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: 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: Colossians 1:24-29

Context: Paul wrote this letter to the Colossian church. Colossae is in the southwest of modern-day Turkey. Paul was writing the letter as a prisoner (house arrest) in Rome. He did not church plant the church in Colossae; it was Epaphras who planted the church there. In Paul’s third missionary journey, he stayed in Ephesus for three years, and it was there that Epaphras (Epaphroditus) heard about the gospel and was discipled by Paul. In return, when Paul was imprisoned, Epaphras assisted him and told him about the updates in Colossae. Though everyone seems to be growing in their church, it is sad that false teaching is creeping into their community and households. Hence, Paul writes a letter to equip them.

  • Verses 24-25 speak about the suffering of Paul every time he proclaims the gospel of Christ.
  • Verses 26-27 The mystery of the gospel is that the Good News is not only for the Jews but also for all people, the Gentiles. Take note that Colossae is outside the region of Israel but most likely has a strong population of Jewish people.

Two Kinds of Revelation:

    • General/ Natural – human conscience, nature/ creation, morality, and common grace
    • Special – the Living Word (Jesus) through the Written Word (Bible) – salvific in nature

Paul’s Dream/ Goal for the Colossian Christians: “perfect/ complete/ mature” (Colossians 4:12)
Paul’s prayer to the church is to “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (1:9-10)

  • Verse 28 It was not enough for Paul to see people make a profession of faith in Christ, as important as this is. Teleios could be translated as “perfect,” but full perfection will be attained only when Christ returns and believers are fully transformed. Until that time, the maturity Christians are to seek stands in contrast with the immaturity of infancy (cf. Eph. 4:14). Paul ministers so that every person will be complete in Christ.
  • Verse 29 Paul struggles—with all his energy—to help Christians grow and mature in Christ.

Three Dreams of UCBC:

  1. UCBC’s growth and maturity in Christ
  2.  Develop mature youth and YAs
  3. Everyone learns how to disciple
  • Verse 7 – “learn” [manthanō] links to “disciple” [mathētēs]; more than merely listening to a simple gospel presentation, Paul makes it clear that the gospel involves systematic instruction in the faith and in how to live as a Christian.

Conclusion: We Have a Dream

We have a dream that one day, we will see everyone forgiving one another.
A day when everyone is busy with discipling over watching movies.
A day of being busy reaching out to others for Christ over busy reaching the American dream.
A day when our kids, our youth, are passionately studying the Word of God over getting exhausted playing games and entertaining themselves.
A day when we can encourage one another, pray for one another, and live out the Christian walk over dealing with some petty issues of disagreements and conflicts.
I pray for this dream that everyone will grow and mature in Christ.


Rev. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
July 30, 2023


References: ESV Study Bible; Photo by Gelgas Airlangga: https://www.pexels.com/photo/shallow-focus-of-sprout-401213/




Text: Matthew 4:1-11

Betwixt the Scylla of Counterfeit Revival and the Charybdis of Consumerism
UCBC Last Quarter of 2022


In ancient Greek mythology, Scylla and Charybdis were the names of two sea monsters situated on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Italy. The fearful monsters were located close enough to each other that they posed an inescapable threat to sailors who sought to pass between them. Charybdis, in that area, is actually a whirlpool but is not big enough to be a monster. The rocky shoals nearby may have inspired the thought of the monster Scylla. Although these mythical beings are debunked, they have real-life explanations. (Leroy Seat via Leslie Hill’s email to PJP)

Many have been so intent on escaping Charybdis that they have sailed straight into the jaws of Scylla. But I repeatedly assert that we must always be careful not to flee one extreme only to fall into the opposite extreme. The Challenge: Avoiding Charybdis meant passing too closely to Scylla and vice versa. Accordingly, contemporary Christians are confronted with the challenge of having to pass between the Scylla of Counterfeit Revival and the Charybdis of Consumerism.


Matthew 4 narrates the event when Christ was tempted by the devil, Satan. However, though tempted three times, Christ victoriously defeated and overcame all these temptations. This event portrays the impeccability of Christ—his sinlessness. Christ is all-powerful, holy, and worthy of praise.

First temptation: verse 3, hunger (essentials). Second temptation: verse 5, to jump off the temple (protection and safety). Third temptation: verse 8, the devil offered him material possessions of the world and glory (the very definition of success today). It is in this story where we will see anchor ourselves.

Main Idea:

We need to find the balance to sail straight and steer away from Scylla and Charybdis. How? Illustration: Myanmar Motorcycle. We need to find focus on Christ, his vision for our church, and the present leading of the Holy Spirit.

Christ exemplified this balanced life. Luke 2:40 “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” And John 1:14, Christ has the fullness of grace and truth. Without balance, leaning too much on truth leads to legalism (just a set of rules); on the other, extreme grace leads to antinomianism or “a license to commit sin.” Christ saw We must find balance.

As a church, where are we right now? Show the three waves. Wave 2 is after church development, recalibration, and preparation. We now enter the program demonstration where we focus ourselves on implementations, collaboration, and spiritual renovation. Many big words in there.

Putting it in layman’s terms. Both in the concept of escaping Scylla and Charybdis and maintaining balance not to fall on a cliff, we need to realize our past (history), present (essence), and future (vision). (1) Past, looking behind keeps us from moving ahead and prone to danger. A balance of Present and Future, but the future must affect our present. James KA Smith wrote that (1) Understanding the Past, (2) Facing the Future, and (3) Living Faithfully in the Present are the things we need to realize as Christians.


The North Star is the anchor of the northern sky. A landmark, or sky marker, helps those who follow it determine direction as it glows brightly to guide and lead toward a purposeful destination. It also has a symbolic meaning, for the North Star depicts a beacon of inspiration and hope to many. Fret not, our North Star is Christ. Our hope is in Christ. Let us apply our vision in this last quarter of the year.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
September 25, 2022




Text: Amos 6:1-7


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


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

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

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

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

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

The dangers of complacency

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

How do we overcome complacency?

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


The Gospel (Good News) in Amos

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

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


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



Text: Titus 2:1-8

A Sound Christian Living (Full Sermon Manuscript)



One of Paul’s main concerns was the false teachers teaching a different gospel. Either they are teaching a false doctrine or mixing their doctrine with their former mystical or traditional superstitions. Titus was assigned to Crete to oversee the churches in different towns. He was told to assign elders to advance and support the expansion of the kingdom of God.

Main Idea:

Many say doctrine is sooooo important—yet they do not live in accordance with what they believe. Others say doctrine is not important as long as we show our love to one another. But according to our passage: (Main point) Right Doctrine leads to Right Behavior.

Right doctrine and right behavior correlate with one another. Each is important. Each one is vital to Christianity. The next question is how to achieve these goals?

Reading the verses from 2 focuses on men. Verses 3-5, focuses on women. Lastly, verses 6-8, points to the younger generation. Here, we see that churches during that time were already a mixed-age congregation. There are adult men, adult women, young adults, and young people.

Fathers, as stated, you are to model self-control, love, steadfastness, and sound faith. Can we see these in your life? If yes, praise God. If not, strive harder. We need you to model these qualities so we can learn and conform to these teachings.

Mothers, older women, as stated, you are called to model Christian living. Not just in actions, but also with your words. Not slanderers, but the truths about Christ. Teach them to love as well. Love your family so they will also love their family in the future.

Also, young people, youth listen. Respect the adults. Honor your parents. As stated, learn from these people. They may be a well-spring of wisdom coming to the fount of Christ. There are many things that you can learn from them. Practical life lessons. Do not just spend time playing and doing social media. Start scheduling sessions with the adults. You can talk to them personally. Learn from their mistakes and failures.

Amidst this fallen world, let us exemplify integrity, dignity, sound speech, and model good works. Why? Because if we cannot see any difference from people who live outside Christianity with us, then nothing is attractive with our relationship with the Lord.


Live a sound Christian life. Meaning, do not say that you believe this, then you live your life in a different way. If you are kind here in our church, you should also be kind outside. If you are generous with your friends, then you should also be generous when it comes to your tithes and offerings.

Do not live a double life. Who or what you are in your home should also be who or what you are with your friends, workplace, or even here at the church. Again, you are not a secret agent who needs to hide your identity. You do not have multiple identities. If you are a Christian, your identity is in Christ.

Do not hide your weaknesses, vices, and hidden sins. It will and will later manifest. We are all wretched and corrupted. Indeed, the church is a hospital for sick people. Yet likewise, you go to hospitals to get well. Christ does not want us to stay sick, let us be well in the Spirit. Live a sound life.


Ptr John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
September 19, 2021

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