to sin. We all choose to sin; actually, no. Before being a Christian, you do not have a choice (Eph. 2:1). It is in your nature to sin. Because your heart itself is filled with sin. Romans 3:10, 23. Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.”

Meaning, those who are in Christ have now the power through the Spirit to overcome sin and fight against it. You are no longer a slave to sin. In our passage, you are now freed from the bondage of sin. We do still commit sin, but this does not trap us nor make us followers of it. We can now say “NO” to it, repent, and mortify it. Romans 6:22, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

Again, now that we are freed from the slavery of sin, we are called to mortify sin. Read Colossians 3:5-11.

Conclusion:

As I conclude let me read this short prayer of St. Augustine. Augustine of Hippo struggled from lust, fleshly desires, and pride. Yet he was aware of his sins and other sins. He prayed: “Look with mercy on these follies, Lord, and set us free who already call upon you. Set free those also who do not yet call upon you, so that they may invoke you and you may give them freedom” (Confessions, 14).

Who can change a sinner’s heart? Only the one who was proclaimed in the book of Isaiah as the suffering servant who bears the Spirit of God, ought to deliver sinners from their sins and redeem them for his eternal glory, Jesus the Christ.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
August 15, 2021

 

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

Photo by Travis Saylor on Pexels.com

 

 

Text: Matthew 5:43-48

Dissenters Among the Age of #Trending (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

In the 1600s, Baptists (especially the English Baptists in the late seventeenth century) is known for their dissenting spirit (not just for the sake of “to dissent”). Baptists fought for religious freedom amid denominational control and State religion. Baptists advanced the biblical baptism even the entire Christian world sought pedobaptism (or infant baptism).

Where did the Baptist get this thought of dissenting? Knowing that Baptists later became known as the “people of the book (Bible)”, we mainly based our faith and practices on the authority of the Word of God. If the culture says this, we check and analyze if the Bible says so too or not. If not in the Bible, is it regulative or normative? Will this conflict with our goal to become more like Christ? If not, then we explore and make sure that everything we do ought to glorify God.

Main Idea:

There are many things in this world that we need to critically study when it comes to cultural trends. But, as Christians, we are not called to expose or explore the deeper meaning or reasons behind it. Let us leave that to the scholars and academic institutions. Instead, we are called to dig deeper in the Word of God, and from there we apply it in our lives as Christian lenses for our individual perspective. To this thought of having the same perspective in Christ, we become one as the body of Christ.

In verse 43 of Matthew 5, you will see the idea of a contrasting perspective as early as our first verse. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said.” The following statement is a heavy claim that the world teaches “to hate your enemy.” None in the Bible teaches to hate your enemy. Hate is strong word and Christians were never told to hate anyone or anything unless sin.

Verse 44, Dissenting from the previous cultural ideology, Christ calls for a kind of attitude that is not prominent in this world. This love—known as the agape love—is unconditional and knows no ifs or buts. Indeed, as stated also in verse 46, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” It is easy to love those who meet our expectations or those who love us back or those who benefited us. But as Christ rhetorically asked, “what’s the distinction of being a Christian if we are just doing what others have been doing?”

There is a greater love than how the world teaches us to love. The pop culture, the Netflix culture, the anime, the social media world teach us a cultural trend kind of life. But as Christians, our love towards others must not be tainted by any prejudice, discrimination. Our love even towards our enemies is not optional nor selective.

The following statement in verse 44, going back, “pray for those who persecute you.” Ohhhhh it is already difficult to love our enemies, now this? Pray for those people who persecute me? Pray for them? Why would I?

Again, praying for those who offended us is not easy, but is a-must thing to do for a Christian. Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. In this manner, we can exemplify grace and show our Christian love because God told us so and God set it so.

Ultimately, in verse 47, “Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Why would other people desire our Christian living if they can only see the same as how the world live their lives? What makes it different being a Christian, if I can also drink as much as I want, do vices, watch pornography, lust others, satisfy my fleshly desires, and prioritize money, successes, and fame?

This is the problem. If the world does not see churches, Christians as the salt and light of the world, then no one will ever desire to be a Christian. Brothers and sisters, exemplify Christ in your lives. Manifest grace, mercy, compassion, and love; pray for those people whom you do not see worthy of praying.

Conclusion:

The imperative statement, in verse 48, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The term perfect there in Greek is teleios [τελείως], this means complete, whole, same as shalom [or peace] in Hebrew.

Our completeness or having a fulfilled or maginhawang buhay is not achieved by the worldly definition, examples, nor lifestyle. But rather, we can achieve this if we focus our eyes on Christ, live like Christ, and obey His words.

We dissent from worldly ideas not just for the sake of dissenting but for the sake of glorifying God in Christ through the Spirit’s divine wisdom.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
August 1, 2021

 

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

 

 

Text: Colossians 4:2-4

Devote Yourselves to Prayer (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

I will be direct! Prayerlessness invades churches nowadays. Too much confidence in ourselves, extreme pragmatism, and indifference. “Prayerlessness is spiritual suicide.”

Why do we ignore prayer, forgetting, or not prioritizing it? In fact, when Paul reminded the church about putting on the full armor in Ephesians 6:10-20, he emphasized at the last part the importance of prayer. Which is alongside the sword—God’s Word—enclothed with the Spirit of God through prayer. You cannot fight the battles in this world without prayer.

Main Idea:

As said, prayer is a spiritual condition: “Tell me who your friends are; I will tell you who you are.” But for Christians, tell me about your prayer life and I will tell you what kind of Christian you are. Prayer life is like a mirror, it reflects one’s spiritual shape. Do you just pray because you are told to do so? “Prayer is oxygen for the Christians (John Onwuchekwa).” When you do not pray, you feel weak, exhausted, and feel like giving up. Why are you exhausted today? Why are you sleepy right now? Check again, maybe because you have not prayed that today will be all for Christ because today is Lord’s Day.

“Continue (ESV)” or “Devote (NASB)” – meaning, “to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty.”

What hinders our prayer? 1. Lack of faith (James 5:14-15; prayer flows from faith, only those who have the gift of faith can enjoy prayer.); 2. Cherishing Sin (Psalm 66:18, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”); and 3. Unforgiving Heart (Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that the Father in heaven may forgive your sins.”; Matthew 5:23-24).

Other than prayer as a spiritual condition; it is also our spiritual celebration. Hence, we are called to always have an attitude of thanksgiving. Having a grateful heart is a sign of contentment. A sign of humility. Signifies our recognition of God’s authority, power, and rule over our lives.
Every time we have a celebration, we are excited because we know there will be food, fellowship, fun time, and more. This should be our attitude too, despite the struggles of life, we still have someone willing to listen to us, talk with us, and walk with us.

Celebration is not merely just having some fun time, but more of observance. We pray because we would like to remember what Christ had done for us; what God has planned for us; and what the Holy Spirit is still doing for us.

Lastly, prayer points to an end, this is our spiritual motivation. The goal of prayer is more than just what we need, but we take part in God’s kingdom call. We pray for God’s Word to be shared with others.

But the problem most of the time is that we are motivated not because of God’s plan, but because of our personal agenda. We pray because beneath our hearts we want something in return. We pray and try to manipulate God with our own plan.

Then if God did not answer your prayer, you will blame him and tell God that you prayed so hard for this and that but how come He did not answer you. If this, is you, stop blackmailing God. Do not pray and twist God’s arm, that is not possible.

Many churches—or individual Christians—treat prayer as a prescription rather than a life support system. It is not something that you only do when you need something like a vending machine. No. Prayer is an essential part of Christian life for breathing, living, and walking.

Conclusion:

Why pray? Because Jesus prayed. When they asked God, the disciples did not ask God to teach them how to preach; they did not ask God to teach them how to cook, play instruments, or heal; but they ask God to teach them how to PRAY.

Why did they ask Christ to teach them to pray? Because they know Christ as the one who models prayer in His life. We do not ask a person who does not know a thing about what you want to learn. Youth goes to Sebi because he is good at chemistry. We go to Miguel because he is good at music. We go to Jon C, Kuya JR, and more because we know they can advise us about the matters of the church.

The apostles ask Christ because He is an expert on prayer. Christ is the ultimate model of prayer. Christ is indeed the foundation of prayer.

  • Choosing the Twelve Apostles
  • Raising Lazarus – John 11:41-42
  • Feeding the 5, 000
  • Transfiguration
  • At the cross (Luke 23:34

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
July 18, 2021

 

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

 

 

Text: Acts 14:21-28

Biblical Eldership (Full Sermon Manuscript Download)

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Introduction:

Jonathan Griffiths said, “The office of eldership is given in Scripture to provide spiritual nurture and protection for the church. Elders are to shepherd the flock of Jesus Christ through the faithful ministry of the Word and are to lead by godly example.”

Background:

This is Paul’s first missionary journey with Barnabas. After struggling much with these places: Cyprus, Lycia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (these are all in Modern day Turkey [former Galacia]), Paul made sure that they appointed elders in these places to preserve and keep the faith of churches in these places. Which Paul revisited and affirmed the significance of their works.

Main Idea:

1. Conforming to the NT Church

When I was asked to fill up the application form as the interim pastor of UCBC, in the section where I was asked about my view of church administration, I wrote (verbatim): “In the context of the Church administration, I believe in the biblical principle of congregationalism with the plurality of elders.”

Indeed, the plurality of elders is biblical (James 5:14 [Elders to pray for the sick]; 1 Timothy 5:17 [“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”]; Titus 1:5 [Paul telling Titus to appoint elders]; Acts 14:23 [Paul and Barnabas appointing elders].

Observing how the Bible speaks about the “elders,” it is always in a plural form. It presents us that plurality of elders is normal in the New Testament church. That is our first point. If our church ought to follow the Scriptural New Testament Church, then we ought to follow the plurality of the “elders.”

2. Commanded by God in Scriptures

Similarly, God has commanded us in His Word to appoint leaders. In Titus 1:5-9, v.5 only, “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint[a] elders in every town, as I directed you.” Also, in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and in our passage Acts 14 verse 23.

Interchangeable: “The terms πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros), ποιμήν (poimen), and ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos) are all used to describe the same office in the New Testament. Overseers, pastors, shepherds, and elders are all operating as the same kind of servant leader(s) of the church.” (Costi Hinn)

Titus 1:5-9, presbuteros in v5; episkopos in v7; and Ephesians 4:11, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.” (Granville Sharp Rule)

3. Commissions/Calls Elders: Who appoints elders?

The church through the Holy Spirit. In Acts 20:28, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” This is Paul’s farewell to the elders in Ephesus (v. 17).

Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit that calls a person to Eldership. But this is achieved through the church. That is why we have to affirm the appointees or “nominated” to the Eldership position. Now, I know I am a young pastor, but I have seen the dirtiest parts of different churches. When we nominate or appoint an Elder or Deacon, we give out their names because we know the person is really deserving of it.

To give some functions of the Elders:

  1. They are the spiritual leaders and models (1 Peter 5:3)
  2. Teacher/ preachers of the Word (1 Tim 3:2; 2 Tim 4:2; Titus 1:9)
  3. Caring for the souls (Heb 13:17)
  4. Protects the church from false teachings (Acts 20:28-31)
  5. Models Unity (Eph. 4:3, 11-13)

Conclusion:

After exploring the biblical significance of plurality of elders, congregationalism, and elder-led church, we ought to learn more about the matters of functions or roles, qualifications, and other important stuff. I am aware that many of you have learned this before. But being reminded and reviewing it and allowing ourselves to learn from God’s Word again exemplifies the willingness and purity of hearts toward the health of our church—UCBC.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
July 4, 2021

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

A Covenant Heart (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Human hearts are the core of our life. It is the essential part of the body as they say (you can read more about this on our bulletin program.) For today, we will learn the two realities of having a covenant (or renewed) heart, specifically, the new covenant heart.

Main Idea:

In our passage, the picture of circumcision is a mere covenant sign. Example: God made a covenant sign of rainbow with Noah and the whole creation. But the rainbow itself does not bear the promise. It only expresses the promise of life preservation. In the same way, the circumcision itself is not the promise but rather it only represents something beneath and more important.

Hence, my first point of having a “renewed” heart, The Internal Reality.

Circumcision of the flesh is just a surface level. What really matters is the one that goes beyond our eyes—the heart. Obeying, keeping God’s covenant signifies humility, submission, and devotion to God. Hence, we do not merely focus on the external rite, but the inner reality of the sign.

So, when Abraham and his descendants enacted the circumcision proper. It is not only because it is traditional but because it is their expression of devotion, full obedience, and submission to God’s authority. By keeping the sign, they are yielding to God’s order. Acknowledging His power. Depending on God’s word.

Going back, another reality of having a renewed heart is the External Reality. A renewed, or covenant heart, is a heart that is transformed—and continuously being transformed by God by the Holy Spirit.

Linking with the point we have a while ago, what matters is the inner part, so in Romans 2:29, Paul contended for the circumcision of the heart; “No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”

Indeed, by the Spirit, we can do it. Let the Spirit work in our lives and drives us to live righteously and even to speak Life. What do I mean by SpeakLIFE? As our application, as Christians, we know that words are powerful. So, we share these powerful words with other people to encourage them, bring hope.

1. Speak Love – We know that the ultimate love, the very source of love, is Christ. A person cannot fully and genuinely love apart from God (1 John 4:7-9).

2. Speak the Inspired Word of God – Share God’s Word. Meditate upon the Bible. While reading, it is inseparable to also pause and pray God’s Word. Pick up a word, or a thought from your devotion and start praying using that word or idea. This helps us break our repetitive prayer.

3. Speak Your Faith – stand firm and be proud. Just as what Paul said in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

4. Speak about the Eternal Joy in Heaven – let us be excited about this matter. This is our ultimate hope—the Christian telos, eschatological hope. Seeing the church worship God, follow God, and fellowship with one another is already a glimpse of heaven. But we ought to share this eternal joy and ultimate to all people. Let us evangelize, make disciples, and plant churches.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
June 27, 2021

 

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

 

 

Text: Genesis 35:28-29; John 14:8-11

Godly Portraits of Fatherhood (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Today, we will learn how God designed the calling of fatherhood through three father stories namely Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Why these people? Of course, because we have been exploring the book of Genesis for a month. Other than that, the faith of Christianity in the NT is usually linked with these three patriarchs.

The next point will show how human fathers cannot fully adhere or conform to God’s design of fatherhood. Same with these three stories, they all failed, with flaws, shortcomings, and imperfect. Indeed, same with everyone, fathers need redemption from this corruption. The last point is Christological. It points to Christ as the mediator for human fathers to be able to grasp and be transformed into biblical and godly portraits of fatherhood.

Main Idea:

  1. God’s Design of Fatherhood based on the Tri-fold narrative.

We all know the story in Genesis 12 how God called Abraham to become a father of—not just a great nation—but of many nations too. Surveying Genesis 22, we will see God’s delight in how Abraham portrayed his selflessness, righteousness, and faithfulness to God.

Fathers ought to portray the same characteristics: selflessness, righteousness, and faithfulness.

Moving forward, in Isaac’s story in Genesis 28:1-4, we will see mercy, compassion, and even grace in this narrative. How? Remember that Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. Jacob lied to his father Isaac and even deceived him which was tolerated and planned by his mother Rebekah. Still, in Genesis 28 (read), Isaac blessed Jacob and even reaffirmed God’s promise to Abraham and him extending it to Jacob’s future lineage.

Fathers ought to portray the same characteristics: mercy, compassion, and grace.

Lastly, in the story of Jacob and Joseph, knowing how Joseph struggled for most of his days. He was persecuted, left behind, imprisoned, and sold. Despite the adversities, Joseph chose to forgive. But in the story where Jacob is the father, he portrayed humility in Genesis 45:8 and 46:28-30. Indeed, Fathers ought to do the same.

2. Corruption of the Design of Fatherhood.

We all know that due to sin. These fathers are imperfect. (Tell their imperfections).

Reflection: Fathers need to show their imperfection; you are not perfect. You are not a superhero. Even a superhero has a weakness. Show your vulnerability and genuineness. Be true to your character. Do not show your kids that you are perfect but rather show them that you are also in need of redemption. Children, your fathers are no perfect. They themselves are also victims and guilty of their sins.

3. Redeeming Godly Portraits of Fatherhood in Christ Jesus.

In John 14:5-11, “5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Conclusion:

We have explored how God can redeem human fathers from corruption, sin, and imperfection and bring them towards transformation. Being transformed into a godly portrait of fatherhood in and only through Jesus Christ. In Christ, the Father has revealed Himself. In Christ, we can understand who the Father is. In Christ, we can be with the Father. Truly, it is all about Christ. May our fathers also have a Christ-like character. Being godly is being like Christ.

Furthermore, I have included the verse in Genesis 35:28-29 in this sermon. Why? Grounding my sermon from the three patriarch’s narratives, I challenge all the fathers and even extending to all of us here to have the same goal. That when we are asked, if it will be our last day here in this world, how would you like to be remembered?

The same with Job, David, other patriarchs, Isaac’s account says that “he has died, ‘full of day/ years.’” What does it mean to die “full of days”? It means, he was content; he was fully satisfied. Stretching the narratives again, these three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all waited for the coming Promised Seed. Last two Sundays ago, we know that it is Christ—the promised seed.

These three fathers were content and full of their days. May we all have the same goal. That when we face death, we can deem ourselves full of days and face our Master hearing, “you can now enter the kingdom my good and faithful servant.”

 

Ptr John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
June 20, 2021

 

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

 

 

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

Abrahamic Covenant: The Promised Seed (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

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

Background:

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

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

Main Idea:

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

I. Covenant Provided

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

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

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

II. Covenant Expected (Waiting Game)

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

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

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

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

III. Covenant Fulfilled

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Text: Genesis 9:1-17

Noahic Covenant (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

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

Background:

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

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

Main Idea:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Creation Covenant (Full Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

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

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

Background:

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

Main Idea:

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

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

Let us check chapter 2 verses 15-17:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Amazing Grace: His Pursuit

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

 

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

 

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