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The Holy Catholic Church and The Obligations of Church Member

Historical Background

Magandang umaga po sa ating lahat. Good morning. Salamat sa Panginoon for bringing us here. Like what Elder Dennis just prayed for us moments ago, despite the calamity that we just faced, we are here gathered in this place to devote ourselves to the study of the Word and to the study of the faithful summary of the Scripture specifically the Belgic Confession.

I am tasked to discuss Belgic Confession Articles 27-28. Kaya, consider yourselves forewarned because it will take much longer than you may expect. But thanks be to God our congregation, Field of Grace Reformed Church, is kind of used to my long preaching and teaching so I will not be praying for them but for you. That you may be sustained and you may grow in patience in listening to this boring sermon perhaps.

So, our discussion for this morning concerning Belgic Confession Articles 27 to 28 is divided into three parts. So first we have the introduction which is very brief. I hope that I will fulfill my promise on that. And the second part is the lecture proper on the Belgic Confession Article 27. And, third and last, the Belgic Confession on Article 28. So, I know that you are so excited not for me but for the books to be raffled later. So, let me begin this without any delay.

So first, let me just say this or say this right off the bat. First, understand why we are here or why we are studying Belgic Confession Articles 27 to 28. And later on, Articles 29, 30, and 31. We must understand, we must keep in our minds and we must resolve to affirm this in our hearts and our minds that the nature of the Holy Catholic Church of Christ dictates the obligations to him and to his church of all those whom Christ has included in his Covenant Community. Again, the nature of the Holy Catholic Church of Christ dictates the obligations to him and to his church of all those whom Christ has included in his Covenant Community.

So, that’s basically the gist of what we will be discussing for the next hour or so. We don’t invent according to our whims or according to our preferences our obligations of Christ and to his church. Rather, it must be grounded on the Scripture which reveals to us the very nature of the Church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But for us to better understand or appreciate this particular thesis of Belgic Confession Article 27 to 28, let us first delve into the, at least briefly, into the historical context in which the articles were written in the 16th century. So we would appreciate why it boldly and painstakingly and biblically, of course, asserts and defends the doctrine of the church and the obligations of all believers in Christ to belong to his church.

So, first, so what Pastor Reuel mentioned earlier perhaps if most of us or if not all are already familiar with the Belgic Confession because it’s one of the three forms of unity which is the standard summary confession of our faith as Reformed Christians. But for the benefit of everybody, to refresh each one of us, Guido de Brès completed the Belgic confession in 1561. Now, to all of you who are aspiring to become elders or deacons and more especially as Ministers of the Word and Sacraments, you must not only be familiar with this but you must memorize this. Belgic Confession was completed in 1561, written by Guido de Brès. And the very reason that Guido de Brès wrote these articles is to respond to the Roman church because in the 16th century we know that the Council of Trent was concluded and the Council of Trent was convened intentionally to address and to reject Protestant Reformation. Hence, we can see or we can read in the canons and the Decrees of the Council of Trent: Let him be anathema. It’s a direct assault to what we have been fighting for since the Protestant Reformation but we must also understand that Guido de Brès is not only responding to the Romanist Papist or Roman church. But in writing the Belgic Confession, he’s also addressing the Anabaptist. The radicals. Those who claim to be Reformed but they are proven to be illegitimate daughter of Reformation not only because of their Doctrine but more especially how their doctrines are reflected in their practice.

So, later on I will stress that. But pardon me because I’m the one who opens this conference. The burden of discussing the historical context falls on my shoulder so please be more patient with me. So, like what I said, Guido de Brès was addressing both the Roman catholic church or the Romanist papist church and the Anabaptist. Why? For Rome, for the Roman See, for the church in Rome, all Protestants are essentially just like the Anabaptist. And what do we mean by that? All Protestants, all Reformed, are just basically the same with the Anabaptist. How? In attacking the Romanist doctrines. What are those? The mass, the purgatory, the merit of the saints, the Roman priesthood, and whatnot. And, for Rome, the Protestant Reformation is just like the Anabaptist in rejecting the Divine Authority that the Roman catholic church claims for herself.

In our church, I’ve taught and discussed this already. Yung tinatawag na ‘protestas clavium’. Pag sinabing ‘potestas clavium”, ito ang tinatawag na ‘power of the keys’ na kine-claim ng Roman catholic church na that they received and that they hold through their unbroken apostolic succession. And more especially, for Rome, the Protestant Reformation, it’s basically just like the Anabaptist in the Anabaptist’s thirst for anarchy and for rebellion against all divinely instituted authority in the society, the church, and the family.

That’s why it’s important for us to to look back at what really happened specifically in 1534-1535. The siege of the city of Munster. In 1534-1535, John of Leiden, o yung tinatawag na Prophet John, kaya magingat tayo sa nagtatawag na sila’y prophet. Si John of Leiden who called himself as prophet or who was hailed by his cohorts as prophet, he led the Anabaptist radicals in taking over Munster, and what did they do? They confiscated church property, they desecrated the altars of the churches, they burned all books, they began practicing polygamy and, in other words, borrowing the thunder of my professor, Dr Bryan Estelle, they wanted to jump the eschatological gun. They want to oppose every form of authority in the society the church and the family and they want to bring Heaven down to earth. Hence, they want to establish their own kingdom in Munster led by John of Leiden.

So, it should not be a surprise to all of us to find out that John the prophet or John of Leiden, he led the execution of all those within the city who dared to challenge him. So, going back to Rome, according to Rome, the Anabaptist kingdom of Munster is the fate of any City whose leader becomes Protestant and goes against the authority of the Roman catholic church. The Roman church hates Anabaptists just as she hates the Protestant Reformation. Why? They accuse or she accuses the Protestant Reformation or the Reformed Church of being one with the Anabaptists in her thirst for anarchy, assaulting all areas of life including the church, the state, and the family. But, this is what we must be reminded of more importantly. Both the Reformed Church and the Lutheran Church condemned vehemently the Anabaptists. And that brings us back to the purpose of Guido de Brès writing the confession.

Guido de Brès was not only addressing the Roman Church, addressing the errors of the Roman Church, but also attacking the errors, the heresy, and the anarchy of the Anabaptist. Kaya nga, hopefully, before this lecture ends, we will appreciate that the crime of the Anabaptist is not just heresy but all the more anarchy. An assault despising every form of authority, not just in the society, not just in the family, but also in the church.

So going back to Guido de Brès, De Brès wrote this confession in order to refute or correct or attack the error of the Roman Church in accusing that the Reformation or the Protestant Reformed Church is basically the same with the Anabaptist. And let me just mention this briefly, for the Anabaptist, they claim that the church is to be led by charismatic Prophets. Kaya nga, yung mga nakikita niyong mga charismatic, yung mga pinangungunahan ng mga propeta at kung sino pa man, hindi na po bago ‘yan. Everything is just a rehash. Nothing is new under the sun. It’s just going back to what really happened earlier

So, for the Anabaptists, they have that knack or hunger or thirst for the being charismatic, being led by the Holy Spirit. They claim that charismatic prophets are to be led by the Holy Spirit so that they may faithfully lead all the believers away from involvement in the world. And when they say to lead them away from all involvements in the world it includes the institutional church. Kaya nga po ang Anabaptist, they went against the baptism of the children of believers, against the legitimacy of the state and against the structures or the formal structures of church government.

Now, before I proceed to our lecture proper on Belgic Confession Article 27, I must remind you that we see this everywhere we go not just in the States but also here in the Philippines. Not only here in Metro Manila, but also in other parts of the Philippines. Recently, we went to Bohol for a conference. Makikita mo yung influence ng Anabaptism or Anabaptist sa bawat dako ng ating bansa. Yung walang membership sa church, no? Yung asda asda na tinatawag, diba? Yung ine-equate yung spirituality with spontaneity. And that false assumption that being in order means dry spirituality. Those are just few of the spirituality those are just few of the many influences of the Anabaptist movement.

Kaya nga po, itong Belgic Confession, importante. Hindi lamang for the office bearers but also for every member of the church to understand, to study, to appreciate the historical context so that we would understand how Guido de Brès is refuting the errors of the Roman Church as well as denying and despising the heresies of the Anabaptist movement.

One Holy Catholic Church

So, I hope we were able to have a brief background of the historical context of the Belgic Confession and allow me to proceed sa atin pong second part which is our lecture proper on Belgic confession 27 which I entitled ‘Unam, Sanctam, Catholicam, et Apostolicam’. That is the Belgic Confession on the nature of the church of Christ. When we say unam means one; sanctam holy; catholicam, catholic or universal; apostolicam means Apostolic. So, basically these are words taken from the Latin version of the Nicene Creed and also rooted from the Apostles’ Creed. So, here in Belgic Confession 27, we will see how Guido de Brès discusses or affirms or asserts the true Doctrine concerning the nature of the Church of Christ. Hence, we have to read Article 27:

We believe and confess one single catholic or universal church — a holy congregation and gathering of true Christian believers, awaiting their entire salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by his blood, and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit. This church has existed from the beginning of the world and will last until the end, as appears from the fact that Christ is eternal King who cannot be without subjects. And this holy church is preserved by God against the rage of the whole world, even though for a time it may appear very small in human eyes— as though it were snuffed out. For example, during the very dangerous time of Ahab the Lord preserved for himself seven thousand men who did not bend their knees to Baal. And so this holy church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or certain persons. But it is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world, though still joined and united in heart and will, in one and the same Spirit, by the power of faith (Belgic Confession Article 27).

So, first, sa Article 27 ng Belgic Confession ang una nating titingnan ay yung identity of the church. The identity of the church. Second, its preservation, and third and last, its universality. In understanding the true nature of the Church of Christ, it is necessary for us to understand the identity of the church, its preservation and its universality. This is exactly what Guido De Brès wrote about in Article 27.

So, let’s begin looking at the first part: the identity of the church. We believe and confess one single Catholic or Universal Church. A holy congregation and gathering of true Christian believers awaiting their entire salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by his blood, and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit. This church has existed from the beginning of the world. So, for us to better appreciate the first sentence, allow me to discuss first that which follows it. And yung part po na yun, ay yung this church has existed from the beginning of the world.

So, and under our first part of the identity of the church what we can see here is its Old Testament origin and New Testament outpouring concerning the identity of the church. We must understand its Old Testament origin and the New Testament outpouring. Kasi yun ang sinasabi sa Belgic Confession taken from the Scriptures itself. This church has existed from the beginning of the world. Genesis 22 verse 18, mga kapatid, ito po yung sinasabi sa Salita ng Panginoon: and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because they have obeyed my voice.

So, concerning the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is not the case that the church began in 2020 when I began pastoring Field of Grace Reformed Church. Or when 10 or 11 years ago, when this church was founded. The church has existed from the very beginning of the world. Kaya nga sa Genesis 22:18, makikita nating sinasabi ng ating Panginoon patungkol kay Abraham, na through faith, through true faith in Yahweh, ito po yung pangako: in your Offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because you have obeyed my voice. So, in sum, all who believe in Christ Jesus are children of Abraham. All who believe in Jesus Christ are children of Abraham, meaning heirs to the promise given to Abraham himself. Hindi ba’t yun mismo ang sinasabi ng apostol Pablo sa Romans Chapter 4 verses 11 to 12? Hindi lamang for the circumcised, meaning the Jews or the Israelites in the flesh, but also Israelites in heart. Meaning according to promise.

Ano yung sinasabi? He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still circumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but to also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our Father Abraham had before he was circumcised. Ito po yung key aspect ng Abrahamic covenant. Not only that Abraham will have children according to the flesh, the children according to promise. And that promise is apprehended or received by faith. Kaya nga lahat ng sumasampalataya sa ating Panginoong Hesukristo ay tagatanggap ng pangako na tinatanggap ni Abraham.

Hence, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ finds its roots from the very beginning of the world. Even before the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Even before Pentecost. The church has already existed although we may utilize that term concealed. Importante na maintindihan natin pagdating sa Scripture, yan po ang tinatawag na Progressive or organic na development or progress ng Revelation. It is not the case na sa Genesis 1 pa lang, nilagay na ng Panginoon ang lahat ng mangyayari. But there’s this organic development or progress of the revelation of our God. And that includes his Revelation concerning the church. Kaya nga, kung babalikan natin yung pangako ng Diyos. The promise of God is this: I will be your God and you will be my people. Hindi yung, I will be your God and I will have some individuals who will have personal relationship with me by going forward or in front towards the altar or by sitting on the anxious bench. Ba’t nga tinuturo ni Charles Finney. Hindi! That is the promise. I will be your God and you will be my people. Ang Diyos ay nangliligtas ng mga tao. People. Bayan. Hindi lamang ng ilang mga indibiduwal. And because of this, we can boldly and clearly affirm what the Scripture teaches concerning the church. God has won people and that church predates Pentecost.

The church has always existed from the beginning. Gaya ng binanggit ko nga kanina, the Old Testament revelation progressively, organically nag-a-unfold kaya yung first church is the family. Adam and Eve. Then the clan, the Patriarchs, and of course the nation of Israel. Bago pa man ma i-reveal yung Church, in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as his mystical body. And more especially, during Pentecost when God’s people are now called out from among all the gentle Nations and not only from Israel. So, we must understand concerning the identity of the church, its origins is from the Old Testament, albeit its outpouring is what we can see in the New Testament. Kaya malinaw. Walang alinlangan. Matapang na kine-claim ni Guido De Brès from the Word, that this church, this true church has existed from the beginning of the world.

So, understanding this, we will better appreciate what was said or written earlier. Ano po yun? We believe and confess one single Catholic or Universal Church, a holy congregation and gathering of true Christian believers awaiting their entire salvation in Jesus Christ being washed by his blood and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Through what has been revealed by deposits in the Old Testament, we have been brought to its outpouring in the New Testament, more especially during the Pentecost and all the things that we can see in the book of Acts.

For the Pentecost marks the dawn of the age of the Spirit according to the promise of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And because of that, lahat po ng mga mananampalataya, all believers in Jesus Christ, are invoked by the Holy Spirit and not just certain individuals for a time in the Old Testament na gaya ng nakikita natin. For he was filled by the Spirit and the Spirit was upon him. No, those previews, those snapshots that we can see in the Old Testament has been fully revealed in the New Testament as we can see in the day of Pentecost.

Kaya nga, mga kapatid, lahat ng mananampalataya, all believers in Jesus Christ ay tinatawag na living stones in God’s temple. All the things that we see in the Old Testament point forward to that great outpouring the New Testament where the church of Christ, the Church of God, is no longer confined to Israel but to all nations just as what he has promised from the days of old.

Lahat ng mananampalataya indwelt and filled with the glory of the Blessed Holy Spirit in whom we are all baptized. This should not be a surprise to us and this should not be a stumbling block to many who opposes, the many who oppose rather, than the Old Testament origin of the church. Bakit? Sa Isaiah 49 verse 6, I will make you Israel or I will make you light for the nations… that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. The plan has always been from one person, one family, one plan, one nation towards all the nations, to the ends of the Earth. And this is exactly what Apostle Paul is affirming in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 11 to 22. I don’t have enough time to read yung buong Ephesians chapter 2 verses 11 to 22. But you may write that down. Kung ano man yung mga pangako ng Diyos concerning the Church because of the Messiah, because of the Christ in the Old Testament is exactly what Apostle Paul is affirming in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 11 to 22. And we see its grandest expression in the Advent or in the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bakit? Sa pagparito ng ating Panginoong Hesukristo in the flesh, the coming of the Messiah In the flesh, the second person of the Trinity, the son of God, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ marks the inclusion of the Gentiles into the one people of God – Israel in the Old Testament, the church which is composed not only of Israel but of all Nations in the new.

Kaya nga ganun na lamang yung language ni apostol Pablo. Nasa Ephesians. Yung mga Hentil. Mga nations who had no hope. Strangers to the Commerce of Promise. Aliens concerning the covenant. Anong pagpapala ang tinanggap natin? We have been made fellow citizens of true Israel. And now we are joined together with countless others to become a holy temple in which the spirit of God dwells. In other words, the Church. Kaya, ganun ang ina-assert ng Belgic Confession. We believe and confess one single Catholic or Universal Church, a holy congregation. Ito yung identity ng church. The church is holy. Ang iglesia ng Diyos, ang iglesia ni Kristo Hesus ay banal, meaning set apart, sanctified for him.

Bakit? Dahil lahat ng kabilang sa iglesia ng ating Panginoong Hesukristo ay tunay na pinatawad sa kanilang mga kasalanan. At yung katuwiran or the perfect righteousness and holiness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was imputed to us by the grace of God. And, not only that we have we been justified from our sins, but because we are justified, we are assured that we are being sanctified not the other way around as the heresy of the Roman catholic false church.

For the Roman catholic false church, in order for you to be justified, you must be sanctified continually first. Sanctified in order to be justified. But that’s not what the Scripture says. And for that reason, the Protestant Reformation stood firmly against the false teaching of the Roman catholic church. We were justified in order to be sanctified because sanctification serves as the bridge the fills the gap between our justification and our glorification.

Kaya, yun ang bansag, yun ang pagkakakilanlan or that’s the identity of the Church. The Church of Christ is holy. Yes, you heard me right. The Church is holy no matter how ugly we are. I’ve said this over and over again in our church. The more you see the ugliness of yourself, the ugliness of the one next to you, in front of you, or behind you, you all the more see the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit of God in sanctifying the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps one of the most grave or grievous sins that this present day church has committed is this. We have forgotten that the church is holy. We have forgotten that the church is holy. Or that we were so foolish the trade of the holiness of the Church of Christ for the comforts of this world.

Ano bang sinasabi ng Salita ng Panginoon patungkol sa kanyang Iglesia? Ephesians chapter 5 verses 25 to 27. Ephesians 5:25 to 27. Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing that she might be holy and without blemish. Kaya walang alinlangan, ng sa halip buong tapang that Guido de Brès affirms that the Church of Christ is holy. Not the empire. Not the Christendom which is the mixture of the church and the state but the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Holy because the Spirit of God, the spirit of Christ sanctifies the Church of Christ because that is the promise of Christ himself. And how are we holy? How are we holy? By penance? By our own works? But the many coins that we have dropped? Basically indulgences, indulgences for ourselves? We are holy because there’s this one old guy seated at the See of Rome saying that we are holy already? No! The reason that the Church is holy, that the Church of Christ is Holy, is because of the merits of Jesus Christ himself. Kaya tayo banal. Kaya banal ang Iglesia dahil yung kabanalan ng katuwiran ni Kristo Hesus ang siyang binigay sa atin dahil lamang sa biyaya ng Diyos. Gaya ng sinabi ko kanina, all of us, proven justified from our sins are being sanctified, being conformed to the image of Christ, being transformed from one degree of Glory to another. We are being prepared for that Glory that God promised to us.

Just recently last Sunday, I reiterated this in in our church. God will never share his glory. But he has revealed that he will be glorified in glorifying us with the glory that is intended for us. And that is what to be fully conformed to the image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Kaya nga huwag natin dapat ipagkibit-balikat, huwag nating ikatakot, huwag nating ikahiya. We are to confess, affirm, and defend that the Church of Christ, the True Church of Christ, is holy. But more often, we find ourselves afraid, scared, intimidated, kowtowing to the demands of this world. Eh bakit? Do we derive our holiness and righteousness, our salvation from the world? Of course not! Dapat alalahanin natin, mga kapatid, ito ang Iglesia ng Panginoon, ito ang identity natin. Holy Church of Christ. Balikan natin yung sinasabi dito ng Belgic Confession. No. we must, I must emphasize or clarify this. A holy congregation and gathering of true Christian believers – na bago ma-misunderstood ng mga ilan sa atin – na pag sinabi ng Belgic Confession from the scripture yung term na true Christian believers, ini-imply nito na may mga false Christian believers.

So, as far as the visible church is concerned, as far as the Church Militant is concerned, as far as the Church that we can see is concerned, no? Bago bumalik ang ating Panginoong Hesukristo, the nature of the Church in one sense will always be mixed. Ito ay binubuo ng mga tunay na mananampalataya at mga huwad o balat-kayo na mananampalataya. The visible Church ay, ito yung grupo na nagpapahayag na sila ay mananampalataya ni Kristo Hesus. Nabautismuhan at patungo sa membership sa Church. At merong kagustuhan na sambahin ang Panginoon ayon sa Kaniyang Salita.

Pero, ang katotohanan, the visible Church, gaya ng sinabi ko kanina, habang nandito pa tayo sa lupang ito, hinihintay natin na bumalik ang ating Panginoong Hesu Kristo, the visible church, no matter how hard your officebearers or no matter how diligent your officebearers are fulfilling their task. Or no matter how ardent or zealous you are in proclaiming the Gospel, the Church, the visible Church, to be more specific, prior to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, will always be mixed in nature. It will have sheep and goats, wheat and tares, or in other words, true Christian believers and false Christian believers.

The visible Church is distinguished from the invisible Church. Pag sinabi nating invisible church ay yung lahat na tunay na mga mananampalataya at tanging ang Diyos lamang ang nakakakita ultimately kung sino ang mga ito. Hence, the invisible church is composed of all the elect of God in Christ. Kaya nga, mga kapatid, ganito ang paalala sa atin sa second Peter chapter 1 verse 10. Second Peter chapter 1 verse 10. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election. Kasi nga, gaya ng sinabi ko kanina, there are people who claim to be Christians and who are not, and even though they are part of the visible Church. They are members of the visible church only outwardly or externally. And in the appointed time of Christ, they shall all be laid bare. Nevertheless, nevertheless, the truth remains. The Church of Christ is the Holy Catholic Church. And the Church is the assembly of believers in Jesus Christ through the Gospel of God’s grace.

Kaya no wonder, Guido De Brès affirms it in this way: yung Iglesia ng ating Panginoong Hesukristo ay binubuo ng lahat ng tunay na mananampalataya. Na ang kanilang buong kaligtasan ay na kay Kristo Hesus lamang. Dahil sa paglilinis ni Kristo Hesus sa kanila sa pamamagitan ng Kaniyang banal na dugo at pagpapabanal at pagpapatibay o pagpapatunay sa pamamagitan ng banal na Espiritu. Ito yung identity ng Church. One single catholic or universal Church. A holy congregation. Kaya nga sa first Peter 2 verses 9 to 10, Ano ang sinasabi ng Salita ng Panginoon through Peter? But you are a chosen race, a company of fundraisers. No. Of course not. A group of Millennials who are fond of posting themselves on social media? No. What does First Peter 2:9 then say? But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people but now you are God’s people. Not only the Jews but including the Gentiles as well as one people of God. Once he had not received mercy but now you have received mercy. Paano ito tinanggap ng mga mananampalataya? Sa pamamagitan ng biyaya ng Diyos, tayo ay sumampalataya kay Kristo Hesus. The common faith through which we apprehend Christ and all the benefits of his finished work on the cross. Our common Faith, the faith of all True Believers in Christ. Our faith which is a gift from God himself.

May mga ilang grupo nagsasabing na yung pananampalataya daw ay hindi kaloob ng Diyos.  I kid you not. There are groups who claim to be Christians but they assert and they adamantly fight for their proposition that faith is not a gift from God. But the faith is not a gift from God – how in the world or in the next world or the world to come that you will have faith? Not only obtaining the faith but also maintaining the faith. But thanks be to God according to his word, yung pananampalataya natin sa Diyos na sa pamamagitan nito, tayo ay nanalig kay Kristo Hesus at tinanggap natin ang lahat ng benepisyo ng kanyang redemptive work. Yun ang nagba-bind sa ating lahat. Our common faith. The foundation of the Church, binding us together as a body of believers.

Kaya nga, ang Church, mga kapatid, para to identified one single Catholic or Universal Church, a holy congregation. Yung Church ay hindi po to be identified or characterized by a group of people who are just concerned about their felt needs or their self-serving desires. No. Ni sa pamamagitan ng wisdom ng mundong ito that the church is to be identified or to be characterized, it must be according to the Word, it must be according to the common faith that we have received from God by his grace through Jesus Christ Our Savior and Lord. It is not by the filthiness of this world that the church is to be characterized. The very reason that God calls his church, Christ calls his church as holy church is because we are mere recipients of the true righteousness and holiness of Christ imputed to us by the grace of God to all of us who have believed in Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

Kaya hindi po pu-pwedeng merong isang pamamaraan para sa grupo na ito for them to be part of the church and then there’s another way for other group to be part of the church. There’s only one way. There’s only one people of God. There’s only one gospel. There’s only one way to be included in the covenant community of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One Covenant of Grace.

Kaya nga, kung kayo ay – I’m speaking to the pastors especially to those who are older than me – that far be it for me to to pretend here that I know every everything or that I have experienced all things. No. I’m younger than you. Kung baga sa tagalog, marami pa akong kakaining bigas. No. But let me say this from the bottom of my heart. No, not only to the pastors and minister of the Word and sacraments but to our elders and deacons. Whenever you feel disappointed, discourage or you want to give up, or you just want to raise a white flag, remember this.

Remember this from the Word. It is not by our own sheer will of determination that the Church is holy. No. It is through Christ’s finished work on the cross. It is through the declaration of God’s blessings for us secured by Christ through what he has done and sealed for us by the Spirit.

Kaya nga, pag yung ating mga respective local churches ay punong–puno ng mga matitigas na ulo at mga pasaway na mga miyembro, huwag nating kalimutan, ano ang pagkakakilanlan sa Church? Huwag tayong magtawanan, huwag tayong magturuan.  Been there, done that. Hopefully, nasa past tense, no? Pag yung church natin punong-puno ng mga no professing or communicant members of the church pero matigas ang ulo, pasaway, lagi nating kailangang dalhin sa opisina ni Pastor. Huwag tayong manghinawa, mga kapatid. Huwag tayong manghinawa. First, ganun din naman tayo dati, di ba? Second, or primarily if I may say or if I should say. Hindi yun dun sa drama natin.  Hindi yun dun sa ginagawa natin. Primarily, ito ay naka-base sa kung ano ang sinabi ng Panginoon patungkol sa kaniyang Iglesia. One single catholic or universal Holy Church of Christ. Ito yung identity ng Church, mga kapatid.  Existed from the very beginning. It was fully revealed its outpouring in the New Testament. And makikita natin, iisa lang ang Iglesia ng Dios. Banal. Hindi lamang pinabanal kundi banal kung tratuhin mismo ni Kristo Hesus na siyang namatay para sa atin. 

Kaya dito sa Belgic Confession Article 27, after Guido De Brès discusses or writes on the identity of the church. He moves to the second part. The preservation of the Church. Understanding the identity of the Church will lead you to the understanding of how it is being preserved. The preservation of the Church and we are on that part of the Belgic Confession Article 27 where it says: and will last until the end. As appears from the fact that Christ is eternal King who cannot be without subjects. And this holy church is preserved by God against the rage of the whole world even though for a time it may appear very small in the eyes of man as though it was snuffed out. For example, during the very dangerous time of Ahab, the Lord preserved for himself seven thousand men who did not bend their knees to Baal.

Now let me begin my discussion of this part two of Belgic Confession Article 27 in this way. I don’t know how many times I have thought or pondered in my mind in this way. When I see people lining up in cinemas, no? I have wished for a number of times. No? Na kailan kaya magiging ganito sa isang Reformed Church? Kailan kaya magiging ganito sa church? Yung naguunahan makapasok. Hindi yung naghihintayan. Yung uupo lahat sa likod. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not spiritualizing yung desire na umupo sa likod. Siyempre mas malapit sa kape, mas malapit sa bookstore. Pero, di ba? I know you, you are with me when I say this. Di lang bilang Pastor kundi isang mananampalataya.  Now, we are asking: Kailan kaya? Kailan kaya? Kailan kaya maguunahan, magpipilahan ang mga taong ito? Magmamadali pa papunta sa church?  I must admit that part of that wishful thinking is this. In my mind, in my sinful mind, there are moments that I wish for the church to be more recognized, to be more appealing, to be more powerful, if I may say. Why? Because in our sinful nature. We understand our propensity to always have the upper hand. Gusto natin yung lamang tayo, e. Gusto natin yung di tayo naaagrabyado.

But what Guido De Brès is actually telling us here is this: the nature of the Church will help us understand na yun talaga ang tunay na kalagayan ng Iglesia.  We are pilgrims. We are sojourners. We are exiles. We are prisoners. You’re a scum of the Earth.  However, no matter how unfavorable the situation may be in our eyes, we must take comfort from the fact that the Church of Christ is being preserved by Christ himself. The Lord of the Church will preserve the Church even in the great times of peril. Na ito, fresh na fresh pa sa atin. In fact, our respective Church, the Field of Grace Reformed Church at the onset of the pandemic, ang ating takot, hindi lang kami kundi kayo, yung takot natin mawala yung mga tao.

But we can attest to the fact that pandemic has actually been the instrument of God to cause the Church to grow. When I became the Pastor of Field of Grace Reformed Church in 2020, I was left with more than 20 people. But throughout the pandemic, the Lord in his wisdom and providence, he has caused our church, your churches, your respective churches to grow in such a way that we have never thought of before. Pero hindi yun dahil sa matapang kami, no? Or dahil matatalino kami. Or dahil may pera kami. Hindi.

Sa isang banda, nakuwento namin, kweno ko sa inyo sandali, yung Field of Grace Reformed Church, we were situated sa talagang medyo tago, no? Kaya, kahit na lockdown sa lahat, doon sa amin, napunta si Pastor Lance doon, walang lockdown lockdown doon. Smackdown ang ginagawa ng mga bata doon. Laro sila ng laro. Tapos sabi ko. Itong mga batang to, laro ng laro May mga magulang, walang pakialam. E di walang magsusumbong sa atin dito, no? May isang linggo lang kaming sampu lang. Isa o dalawa. Next Sunday, tuloy na natin, balik tayong lahat. Pero hindi yun dahil sa madiskarte, o mas determinado, hindi. Ang pundasyon nun, ay yung katotohanan na kahit anong pandemic pa yan, gyera, persecution, the Lord will preserve her Church. Kahit mawala pa yung ilang pamilya na pinakamalaki ang binibigay na offering, tuloy ang church. 

And I’m saying this not to discourage our officebearers. No. Pero hindi. Kahit mabawasan natin ang officebearers o magpahinga pansamantala, tuloy ang church.  Malipat man tayo ng location, tuloy ang church. Manakawan man ang church, tuloy ang church. Hindi man magkaintindihan yung mga tao sa church, members, office bearers, which is just natural, we are all sinful, by the way. But the church will continue. Why? Because the Lord of the Church preserves the church. 

Contra the worldly metrics, no, the numerical size.  Don’t get me wrong. Kunyari, dalawa na lang kayo, no, hindi yung tuloy ang church. Hindi. Baka may mali kayong ginagawa, no. Magpasailalim ka sa tamang church, no. Dalawa, tatlo. Hindi sabi. Dalawa, tatlo nagkatipon, tuloy ang la… tuloy ang kaso. Hindi. Magtanong ka na, no. Dalawa, tatlo na lang kayong naiiwan, no. However, no, at the end of the day, it’s not really the numerical size. Hindi yung, okay ano kami, 300 na kami so talagang tapat ang Panginoon. No.  Hinid yung numerical size. Hindi yung grandeur ng building. Hindi yung popularity and success. Hindi yung influence natin in the political realm. Hindi. 

The Church is being preserved because the Lord who owns the Church is faithful. Yun ang pangako ng Panginoon. And kailan ba natin huling nakita? When did we really behold the faithfulness of Christ to his Church. Isn’t it in great times of peril or distress like this pandemic that we had? Magpapatuloy ang Church sa katapatan. Not flawless na katapatan, mga kapatid.  But the Church will remain in her faithfulness to Christ not because of our innate faithfulness but because of the kingly rule of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Anong sabi ni Guido de Brès? Christ is an eternal king and only a delusional king or a puppet king who rules without any subjects. But Christ is an eternal king. So, if this eternal king from eternity to to eternity at future, if we may say. Christ will always have his subjects and that means Christ will always have his Church. Yung priestly intercession ng ating Panginoon for us. Yun yung assurance natin. John chapter 17. 

That’s the assurance that the Church will be preserved in high priestly intercession ng ating Panginoon. The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the Church preserves the Church. Kaya nga itong Article 27, mga kapatid, mas lalo natin itong ma-appreciate o mauunawaan sa kung paano ito inorder ni Guide De Brès. Sa Article 26. Article 26 talks about… Article 26 talks about the High Priestly role of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The kingly rule of our great High Priest over the Church. Yun ang sinasabi ng ating confession.

Kaya nga, we can boldly affirm God has his one people and that the Lord will never fail in preserving his people. Our Lord Jesus who is both King and head of his Church will ensure that such a Church will remain on earth no matter how small or no matter how intense the persecution may be. Kaya it brings us back sa sinasabi sa Salita ng Panginoon. Matthew 16 verse 18. Anong sabi ng ating Panginoon? I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Now, maraming uma-attend sa ating church na mukhang kakalabas lang ng Hades, no. O kaya naman nag Airbnb sa Hades.  Ganito yung assurance ng Panginoon. Even the gates of hell, the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the Church.  Now you know this might be a corny joke pero subukan niyo. Paano maglalagay ng gate yung Hades dito e bukang-buka nga tayo dito, di ba? Everyone may come in.

But kidding aside, that’s the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. At ano pa? Matthew 28:18 to 20. Anong sabi ng ating Panginoon? All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. E ano ang sinabi niya sa dulo?  Behold, I am with you always to the end of the age. Let me close this second Point under our Belgic Article 27. The Church will be preserved. The Church will be preserved. Why? Pakinggan niyo mabuti, mga kapatid. Just as Christ ascended back to heaven with his whole body, with his whole physical body, hindi ba? Jesus Christ ascended back to heaven with his whole physical body. So, just as Christ ascended back to heaven with his whole physical body, he will not allow, he will not allow any member of this mystical body, meaning the Church, to be severed from him who is the head. Again. The Lord Jesus Christ will not allow any member of his mystical body, meaning the Church, to be severed from him who is indeed the head. Ito yung assurance natin, mga kapatid.  Christ preserves the Church.

Kaya nga, let this be a fair warning to all of us. If we are out here, no.  And your goal or your aim or your ulterior motive is to destroy the Church, now for some moment you may appear to be successful. But let this be clear to you. You will never prevail against the Lord Jesus Christ. You will never prevail. You will never prevail against the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a fearful thing to pit yourself against Jesus Christ who is the head of the Church. Let this be a fair warning to all of us. In moments that we are tempted to destroy the Church, let us be reminded that we will never prevail against the Church.

So, make sure that in every moment, we are on the right side. There’s no other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So, now we have discussed the identity of the Church and the preservation of the Church under the nature of the Church. Now, important also that we understand that concerning the nature of the Church is its universality. The universality of the Church and no wonder ito yung sinasabi ni Guido De Brès. From the Scriptures, and so this Holy Church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or certain persons. But it is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world though still joined and united in heart and will and one in the same Spirit by the power of faith. 

I intend to say this dito sa katapusan ng Belgic confession Article 27 but I just can’t help it, no. But take a quick look. Sa lahat ng mga taong narito, we, from Field of Grace Reformed Church. Taas ang kamay ng mga taga Field of Grace Reformed Church.  Mga taga Zion Cornerstone Reformed Church Imus. Light of Christian Church from Amparo. Caloocan City. From Malolos Christ Reformed Church. From Pilgrim Community Church, our Presbyterian Reformed brothers. And of course our brothers from Reformed Church in Northern Luzon, no. Pastor Edmund. God is Faithful Covenant Reformed Church. Taas pong mga kamay ng taga-God is… God is Faithful Covenant Reformed Church. Yan. Sa church nila Pastor Philip, Sovereign God Covenant Reformed Church. Meron pa po bang churches na di natin nabanggit?  Yan po. Grace Reformed Church in Tagaytay. Meron pa po ba? And, of course, but pardon me kung di natin ma-mention ang iba pero one of our speakers is from the church in Australia.

Yun ang malinaw na sinasabi ng Salita ng Panginoon. Oh! How good it is when brethren dwell together in unity. And that is exactly, that is written exactly to point to the Church. Not only brethren Israel and Israel Nation but pointing to the Church. Israel, all nations, tribes, and tongues. Yun ang malinaw na sinasabi ng Salita ng Panginoon, yung universality of the Church. Hindi po naka confine or limited sa iisang tao, ilang tao, o isang lugar lamang. Kundi sa buong mundo. Kaya may sinabi yung Panginoong Hesukristo, diba? All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me therefore go and make disciples of people from Imus only. Hindi, eh. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and surely I am with you always until the very end of the age.

Malinaw itong sinasabi ni Guido de Brès from the Scriptures na patama or refutation ng kamalian ng  Roman Church na nag-a-assert na yung Roman See as the primus inter pares or the first among equals, the one to be preferred over others. Just recently, I went to Bohol with some of our brothers and sisters in Christ to hold the church’s conference there. Isa ito sa mga diniscuss ko doon, mga kapatid, yung The Great Schism nung 1054.

Bakit ba nagkahiwalay ang Eastern tsaka Western? Dahil sa kagutuman, kauhawan, katakawan sa kapangyarihan ng Roman Church.  Bakit? Importante ito, mga kapatid. Itong parte ng Belgic Confession Article 27. Na malinaw na dine-demolish or nire-refute yung Roman church’s affirmation na yung Roman church, the church in Rome represents the whole of the one single catholic or universal Holy Church of Christ. More especially through her Pope. Hindi po tama yun.  That’s unbiblical. In fact, we must say that’s diabolical. Yun ay aral ng diablo. Para sabihin mo na ang isang church na ito, ito’y nagre-represent na ng lahat. Hindi.  But that’s what the Roman church affirms and asserts for herself. Hindi natin pwede sabihin kahit Field of Grace Reformed Church represents. Field of Grace Reformed Church alone represents the whole body of the Church. That’s blasphemy. That’s folly. And I wonder kung sabihin ko yun, any moment from now, di na ako iimbitahan dito. but why would you extend the right hand of fellowship with me. Hindi yun ang sinasabi ng bibliya. 

For the Roman church, yung Roman church is the Body of Christ with whom all Christians must unite if they are to be saved. Yun yung tinuturo ng Roman church. Pag di ka kabilang dun sa Roman church, e hindi ka ligtas. Kasi yung Roman church, the church in Rome, the Roman See, ito yung nagre-represent nung kabuoan ng Iglesia ng ating Panginoong Hesukristo. Ito yung malinaw na sinasabi ng bibliya na inuulit, nire-refute ni Guido De Brès.

The Holy Church of Christ cannot be confined to one congregation, one group, one country, or one denomination. There is no single congregation that represents the whole of this one single catholic or universal Holy Church.  In fact, we are to be united together with other like-minded believers around or in the entire world. We are to be united together in that common confession of faith in our crucified, risen, ascended, and exalted Savior Jesus Christ.

Kahit kayo’y taga-Tagaytay, kayo’y taga-Imus, kami’y taga- Caloocan, iba taga- Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, Mindanao, Bohol,  America, Australia, Europe, Africa, ano pa hinihintay ninyo? Isama na natin, Antarctica. Basta kung ito’y Iglesia na nagtuturo na tunay na nilalaman ng Salita ng Diyos, yun ay ating kapwa Iglesia kay Kristo Jesus. Ang Iglesia ng Diyos ay catholic, meaning universal, kaya kabalintunaan, mga kapatid, para sabihing Roman Catholic Church. Not only blasphemy, not only self-defeating, but also gob smacking, now if I may say.  Roman universal church. E church nga sa Rome, e. Paano mo sasabihing universal yun. Unless kung ubiquitous ang Roman church.

Ito nga ang patunay diyan, e. Paano masasabing Universal yung Roman Church? E di ba nga during the 16th century in the period of colonization, they brought the Roman church religion to the Far East. Kasi ibig sabihin, wala sila doon. Malinaw ba? So, pag sinabing universal. Paanong universal e kelan ba kayo dumating sa Pilipinas? Tsaka akala ko ba Roman? Paanong catholic? Kapag tinanong Katolika ka? Yes. Yes, we are catholic. Bakit? Not because our church is ubiquitous. But our church is not separated from the whole church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ throughout the entire world. Why? Our doctrine unites us together in heart and will. And that Doctrine is centered upon the sacrificial death and perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

 Ang tunay na Iglesia ay hindi limitado sa iisang kongregasyon lamang. Kundi, ang Tunay na Iglesia ay matatagpuan sa anumang dako sa mundo kung saan the true gospel is faithfully preached, the sacraments are administered according to the Word of God, and the discipline in the church is exercised which Pastor Lance will be discussing to us later.  And no wonder the Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 21. Huwag kayong mag-alala tapos na ako sa part one. Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 21. Anong sinasabi? What do you believe concerning the Holy Catholic Church? Question 54: : I believe that the Son of God through his Spirit and the Word, out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end, gathers, protects, and presents for himself a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith. And of this community, I am and always be a living member.

Kung ang Church ay universal, mga kapatid, hindi kailangang i-confine sa Rome. Sa NCR. Hindi doon sa mother church. Di ba? Marami tayong mga baggages sa paganism at evangelcalism nating tinanggap. Mother church namin. Hindi niyo mother church yan. Yan ang inuunang iplant. Ang tunay na mother church, yung universal Church.  Ulitin natin ha. Baka meron pa rin sa inyong nagsasabi ng ganyan. Ay hindi church plant kami. Mother church namin ito. Hindi yan ang mother church niyo. Ang mother niyo, yun yung universal Church. Yun yung local church na mas nauna lang na i-plant kaysa doon sa kung nasaang church ka. Uulitin ko ha. Wala na sigurong magsasabing ditong ang mother church namin ganito. Hindi yun mother church. Ang mother church yung universal Church.

Kaya nga mapapansin natin sa mga pinanggalingan nating samahan, di ba? Yung mother church quote unquote, yun yung mas maraming pera, at yun yung mas malaki yung building, yun yung mas nasa, medyo mas urban. Doon mas madaming handaan. Tapos, yung mga pastors doon sa mother church, siya yung preferred, primus inter pares.  No wonder itong mga hibang at mga hangal na mga batang pastor na ito, nagpapastoran, doon ako sa malaking church. Bakit? Gustong i-promote yung sarili. Gusto ata papalakpakan. Gusto ata ire-recognize agad. Mag-aral ka muna. I’m saying this not because I’m flawless but been there, done that as well. Yun ang culture na na-inculcate. Ay di, di ako pwede sa ano, yung ano ko para sa mother church. Kalokohan. Anong mother church?  Ang mother Church yung Universal Church. At kaya ka totoong… itong ZCRC Imus ay totoong local church dahil in line sya sa universal Church ng ating Panginoon. And when you go against the common confession of the faith, the doctrines of the Church, the doctrines of Christ, or the Scripture, then you’re drifting away from the path of the True Church of Christ. 

Kaya nga, mga kapatid, lalo na sa panahong ito, lalo na sa panahong ito na nauubusan na ako ng oras. Meron pa akong Belgic Confession Article 28. Mahalaga. Matatanda man o mga bata. Mga nanay, tatay, at mga anak. Maging malinaw ito sa atin. Dapat maintindihan natin kung ano ang nature ng Church. Ano yung pagkakakilanlan sa atin. Banal. Iisa. Sa lahat ng dako. Hindi puwedeng solohin ng iilan. Kasi once we lose sight of the true nature of the Church of Christ, then we will not be able to walk forward in the path or in the trap that Christ has set for us. Tandaan natin.  The nature of the Church of Christ dictates the obligations to him and to his Church of all those whom Christ has included in his covenant community. And that brings us to Belgic Confession Article 28. Kung alam nating yung nature ng Church, alam din natin yung obligasyon natin na mga nagsasabing tayo’y kabilang sa Church ng ating Panginoon.  Again. Ano ba yung title ng ating lecture ay Unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam. Sa Belgic Confession 27 on the nature of the Church of Christ, here, in our second part or more specifically part three.

The Obligation of Church Members

Our lecture proper in Belgium confession 28, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus Est. The Belgic Confession on believers under the Yoke of Christ as members of his Church. The Belgic Confession Article 28 talks about the obligations of all Christians, obligations to Christ, obligations to the Church, and our obligations before the world. Basahin natin ang Article 28. This time, hindi lamang ako ang magbabasa kundi kayo na mismo, sasabayan niyo ako sa pagbasa ng Article 28. 

Basahin natin, sama-sama.

We believe that since this holy assembly and congregation is the gathering of those who are saved and there is no salvation apart from it, no one ought to withdraw from it, content to be by himself regardless of his status or condition. But all people are obliged to join and unite with it, keeping the unity of the Church by submitting to its instruction and discipline, by bending their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ, and by serving to build up one another according to the gifts God has given to him as members of each other in the same body. And to preserve this unity more effectively, it is the duty of all believers according to God’s word to separate themselves from those who do not belong to the Church in order to join this assembly wherever God has established it even If civil authorities and royal decrees forbid, and death and physical punishment result. And so, all who withdraw from the Church or do not join it act contrary to God’s ordinance.

Yan po ang Belgic Confession Article 28. And to put a smile on the faces of our Reformers Presbyterian Brothers there. Ed and Gerard to make you smile, extra smile. Westminster Confession of Faith for our Reformed Presbyterian Brothers 25. Number two. Anong sinasabi? How it agrees with us. The visible Church which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel, not confined to one nation as before under the law consists of all those throughout the world that profess the True Religion and of their children and as the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ the house and family of God out of which there is no ordinary possibility for salvation. Yun ang meaning ng Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus Est. Outside the Church there is no salvation. Importanteng maintindihan natin ito. Yung tunay na aral ng bibliya patungkol dito. Outside the Church there is no salvation. Paano ito tinuturo dito sa Article 28?

Una, makikita natin, mga kapatid, how Belgic Confession Article 28 admonishes all Christians to affirm the necessity of joining the Church. The necessity of joining the Church. Second, the necessity, or the necessary rather, the necessary conduct of Christians as members of the Church. The third and last, the necessary duty of Christians to represent Christ before the world. Later on babanggitin natin to ulit. Puntahan natin yung una.  Ano yung unang bahagi ng sinasabi dito ni Guido De Brès? I think that’s a warning na paubos na yung ating oras.

Number one. The necessary, the necessity rather, for Christians to belong to the Church. Ano yung sinasabi. Basahin natin ulit. We believe that since this holy assembly and congregation is the gathering of those who are saved and there is no salvation apart from it, no one ought to withdraw from it, content to be by himself regardless of his status or condition but all people are obliged to join and unite with it. Wala nang paligoy-ligoy pa, mga kapatid. Church membership is not merely an option among many options for those who profess faith in Christ.

Ang church membership ay hindi optional. The Church is the mystical body of Jesus Christ. The Universal Church and the Universal Church manifests herself through the local churches. Kaya lahat ng nagsasabing sila’y mananampalataya ni Kristo, yung tunay na Kristo na kanilang sinasampalatayanan, ay obligado. Obliged or obligated to join a local congregation of like-minded believers.

Nabanggit ko na ito in many instances. Doon sa subdivision na kinalakihan ko, merong isang church doon na nakalagay doon: No law but love. No book but the Bible. No membership just fellowship.  E walang friendship kung walang tunay na membership. Yung membership in such a local church of like-minded believers, nag-e-entail ito ng a number of privileges and responsibilities.

Kaya nga, by the grace of God, and the forms na ginagamit natin sa ating church, pag tayo ay may bina-bautismuhan, o kaya may nagpo-profess ng faith, kabahagi ito sa sinasabing: I now welcome you to the full membership of the Church, its joys and sorrows, its privileges and responsibilities. Ito na, mga kapatid. Itong sinulat ni Guido De Brès. Hindi sa panahon na may mga air conditioning units yung church. O kaya may Waze. O kaya, ibang churches ay situated sa lugar na convenient. Sinulat ito ni Guido De Brès.

Nung sa panahon na if Protestant Reformed people will identify themselves publicly as Reformed, they will face death. Nevertheless, Guido de Brès did not shy away from faithfully asserting and affirming the true doctrine of the Church especially as far as the membership in a local congregation is concerned. Yung sinasabi dito ni Guido De Brès, hindi naman ito imbento niya lang. 

In fact, we can see this from Calvin, which Calvin also adopted from the Scripture and has faithfully taught by the Church fathers. Anong sabi ni John Calvin in his commentary on Isaiah? God chiefly aims at gathering us into one body that we may have in it a testimony of our adoption and may acknowledge Him to be a father and maybe nurse in the womb of the Church as our mother. And for those of you who have been reading a lot, you know where I’m heading, of course. Yung sinasabi dito ni Calvin, it’s just echoing what Cyprian actually wrote.  No one can have God as father who does not have the Church as mother.

 Hindi mo pwedeng i-claim na ang Diyos Ama ang yong Ama kung idini-despise mo yung tunay na role ng Church,  the mystical Body of Christ as your mother. Bakit? How can you be nourished in the faith apart from the Church? Through discernment blogs? Through these wannabes who don’t even want to be under the authority of a local church and yet they keep on writing stuff that they have no clue what they’re talking about. Paano kayo mapapalakas sa inyong pananampalataya? Paano kayo mapapatatag? How may you be established in the faith apart from the Church. Ito, nililinaw ni Guido De Brès bilang patama doon sa kabalintunaan ng Roman church na pagke-claim para sa kanya na yung sinasabi doon na you cannot have God as your father without the Church being your mother.

Kaya, yun ang kine-claim ng Rome para sa kaniyang sarili. The Roman Church is the mother Church. Sabi ko sa inyo, e. Wala nang bagong-bago dito. May mga nagkalat na evangelical churches, na kung may mother church, mother ganito. It’s just a rehash or adaptation of the errors of the Roman catholic church. And, no wonder, as the famous saying goes, all roads lead to Rome. Pero malinaw na sinasabi ng Salita ng Panginoon, adopted by Cyprian, adopted by Calvin, adopted by De Brès. Na hindi ibig sabihin, na yung church mismo ang nagdi-dispense ng Grace. No. Kundi, yung Iglesia ng Diyos ang itinalaga ng Panginoon para ang mga tunay na mananampalataya ay makatatanggap ng biyaya nd Diyos mula mismo sa kaniya. Sa pamamagitang ng kaniyang Salita at pamamagitan ng kaniyang Banal na Espiritu.

Kaya nga, ang totoong Church, later i-e-emphasize pa ni Pastor Lance, the true church is that place where the Gospel is preached and where the sacraments are administered according to the Word of God. And that believers or members are disciplined in righteousness. But the Church per se or the Church herself does not dispense grace. The Church per se does not dispense salvation. Naalala ko. Merong, ano yung nagsu-suot ng scapular. Hihingi ako ng permission sa ating mga organizers na I will be extending my time because I was not able to start on time.  Yung nagsusuoot ng scapural, nakalagay doon: the wearer, ang sinumang nagsusuot nito will not suffer eternal fire. Sinong nagsuot nun? Saan galing yun?  Sa Roman catholic church. Kaninong approval? Through the Pope. 

Hindi tayo naligtas through our connection with the Church. Tandaan natin, mga kapatid. Tandaan natin, ha?  We were not saved through our connection with the Church. Rather, when we were saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been united with Christ. Hence, we have been united with this mystical body. Hence, we have been joined in his Church. Kaya kailangang kilalanin natin ang antecedents and consequent. Yung antecedent ay yung pagliligtas ng Diyos. Ang consequent ay yung paglalagay niya sa atin sa Iglesia ng Diyos.

Kaya nga, ang importanteng maaalala natin, mga kapatid, kung tayo ay tunay na mananampalataya ng ating Panginoong Hesukristo,  if we are true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the natural or the supernatural outflow, if I may say, is our understanding and willingness and humility to be united in a local church. Walang sinasabi ang biblliya na puwede kang mananampalataya ni Kristo Hesus pero hindi ka kabilang sa isang church.  Hindi pupwedeng, hindi, attender lang ako. In fact, if you will visit our church, ang bungad agad namin sa inyo is: Kelan ka pwedeng mag- Inquirers’ Class? Kelan ka merong time para masimulan na matutunan mo yung mga importanteng katuruan sa bibliya para malaman mo kung bakit kailangang maging kaanib ka sa isang local church. That’s how we put premium to the membership for the Church. Bakit? Kabalintunaan para sabihin ng isang tao na siya ay manannampalataya ni Kristo ngunit siya dapat ay hiwalay sa kaniyang Katawan. Hindi pupwede, mga kapatid. Walang justification from the Bible para sa mananampalataya to withdraw himself or herself from the membership from the Church liban sa sinasabing three marks of the True Church.  Kahit persecution pa yan. Kahit famine pa yan. Kahit pa in great distress. Kahit pandemic pa yan.

Nakita natin to nitong pandemic, di ba? Kahit pwede na mag-gather, pwede na mag-mall, anong ginagawa ng marami? Yung walang legitimate na excuse ha. Pero dito muna kami sa bahay, Pastor. Online muna kami.  I’m not pertaining to those who are sick or to those who are taking care of their children who are sick.  Hindi yun ang aking punto. Pero yung… alam ko, alom niyo ang aking sinasabi. Yung mga taong ayaw na bumalik sa gathering ng local church dahil napamahal na sa kanila yung kanilang online means of grace.  Eh, kawawa naman sila. Bakit? Paano pag naputulan? Paano pag nagla-lag? Di ba? Di ba kung minsan nakakatawa pag binabalikan ko yung replyay ng aming video. Minsan naiiwan yung mukha ko na hindi nakaka-bless.  Eh kung yun ang ating stance ay anong klaseng means of grace ang ating tinatanggap?

So, mga kapatid, walang category sa New Testament ng mga taong sumampalataya sa Panginoong Hesukristo tapos, ok yan, sige enjoy kayo. No, dito lang ako.  Hindi. Ano yung mga sinasabi ng Acts 2:41-47, hindi ba? Lahat ng sumampalataya sa ating Panginoong Hesukristo binautismohan at idinagdag sa bilang ng Church. They were added to the number of the Church. Kaya nga, everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ is obligated to join a local church of like-minded believers.

Kaya hindi natin ito pwedeng isantabi. Ito yung necessity for Christians to belong to the Church. Kung ika’y tunay na mananampalataya. Eh kung sinasabing ika’y tunay na sumasampalataya kay Kristo Hesus, kausapin mo ang iyong pastor, ang iyong office bearers, that you want to publicly profess your faith in Christ that you may be accepted as communicant member in that local church. All right? Iwan na natin yan dahil meron na akong illusory or delusional na time dito, mga kapatid.

Next, meron pa. Necessary conduct of Christians as members of the Church. Ano yung sinasabi sa Belgic Confession. Keeping the unity of the Church by submitting to its instruction and discipline by bending their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ and by serving to build up one another according to the gifts of God has given them as members of each other in the same Body.

Una, obligasyon natin na panatilihin yung unity ng Church sa pamamagitan ng ano? Tayo’y magpasakop sa aral ng bibliya. Tayo’y magpasakop sa tinuturo ng Salita ng Diyos. Tayo’y magpasakop sa awtoridad ng mga itinalaga ng Panginoon na tagapangalaga sa Iglesia. Kailangan tayong magpasakop sa doktrina ng ating Ecumenical Creed, sa Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed. Isama niyo na ang Chalcedonian Creed. And, of course, as a reformed congregation, the Three Forms of Unity, and for our Reformed Presbyterian brothers, the Westminster standards. Kailangan tayong mag-submit in so far as these teachings agree or conform to the Scripture.

Pangalawa, hindi lamang doon sa teaching, mag-submit din tayo sa discipline. Anong sinasabi? And discipline by bending their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ. Tayo’y mag-submit sa discipline ng Church. Maraming mga tao excited to be welcomed as members of the Church. Excited sa privileges but they despise the responsibilities. Kaya dumadating sa point na kailangang i-remind sila sa kanilang mga responsibilities. Through what? Through the discipline of the Church. Ano bang sabi ng Hebrews 13 verse 17? Obey your leaders and submit to them for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account. Pakinggan niyong mabuti. Medyo biased ako dahil ako’y pastor.  Let them do this with joy and not with groaning. Bakit? For that would be of no advantage to you. Huwag niyong isipin na kalugian namin bilang mga office bearers yung kayo’y pasaway. Huwag niyong isipin na kami ang talo. 

Actually, it is to your loss, it is to your disadvantage that you despise the authority of the office bearers in the church. Eh bakit kailangan pa tayong magpasakop sa authority ng church at ng office bearers ng church? Saan ba ito naka pattern?  Matthew 11: 28 to 30. Anong sabi ng Panginoon? Come to me all who labor and are heavily laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Kailangan tayong mag-submit sa yoke ng ating Panginoong Hesukristo. Kasi it is to our advantage. 

Third, Ano pa yung sinasabing obligasyon natin  by serving to build up one another according to the gifts God has given them as members of each other in that same body. Bilisan ko na lamang. Kaya tayo pinagkalooban ng Panginoon hindi para sa ating sariling benefit but for the building up of the body of Christ for the greater good of the Church to enable us to serve one another. Not to serve ourselves.  Dahil sa Romans 12, Ephesians 4, First Corinthians 12, ating kailangan ay magamit natin ang mga kaloob ng Diyos para sa atin para sa ikatatatag, ikalalalgo, at ikalalakas ng Iglesia. Hindi sa ating pansariling kapakanan. Maraming mga tao, sige gusto kong maglingkod. Pero pag hindi na siya nakikinabang, ano ang kaniyang gustong gawin? Bahala na kayo diyan.

Kaya nga, lalo na sa mga kalalakihan, let me warn you solemnly. If any of you, kung meron man sa inyo  aspiring to become a pastor, to become an elder or deacon, huwag nawa sanang ng dahil sa any nefarious motive.  Kung gusto niyo lang ay maging bida, huwag na kayo sa church pumunta. Puwede naman sa Jollibee, di ba? Puwede sa mundong… mag-artista na lang kayo. Mag tiktok na lang kayo, mag-youtube. Kung gusto niyong maging bida, gusto niyo kayong palakpakan, gusto niyo kayong iappreciate nang i-appreciate, hindi sa Church. And mind you, your ulterior motives will be laid bare in the appointed time of God. ire-reveal yan ng Panginoon kung ang gusto mo lang kaya gusto mong maglingkod ay dahil sarili mo talaga ang pinaglilingkuran mo. Lalabas at lalabas yan.

Pero di lang ito sa mga aspiring office bearers but to all of us members of the Church. Kung ang motivation natin ay gusto kong gawin ito para mapansin, ma-appreciate, to heap praises of men upon our heads. Nagkakamali tayo, mga kapatid. Ang obligasyon natin, gamitin nating yung mga kaloob ng Panginoon para sa atin para tayo ay maging kasangkapan sa ikalalago ng ating kapwa-kabahagi kay Kristo Hesus. Kaya sa Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 21 Question 55. What do you understand by the communion of saints? Answer. First, that believers, all and everyone, as members of Christ have communion with him and share in all his treasures and gifts. Second, that each member should consider it a duty the use of these gifts readily and joyfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.

At isa sa mga pinaka pa lalo na pwede nating tanungin pagdating sa paglilingkod ay ito. What is it for me? Anong meron sa akin jan? Hindi. Ang tanong. Anong meron ako para mapagamit sa Panginoon. Hindi yung: Gusto mong yumaman? Gusto mong yumaman? Gusto mong yumaman? Gusto mong sumikat? Hindi. Gusto mong maglingkod? Kilalanin mo. Na kung paano pinagpala kang maging kabilang sa katawan ni Kristo, pinagpala ka na rin ng mga kaloob ng Banal na Espiritu para magamit hindi sa pangsarili mong kapakanan kundi para sa kapakanan ng Iglesia ng Panginoon. Kabutihan, katatagan, at ikalalago ng kapwa mananampalataya, kapwa-kabahagi kay Krsito Hesus. Kasama diyan ay ang gamitin natin yung oras na ibinigay sa akin kaya tatalon ako, last na ito, mga kapatid. Huwag kayong mag-alala.

Last, Kanina yung necessity for Christians to join the Church. And then, pangalawa, the necessary conduct of Christians as members of the church third and last, the necessary duty of Christians to represent Christ before the world. Susumahin ko na lang, mga kapatid.

Ang obligasyon natin ay hindi lamang within the Church but also without.  And that is to represent Christ before the world. Pero paano natin ire-represent si Christ before the world if we act, if we speak, if we think, if we move like the world? Kaya nga ito yung sinasabi ng Salita… in-e-echo mula sa Salita ng Panginoon ni Guido De Brès sa Belgic Confession 28. And to preserve this unity more effectively, it is the duty of all believers according to God’s word to separate themselves from those who do not belong to the Church. You heard it right. You heard it right. According to God’s word, to separate themselves from those who do not belong to the Church in order to join this assembly wherever God has established it even if Civil Authorities and Royal Decrees forbid and death and physical punishment result. And so, to all who withdraw from the Church or do not join it act contrary to God’s ordinance.

Alam ko po wala na akong oras, mga kapatid. But the Bible is pregnant with all these warnings against mingling ourselves with the world. Yun ang duty natin, mga kapatid.  We are to represent Christ before the world. And how are we to represent Christ before the world if we are not before the world? If we are in the world or if we are of the world? Kaya nga nakakapagtaka, mga kapatid, bakit maraming manananmpalataya daw nagsasabi o mga iglesia na takot na takot kayo anong katotohanan? Ano bang kinatatakot natin? Takot na takot na masabi yung katotohanan kesyo ma-o-offend natin itong mga ito. Takot na takot makita yung kaibahan ng Church mula sa mundo.  How are we to represent Christ before the world if there’s no difference or separation between us and the world? What can you offer to inquirers or to visitors as true comfort both in body and soul, both in life and death if you are not against the world? Tandaan natin yung context dito ni Guido De Brès. Hindi puwede yung secret believers. Hindi rin puwede yung fair weather believers. At lalong hindi pupuwede yung chameleon believers. Ano yung chameleon? Di ba hunyango o kaya turncoat. Pag kaharap mo yung mga …, “Uy, Reformed Reformed tayo Reformed.” Pag kaharap yung mga ganiyan, kesyo nakikinabang kasi.

Ano bang kinakatakot ninyo? Hindi ba kayo makakakain kung sabihin niyo yung totoo? Mawawalan kayo ng hanapbuhay? Kung tatayuan ninyo ang katotohanan? But even if that would be the case, should we be afraid? Of course, not. Anong kinatatakot natin? If we are called to represent Christ before the world then we must be so identified with Christ so much so that the world itself sees the difference between the Church and the world that they feel so succumbed to the worldliness. Kahit saan pa yan. When you say worship, ito yung ano, eh. Ito yung in sa kanila, eh. Ano bang kinakatakot ninyo? Anong kinatatakot niyo?  I’m not saying that we will be jerks or we will be insensitive. No. But what are we so afraid of? Tayuan nating yung katotohanan.

Anyways, pasensya na kayo, mga kapatid, medyo napahaba natin ng konti kasi dalawang articles yung binigay sa akin. Pero ito yung tandaan natin, no? Kung tayo’y kabilang sa Church, hindi pupuwede tayong sala sa init, sala sa lamig. Sabi nga, di ka puwedeng namamangka sa dalawang ilog. At lalong hindi naman puwedeng ikaw ay mag-withdraw from the Church, specifically membership from a local church. Kasi if you withdraw from the Church, that is to embrace the world from which Christians must separate. Don’t get me wrong. Hindi ibig sabihin nito, hindi na natin kakausapin yung mga hindi mananampalataya.

Alam ko, I know, you know what I’m talking about. Hindi yung hindi na tayo lumabas parang mga Amish o kaya hindi lang face mask kundi meron na tayong buong… hindi na tayo nanonood ng sine, hindi na tayo kumain sa ganito. May mga non-Christians diyan, e. Di ako puwede diyan. Yung sinasabi dito, huwag tayong makisama sa kamundohan. Huwag nating i-drag yung Holy Church of Christ to the sinfulness of this world. Why? Because it is our duty as Christians, as members of the Church, to represent Christ before the world. Remember the nature of the Church of Christ so that we will rekindle in our hearts our obligations to Christ, to his Church. And as we fulfill all those obligations, not just before the eyes of our fellow members in Christ but before the eyes of this very fallen sinful and dark world.

Maraming salamat po, mga kapatid. Pagpalain po tayo ng ating Panginoon.

Rev. Kirby Figueras
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