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 4:1-16


Church as a Family [oikos]; Paul tells Timothy that the church is the household of God (1 Tim 3:15). We are God’s family— John 1:12-13. He adopts us into his family. Gal 4:4-5. Church as family (Children – John 1:12; Brothers – Heb 2:11; Bride – Eph 5:22-27).

Background of Ephesians 4:

Paul calls us to live a faithful Christian walk by being humble, at peace with one another and maintaining the unity of the church. Take note, it says, maintaining, not creating unity. We are to preserve such unity in the body of Christ (v. 3). This unity has been established in the expression of the Triune God (vv. 4-6). He furthers that Christ gifted the church with different people with distinct leadership roles (vv. 8-11). To equip the saints with unity and spiritual growth (v. 12).

Transition: Starting from verse 13 onwards, it tells us about the church experience. It is not a linear movement from point A to B but has ebbs and flows or ups and downs in the whole experience. It is like a heartbeat that goes up and down. If the line is constant, it means what? Death, right? Meaning that experiencing such ebbs and flows in church experience show that we are alive.

Main Idea:

The Heartbeat Rhythm and Musical Melody (Let us accept the reality that we experience challenges and struggle with them). Even in the early church, in NT, they are also dealing with issues, persecutions, conflicts, and partitions.

It is a never-ending process. Verse 13 states that “until” we reach this knowledge and maturity in Christ and “attaining” (present participle -ing) the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. The church is the body of Christ. While Christ is perfect, we are not perfect here on this side of eternity. Hence, it is an undergoing process. “Sorry for the inconvenience, under construction” WHEN? Until Christ returns.

Conflicts, disagreements, issues, and arguments will never end. But we will never arrive at our destination if we keep focusing on these things. So, while we deal with these matters, we also support and encourage one another to move forward, look to the future, cling to the promises of Christ, and reach our church vision.

Illustration: How many medical checkups do we need per year? (20s—every 2 to 3 years; 30s—every other year; 40s to 50s—every year; 60s—twice a year) Regular checkup and executive checkup. Eye checkups, physicals, dental, and so on. Likewise, as a church, we should have regular checkups. >>> Where are we now? Where are we going? Church Vision – summarized in two words – Global + NextGen. Moreover, let us locate where UCBC is now.

How are we doing? Who is the church? This vital question is one of the things that hinder our church movement. We are not sure who belongs to the family. Updating our church membership. “To be a Christian is synonymous with being the church. The two are inseparably and eternally linked. While it’s possible to be a member of a church and not be a true follower of Christ, it’s impossible to be a genuine believer and not be in the church. – Dustin Benge

Conclusion: Our Church + The Loveliest Place

No other people, not outside our church, not even our denomination, will help us to get better but ourselves. Our church is our family. We belong to one another. The moment you signed the covenant, you became part of this community. By God’s grace and the Spirit’s guidance, we work with one another, pray for one another, and love one another. Cause if we do not do these things, then who else?

Why the loveliest place? Your workplace can fire you; your friends can leave you; your crush can hurt you; nowhere in this world right now can be considered a perfectly secure place. But the church bears the promise of God’s love that he will never divorce the church. “He will never go searching for a more attractive family.”

“The church in the world is the beauty of Christ in the world. Because Christ is her beauty.” The loveliest place in this world is the church because of Christ. The church is the loveliest place. It portrays and reflects the beauty of Christ. Christ died for the church. For our redemption. Christ loves the church. We are loved by Christ.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
October 16, 2022




Text: 1 John 1:3-6

To be a Christian is to have koinonia with God.

I. Koinonia with Christ

Communion with Christ and Union in Christ (Galatians 2:20).

II. Koinonia with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:13)

Disregarding the guidance and leading of the Spirit and even not listening to it causes its grieving. Equally, complaining against the truth and having a corrupt judgment is not godly. Another serious manifestation of this is despising the prayer duty and not participating in sacraments.

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, easily tempted, feeling of brokenness, 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 in pursuing holiness, even experiencing being spiritually bruised and discouraged.

III. Koinonia with the Local Church (Community)

When we partake in the Lord’s Supper, we declare ourselves as One body, One mind, One Assembly—meaning One Church. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

  • with the church (one church_; I love you that’s why I need to tell you the truth, you cannot serve two masters, you cannot be in two places at once, you cannot commit your heart to two persons. Only one local church.
  • You become a critic, not a church participant, consumer, customer service not satisfied with the service (Heb 13:17)
  • fellowship, sharing one another (Heb 10:24-25), and going to church have now become an option by attending online; but we must go beyond just attending.


As a church, our goal is to be a living expression of koinonia. Let us determine our actions whether it creates confusion, division, or encourage, support, and nourish one another.


Live Sunday Worship (May 15, 2022)



Text: 2 John 4-12

Presence: Fullness of Joy (Full Sermon Manuscript)



The letter was written by Apostle John; wherein during that time, was the only living apostle. It was written for a specific church in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). There are two things that the letter emphasizes: first, he was commending them about their walk with God—or Christian living; second, he was warning them about the false teachers. These false teachers were teaching that Christ is just a special prophet and not divine.

Main Idea:

The concept of the Fullness of Joy was also stated in 2 John 12 “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” Ever since the Early Church, there were already practicing a hybrid style of ministering to churches. However, it does not suffice the biblical idea of complete joy or the fullness of joy. Presence is vital in church life; a Hybrid setting is ought to be supplemental not an alternative nor a substitute for corporate worship.

Ministry of Presence

Jesus Christ embodies this promise of eternal presence. His name, “Immanuel” means God With Us. And through the Holy Spirit, Christ’s presence is being continued as God indwells in our hearts. Just the thought of knowing that someone is there for you, present, willing to listen, and sojourn on the road of life brings complete joy to our hearts. This is the same thought of the ministry of presence. Just being “present” is already a ministry.

Communal Presence

Dietrich Bonhoeffer reflected on his time during the holocaust; he wrote, “He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” Both Apostle John and Bonhoeffer were trying to say that ‘You don’t get the church you want, but you get the church you need.’


Albert Mohler notes, “No believer can do this alone. Faithfulness is always wrought in the community of the church, a family committed to the gospel, to one another, and to walking in the truth together. The community of Christ is a rich means of persevering grace.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
March 27, 2022


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



Text: Acts 1:6-14

The Spirit-filled Congregation (Full Sermon Manuscript)



The book of Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Luke was the author of both the Acts and Luke. He is a physician and closely works with Apostle Paul during his missionary journeys, struggles, and gospel proclamation (see 2 Timothy 4:11).

In Acts 1, Jesus Christ told the disciples that they needed to wait for the Holy Spirit (verse 4). This promised gift was told by Christ during his farewell discourse to his disciples. (John 14:16-17, 25-26); John 7:39; John 16:7, 12-15.

Main Idea:

The ministry of Christ continues through the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of God applies these works of Christ through the church. Hence, the church should follow the Holy Spirit. It is not the Spirit that we ask to follow us, but rather, it is the Spirit that must lead the church.

I. A Spirit-filled Church is a Prayerful Church
II. A Spirit-filled Church is empowered to witness
III. A Spirit-filled Church is led by the Holy Spirit

When we let the Holy Spirit lead our church by being filled by the Spirit, only then that we can truly find joy and excitement in worshipping God. “As church members obey the command to yield to the Spirit, their endeavors to relate deeply to one another, praise God corporately, thank him continually, and submit to one another will flourish in genuine community living.” – Greg Allison and Andreas Kostenberger

Conclusion: UCBC Global Vision

The church must worship somewhere: “The church is not geographically bound to one place … but it is not geographically agnostic, in that it lives, moves, and has its being in some spatiotemporal (space and time) reality. It can be anywhere, but always is somewhere also.” – Reid Monaghan cited by Greg Allison and Andreas Kostenberger

For UCBC to be a Spirit-filled congregation, first and foremost, it must devote to prayer, then to commit to the empowerment to be witnesses to the world, and lastly, to submit to the Spirit’s leading.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
March 6, 2022


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