Text: Matthew 19:16-28


One of the books that impacted my life is The Pilgrim’s Progress. It narrates the journey of a person named Christian, who was lost, hopeless, and miserable. However, throughout his Tomb Raider action-like challenges, he reached the end of his path. But the final challenge seems impossible to accomplish. Yet, he jumped and tried to achieve it. He died. Surprisingly, he reached the Gate and received the prize. How? The final challenge requires dying to self and depending on the Person who created all things. Indeed, a great book that was written during his imprisonment in London.

Biblical survey: [1] Lost Coin, [2] Lost Sheep, and [3] the (Lost) Prodigal Son.

Main Idea:

There’s another story in the Bible that seeks the befitting path of salvation. However, unlike the stories shared a while ago, this ended as a tragic one. Read Matthew 19:16-28.

Christ requires Perfect Obedience not because we can achieve it but to show how inadequate we are in trying to do it by ourselves. Only Christ is perfect.

Sometimes even how hard we try to obey God, it is still inadequate. Like Job 23:11, “My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.” Other times, we are proud that we have been faithful to the path of Christianity and claim that we have obeyed everything. Like the rich man, in Matthew 19:20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Surrender: The Pineapple Story (Illustration)

The befitting path is the gospel way. Christ became like us, suffered and died on the cross, and resurrected and overcame death for us to be part of his family. He knew what was going to happen to him. He foretells his path toward sacrifice and atonement. And yet, he wants us to see this as his Promise. The promise of renewal, entrance to the kingdom of God, and receiving eternal life.


Takeaway? A part of the Christmas story.

May we find our way toward Christ. Just like the wise men (Magis) who followed the path of the Star. 1) sough Jesus, (2) offered full surrender, and (3) obeyed God rather than the ways of man. We may also do likewise.

God seriously finds us and puts us on the befitting path, the rightful one for us to find him finally. “We were once lost, but now we are found.” – John Newton.

Christ chose this path for us.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
December 18, 2022




Text: Hebrews 2:9-18

The Christ of Christmas Sermon Devotional (Full Manuscript)




Without Christ, Christmas is just another secular holiday. The world seems to see Christmas solely for gift-giving, shared fellowship, family bonding, and romantic holidates. It is true that even Spurgeon encouraged Christians to celebrate more than celebrate less. However, every time we take out Christ in Christmas, it diminishes the real purpose of the day.

Suffering: Despite this presence of suffering, God calls us to trust in Him, be faithful just as how Job was, and continue to walk wisely and righteously. God promises that He will be with His people, never leave them, and help them by the Spirit’s comfort and protection. By God’s grace in Christ, we long for the eschatological coming of the kingdom of God where pain and suffering are no longer existing.

Forgiveness and Reconciliation: The vast meaning of the term “forgive” is rich. It pertains to covering up, to pardon, to be merciful, to send away or take away, and more. This forgiveness does not only secure redemption but also transforms the heart of a person to pursue godliness. The author proposes that this divine forgiveness is not limited to vertical reconciliation: God and humanity, but also horizontally: believers and community.

Assurance: God has been in the business of assuring His elect. Still, in the Old Testament God’s promises, encountering His people, and showing signs and wonders was His way to assure His covenantal relationship with Israel. It is understood both in the OT and the NT as God’s gift. A reflection of His grace to demonstrate the certainty of one’s faith. It is best understood as God’s act of letting His children be confident, have peace of mind, and rest in Christ by the Spirit.


At the end of the day, the real reason for Christmas is Christ—the Second Person of the Trinity—preexistent, eternal, and Lord, willingly chose to become fully human, in order to save humanity from the wretchedness of their sin. That is why we celebrate Christmas; it brings us, Hope. Once again, Christmas is a story of second chances, anyone can be whole again. Anyone has the opportunity to be redeemed from their sin. Christmas is an act of grace.

The Christ of Christmas is not just the Savior of the Ancient past, but still the Redeemer and Lord of this present generation. Hope is a person, indeed.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
December 26, 2021

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



Text: Colossians 1:15-17

The Preexistence of Jesus Christ (Full Sermon Manuscript)



The keyword here is “prototokos” which literally translates as “born before”. Not because he is a created being; it clearly states that he was not created, but prototokos points to the thought that Jesus is eternal. He preexisted even before the creation of the world and will always be before the beginning of this universe. Gerard Friedrich says that prototokos does not mean to give birth as firstborn but as a literal chief or head. The very superior person above all things.

A primary point for today is that The Preexistence of Jesus Christ—or His eternality—is foundational to His Divinity. That our understanding of who Jesus is as God is important to how we have understood His preexistence.


Paul wrote this apologetic letter to the church at Colossae to clarify the doctrines about Christ. This church in Colossae was planted by one of Paul’s students or disciples. But why? What is happening here, remember that the place of the church is no longer in Jerusalem or Near-East, but already surrounded by Greco-Roman cities; Colossae was greatly influenced by Greek philosophy and mythology. To give some examples, they were familiar that Zeus is the One that rules over all gods and goddesses. Also, the Diaspora Jewish Philosopher named Philo—to whom we got the term Philosophy meaning lover of wisdom—was also prominent as a teacher in the said place.

Thus, Paul was telling the church that Jesus Christ is superior to the man-made god named Zeus and the teachings about Jesus Christ should not be mixed up with Philo’s compromised philosophies.

  • “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26).
  • Genesis 16 – Hagar meeting the Lord
  • Genesis 18:1-33 – One day, Abraham had some visitors: two angels and God Himself. He invited them to come to his home, and he and Sarah entertained them. Many commentators believe this could also be a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.
  • Genesis 32:22-30 – Jacob wrestled with what appeared to be a man, but was actually God (vv. 28-30).
  • Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
  • John 1:1. The word “was” in the phrase, “In the beginning was the Word,” is the Greek hen, the imperfect tense that stresses continual existence in past time. The phrase could thus be translated, “In the beginning the Word was continually existing.”
  • John 12:41, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him” (cf. Isaiah 6:10).

Main Idea:

First, it displays the fullness of Christ’s divinity; meaning that Jesus is God. In Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” In Hebrews 1:1-3, it states as well that Jesus is the exact imprint, the very representation of God. Meaning, if we want to know God, there is no other way for us to truly know Him apart from Christ. To know Jesus Christ is to know God the Creator.

Second, it denotes the authority of Christ. Jesus being preexistent and being the firstborn signifies his power to rule over all things. Christ here is the firstborn of all creation. He has the authority; even in Hebrews 1:3, he sits at the right hand of God which also pertains to authority as being the right hand. This power includes being in control of what is happening in the universe. The One who sustains the world.

Lastly, the third point, the preexistence of Christ proclaims His preeminence and Lordship. Christ’s kingship as the One who fulfilled the covenantal promise with David amplifies that truly Jesus is Lord.


Learning from these three things about Christ’s preexistence, first, His Divinity; second, His authority; third, His Lordship or preeminence. Christmas is worth celebrating because first, Jesus is God. It is worth celebrating, second, because Jesus rules. Finally, Christmas is worth celebrating because Jesus is Lord.

As said, is Jesus truly number one in our lives? Let us reflect. If Jesus is truly number one in your life, do you:

  • Seek God in the first moments of the day. (Personal and Family Worship)
  • Seek God on the first day of the week. (Sunday Services)
  • Seek God in the first tenth of our income. (Finances and Giving)


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
December 12, 2021

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



Text: Luke 1:26-38

The Significance of the Virgin Birth (Full Sermon Manuscript)


  • I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of
    the virgin Mary. (The Apostles’ Creed)
  • In His incarnation as Jesus Christ, He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin
    Mary. (Baptist Faith and Message 2000)


The problem of exalting Mary than of God’s work, the Immaculate Conception. The thought that Mary was born without sin, which makes her a sinless human being. If that is the case, Jesus is not the only One who was sinless.

Another challenge happened in the late 19th century and early 20th century, describing the evolution/ secularism/ science (liberals). That it is incomprehensible for someone to be born without physical intercourse—rejecting the virgin birth.

Our goal today is to restore and be reminded of the significance of the wonderful story of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Main Idea:

The transforming story of the virgin birth actually starts way behind the New Testament. It started from a prophecy stated by the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin (young woman) will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Christ was born out of a virgin and made entire Israel and even the whole world victorious against the real enemies, evil, sin, and fleshly desires. Yet, remember that the prophecy was about a virgin birth however, in Isaiah 7, the birth of the maiden here that Isaiah prophesied was not an actual virgin birth. Read Isaiah 8:1-4.

So, Isaiah prophesied that Judah will be saved, sustained, and preserved because of the child “Immanuel” but named “Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz”. And yes, God was faithful to His word that all these things were fulfilled.

What makes the story of the nativity, the birth of Christ soooooo wonderful is because it goes beyond the expected fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. The actual Virgin Birth happened at the birth of Christ. Isaiah 7 alludes to the Greater fulfillment of the prophecy which is Jesus’ birth. That makes the Christmas story not just amazing, but powerful, captivating, and worth celebrating.


Implication no. 1, Truly Man. “Forasmuch as he is no half-savior, but redeemer both of body and soul.” – Thomas Monck. Indeed, Christ can only be the worthy sacrificial lamb if He can represent humanity. But he cannot if He is not man. Therefore, the birth of Christ through Mary was a reminder that He is Truly Man.

Implication no. 2, Truly God. Likewise, the mystery of conception that Jesus cannot at the same way represent God if He is not God. Therefore, Jesus was conceived by the Spirit of God—the Holy Spirit—who is the Third Person of the Godhead. This reality shows that Jesus is God


A final point here. This may not be an implication but let us dwell on this promise. In verse 37 of Luke 1, “For no word from God will ever fail.” The book of Isaiah was written in 800 BC, while the gospel of Luke was in the range of 80-90 AD. The ultimate fulfillment of the promise of the prophecy took place after 800 years.

What can we learn from this? Somehow, for Christians, we thought God does not work because we do not feel Him, we do not encounter him. Yet the verse reminds us that God’s Word will never fail. As humans, we fail, but God’s Word lasts forever. Trust God’s Word. Read it.

Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
December 5, 2021

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