Helping Those In Need

The second most important commandment

HOW FAR would you go to help a friend, a neighbor, or even someone you don’t know who is in dire need of assistance? Undoubtedly, varied are the ways to show one’s concern for the poor, the marginalized, and those struggling in life. As members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ), it is our Christian duty to demonstrate our love and compassion to someone in need for God to abide in us (I John 3:17).

 

Loving our fellowmen

The Bible, in no uncertain terms, makes clear that the most important commandment is to love God with all one’s heart, strength and soul (Mark 12:28-30). For this reason, we joined the Church Of Christ because we truly believe that it is only in this Church where we can render proper reverence, service, and worship of God. In having done so we will receive salvation on Judgment Day.

Moreover, to ensure our salvation, our Lord Jesus Christ taught the second most important commandment that we should fulfill:

“The second most important commandment says: ‘Love others as much as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is more important than these. The man replied, ‘Teacher, you are certainly right to say there is only one God. It is also true that we must love God with all our heart, mind, and strength, and that we must love others as much as we love ourselves. These commandments are more important than all the sacrifices and offerings that we could possibly make.” When Jesus saw that the man had given a sensible answer, he told him, ‘You are not far from God’s kingdom.’ After this, no one dared ask Jesus any more questions.” (Mark 12:31-34 Contemporary English Version)

Hence, according to Christ, loving our fellowmen is the second most important commandment. As Christ’s servants, such genuine and altruistic love must be manifested in our lives—it is something we should not avoid doing.

 

Manifestations of love for humanity

We can show such love for our fellowmen, especially the needy and impoverished, by doing humanitarian work. This is the reason the present Church Administration encourages us to be mindful of the plight of many less fortunate people who need help, sharing or giving material resources as much as we can or extending varied expressions of charity. This in accordance with Christ’s teaching as elucidated in His parable about the Good Samaritan, thus:

“A teacher of the Law came up and tried to trap Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to receive eternal life?’ Jesus answered him, ‘What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?’ The man answered, “Love the Lord our God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind”; and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.’ ‘You are right,’ Jesus replied; ‘do this and you will live.’ But the teacher of the Law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor? Jesus answered ‘There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also came there, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn where he took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. “Take care of him,” he told the innkeeper, “and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him”.’ And Jesus concluded, ‘In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbor toward the man attacked by the robbers?’ The teacher of the Law answered, ‘The one who was kind to him.’ Jesus replied, ‘You go, then, and do the same’.” (Luke 10:25-37 Good News Bible)

The Church Of Christ today remains unwavering in its commitment to our destitute and disadvantaged fellowmen, in fulfilment of Christ’s mandate. This was recently highlighted by its walk-for-a-cause campaign, the Worldwide Walk to Fight Poverty. It aimed to raise awareness of the miserable condition of millions of our fellowmen gripped by abject poverty and to help them alleviate their sorrow and suffering. This and other charitable acts and projects initiated by the Church worldwide are made more significant in the light of unusual catastrophes, disasters, and tragedies that continue to occur on a daily basis. Indeed, there is no end in sight to extraordinary occurrences affecting many people today that call for each off us to prove our concern and compassion for others for the good of humanity.

 

Biblical precedents

God’s early servants fulfilled His commandment to love and help their fellowmen. Job helped the poor, the orphans, and the widows (Job 29:12-13). Apostle Paul showed his charitable act by bringing “contributions of charity and offerings” (Acts 24:17 Amplified Bible). In addition, a disciple of Christ named Tabitha was “rich in acts of kindness and charity which she continually did” (Acts 9:36 AMP2015).

Presently, the Church Of Christ, under the leadership of its Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, continues to extend its help across the globe to the poor and needy, members and nonmembers alike, through acts of benevolence and generosity especially to the victims of disasters and calamities.

 

The blessings

Those who help the needy and are concerned about the poor—not withholding their love for fellowmen especially when they have the means to do so—are not on the losing end because God lays I store His blessings for them:

“ … You must never have bad thoughts about a person that needs help. You must not refuse to help him. If you don’t help that poor person, then he will complain to the Lord against you. And the Lord will find you guilty of sin. Give the poor person all that you can. Don’t feel bad about giving to him. Why? Because the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you do.” (Deut. 15:9-10 Easy-to-Read Version)

“Happy are those who are concerned for the poor; the LORD will help them when they are in trouble. The LORD will protect them and preserve their lives; he will make them happy in the land; he will not abandon the to the power of their enemies. The LORD will help them when they are sick and will restore them to health.” (Ps. 41:1-3 GNB)

Above all, eternal life will be received by God’s servants who obey His commandment taught by Christ to care for the needs of others, especially the poor. The Bible made this very clear:

“Once a man came to Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask me concerning what is good?’ answered Jesus. ‘There is only One who is good. Keep the commandments if you want to enter life.’ ‘What commandments?’ he asked. Jesus answered, ‘Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely; respect your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ ‘I have obeyed all these commandments,’ the young man replied. ‘What else do I need to do?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me’.” (Matt 19:16-21 GNB)

by ROLAND A. AGUIRRE

Let God direct our lives

“‘My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’.”   
(Isaiah 55:8-9, New Living Translation)

IT SEEMS IRONIC that the world’s lone superpower has 40 million of its citizens living in poverty. Forty million—that’s more than the population of Canada, and more than 1½ times that of the Australian continent.

“The United States [of America],” wrote Philip Alston of the United Nations, “is one of the world’s richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries. But neither wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million [Americans] continue to live in poverty” (The Guardian Online, December 15, 2017).  

Arif Husain, chief economist of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), revealed for the first time in a decade, the number of people suffering hunger is back on rise (Hurriyet Daily News Online, December 17, 2017). He disclosed that the number of people who “go to bed hungry each night has risen from 777 million to 815 million today.”

What’s going on?

Although man has made great strides in food production and technology, hundreds of millions today are still suffering from chronic malnutrition. Around 22,000 children die daily due to starvation (UNICEF). And despite huge scientific breakthroughs in health and medicine, millions still die from various diseases and plagues.

It is quite obvious that despite man’s persistent efforts to improve his life and living conditions, his lot does not seem to get any better. Why?

 

Mortals cannot run their own lives

It is within man’s power to take charge of his life and put it in order? Can he chart his own course and steer his life toward a good end? The Bible answers:

“I know, God, that mere mortals can’t run their lives, That men and women don’t have what it takes to take charge of life.” (Jer. 10:23 The Message)

Man, on his own, is incapable of running his own life. The Bible further illustrates his inability to take charge of his life by pointing out how completely oblivious he is of what lies before him:

“A person never knows what will happen to him next. He is like a fish caught in a net—the fish does not know what will happen. In the same way a person is trapped by the bad things that suddenly happen to him.” (Eccles. 9:12 Easy-to-Read Version)

Try to recall some of the recent disasters in history—the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed close to a quarter million people, the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017—and ask yourself: If the people who perished in those tragedies knew in advance they would happen, would have they gone to those places? Man, undeniably, is totally clueless on what the future brings.

 

Knowledge increases sorrow

What if man acquires immense wisdom—will it solve all his problems and ensure his good fortune? King Solomon, a man of notable achievements, regrettably says no:

“I spoke with my heart, saying, ‘Behold, I have acquired great [human] wisdom and experience, more than all who were over all Jerusalem before me; and my mind had observed a wealth of [moral] wisdom and [scientific] knowledge.’ And I set my mind to know [practical] wisdom and to discern [the character of] madness and folly [in which men seem to find satisfaction]; I realized that this too is a futile grasping and chasing after the wind. For in much [human] wisdom there is a much displeasure and  exasperation; increasing knowledge increases sorrow.” (Eccles. 1:16-18 Amplified Bible 2015)

IF earthly wisdom were the cure-all to man’s woes, as others may believe, then life would have been trouble-free for those who have acquired it Sadly, that is not the case. For even people of notable educational achievements are not spared from life’s pains and sorrows.

 

The One Who can assure man’s good

It behooves us, then to know: Who alone can bring what is good for man? The Creator Himself declares:

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hoe’.” (Jer. 29:11 New Living Translation)

Only the all-powerful God can bring man a future filled with hope. The Lord Almighty alone knows what is best for an and only He can direct man’s steps toward his ultimate good.

Sadly, there are those who think that they do not need God to show them the way; that they—on their own, using their own knowledge and faculties00can make their aspirations come true. Should man even think that his wisdom is on a par with God’s? Are human thoughts the same as that of the Almighty? The Lord answers:

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’.” (Isa. 55:8-0 NLT)

A drop in a vast ocean—that’s how infinitesimal and inferior man’s thoughts are compared to God’s. Thus, it is futile and unwise for man’s thoughts are compared to God’s. Thus, it is futile and unwise for man to trust in his own power and wisdom in bringing about the good future he hopes for.

 

Placing our trust in God

In whom, then, should man place his trust? The Bible says:

“Trust the LORD and live right! The land will be yours, and you will be safe. Do what the LORD wants, and he will give you your heart’s desire. Let the LORD lead you and trust him to help. Then it will be as clear as the noonday sun that you were right.” (Ps. 37:3-6 Contemporary English Version)

Man, clearly, is not the master of his own destiny. Instead of directing his own course,, he must commend himself and his future to the hands of his Creator, Who—as stated in a preceding verse—knows the good plans He has for man.

 

God’s master plan

What is one of God’s plans for man that would bring about his good and the future he hopes for? Apostle Paul says,

“May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the church through Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 3:21 Living Bible)

More than his well-being here on earth, it is man’s ultimate good—his salvation on Judgment Day—that God earnestly desires for him. In fact, the ever-compassionate God wants all man to be saved by coming to know the truth (I Tim.2:3-4). And God’s master plan for man’s salvation is intended for the Church through the Lord Jesus Christ.

How can man avail himself of the great opportunity to receive salvation which God plans for the Church through Christ? The Lord Jesus, the appointed Savior, says:

“So Jesus spoke again: ‘In very truth I tell you, I am the door of the sheepfold … I am the door of the sheepfold … I am the door, anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe’.” (John 10:7,9 Revised English Bible)

The fold or flock which Christ commands people to enter in order to receive salvation is the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). It is His Church which Christ promised to save and which the second death will not overcome (Eph. 5:23-25; Matt. 16:18 Today’s English Version; Rev. 20:14)).

 

Headed toward destruction

With this world rapidly spiraling toward its end, man should realize that all his toils and strivings to make his life on earth better are futile. God has appointed a day when this earth and everything in it will be destroyed by fire (II Pet. 3:7, 10). The only way he can attain his ultimate good—salvation on Judgment Day and attainment of life everlasting in the Holy City—is by allowing God to direct his life and be included in His master plan of salvation, that is, by becoming a member of the Church Of Christ.


By DENNIS C. LOVENDINO

Based on the lesson taught by Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo during his pastoral visit to Niugan, Laguna, RP on January 6, 2018

‘They went into the synagogue on Sabbath day’

 

Tony Balatayo of San Diego, CA, USA asks the Editor of God’s Message magazine:

“PLEASE ADVISE ME with regard to the verses Luke 6:6; Mark 6:1-2; Acts 13:13-14, 16:13; 17:2; 18:4 in which it is taught that Jesus and the apostles ‘went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.’ Furthermore, Christ pronounced in Mark 2:27-28, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’ 

“Whose Sabbath is this that Christ Jesus and the apostles were observing? Had Christ made His own Sabbath?”

 

Editor’s reply:

The Sabbath being referred to in the verses you quoted is none other than that which God commanded to the ancient Israelites as a sign of His covenant with them (Exod. 31:16, Deut. 5:1-3, 12-14; Mal. 4:4). They were to observe the Sabbath to commemorate their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, hence it was exclusive to the Israelites as it was they who became slaves in Egypt (Deut. 5:15, Today’s English Version). Observance of the Sabbath includes strict prohibition on doing one’s work on the ‘seventh day’ that even kindling of fire (Exod. 35:3) and cooking (Exod. 16:23) were forbidden, let alone plowing and harvesting (Exod. 34:21).

The biblical verses you listed in your letter do not teach that Christ and the apostles observed this Sabbath, or an Sabbath for that matter. Though these do state that Christ and the apostles went into the synagogue on Sabbaths, the verses themselves clarify their purpose in going there—”to teach” (Mark 6:2; Luke 6:6), “to speak” (Acts 13:14-16; 16:13), to preach (Acts 13:42), and to reason with people (Acts 17:2; 18:4). During the Sabbath the Jews in Christ’s time would gather in the synagogue, hence Christ and the apostles made use of such opportune times to preach the gospel to many people.

The biblical accounts of Jesus’ healing the sick on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:11-13; Luke 13:10-17) and His disciples working on that day (Luke 16:1-5) all the more show that the observance of the Sabbath was not their practice. In fact, Christ was even accused by Sabbath observers of being “not from God” for not obeying the Sabbath law (John 9:16).

The incident in which Jesus declared ‘the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath … the Son of Man is also “Lord of the Sabbath” even more underscores His consistency in not keeping the Sabbath law. Jesus then was defending His disciples who plucked the heads of grain in the fields on the Sabbath: “Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, ‘Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’ But He said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?’ And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath’ (Mark 2:23-28, New King James Version).

Christ’s being “the Lord of the Sabbath”, only means that He is above it and not bound by it, as He Himself demonstrated in His actions. But, by not observing the Sabbath, did Christ and His apostles violate any of Gods laws? No, for it was God Himself who had put an end to the observance of the Sabbath (Lam. 2:6; Hos. 2:11, TEV).

Proving that such a law is no longer in effect in the Christian Era, the apostle Paul teaches us this concerning the Sabbath: “Let no one criticize you in food or drink, or in matters concerning festivals, new moons, or the Sabbath. … These doctrines may seem to be profound because they speak of religious observance and humility and of disregarding the body. In fact, they are useless in overcoming selfishness” (Col. 2:16, 23 Christian Community Bible).

 

The Value of the Church Built by Christ

“WHY DO YOU VALUE THE CHURCH so much?” I noticed that even though life is very hard nowadays, with many losing their jobs and homes and others suffering from terrible natural disasters like earthquakes, your members just keep on giving so much importance to the Church and their membership in it. You have problems, but you still do not let go of the Church! How come you do that? How can you do that in these trying times? Why is the Church that important to you?” These are some of the observations and comments that people have made about the members of the Church of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo). They have seen how much we love and value our Church membership. They see us as attending congregational worship services, sharing our faith with others, and supporting various Church activities, even though we also deal with our own share of difficulties or hardships in life It is obvious to them that the Church is so important in the lives of its members. Why? Is it a new thing?

Who values the Church Of Christ

The members give so much importance to the Church Of Christ because hey recognize the Church not simply as an ordinary organization or institution but rather as the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul said: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church … He is the head of he body, the church” (Co. 1:24, 18, New King James Version).

In these verses, we can see how Apostle Paul showed how much he valued the Church. He endured sufferings in his life for the sake of the Church, and he did so with rejoicing, not complaining. Man members of the Church then and now have also done the same.

Of course, Apostle Paul was not the only servant of God who valued the Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself does, too! In fact, He is the best example of the one who loved the Church so much and made unparalleled sacrifices for it Not only did He establish His Church, but He also gave up His own life for it. Not only did He establish His church but He also gave up His own life for it: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and have Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25, Ibid.).

“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation)

Besides his, he Holy Bible shows us further how important the Church really is by introducing the Church as being given the kingdom of God here upon the earth. This is what our Lord Jesus Christ said o the flock or the Church: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32, NKJV).

So, the Holy Scriptures show us that the Church Of Christ is indeed valuable. It is important, for it is the body of Jesus Christ, it is that which was redeemed with His precious blood, and it is that to which God’s kingdom has been given. If God’s people in the past had high regard for the Church and valued it so much, then, why shouldn’t we?

The Importance of the Church Of Christ

Another thing that we need to understand with regard to the importance of the Church Of Christ is the promise that Christ made to the Church. He said that not even the power of death would ever be able to overcome His Church: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on his rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18, Revised Standard Version).

It is clear that the founder of the Church is Christ, and that the promise of the founder is that not even death will be able to prevail against it. The death that will not overcome us is the death that is the full payment of sin, which is the second death in the lake of fire (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:14). It is from that death that members of the Church of Christ are spared or saved come Judgment Day.

 

How the Church won’t be overcome

The promise of Christ concerning salvation should not be taken to mean that once a person has joined His Church, he will never stop breathing and that he will no longer be buried in the cold earth. What Christ is showing is that there is resurrection of life. Look at what He said in John 5:28-29. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (NKJV).

There are two kinds of resurrection: One that is to life and he other that is to condemnation. Those who are included in the first resurrection of the dead are the fortunate ones who will be raised from the dead at the return of Christ and meet Him in the air Those who are still alive will no longer taste the first death, for they shall be caught up together with the ones resurrected first. We can read his in I Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (Ibid).

But where will we end up? In the Holy City where we will have a life that is glorious. Look at how Apostle John wrote about it in Revelation 21:1-4: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Ibid.).

Notice that in the Holy City, there will be no more death. The ones who can hope for his are those who have become members of the Church of Christ. So considering that the Church Of Christ will not be overcome by death, is it any wonder that we, members, hive such great value to the Church?

Why enter the Church Of Christ

Others may be wondering why they should be members of the Church Of Christ when they are already members of other religions. They may say, “To each his own. If you want to be members of the Church Of Christ, fine. But it is also fine if we will not, and just stay in whatever church we are in.” We should not be thinking that way, because Jesus Christ clearly issued this command to those who want salvation: “I am the door, anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe … But there are other sheep of mine, not belonging to this fold; I must lead them as well, and they too will listen to my voice. There will then be one flock, one shepherd (John 10:9, 16, Revised English Bible)

Christ is clearly saying that those who come into the fold through Him will be safe or saved. The fold or flock should come into is the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation).

Therefore, even though we, Church members, have our own share of problems and difficulties in this world, we have decided to never let go of our membership, or leave the church We are ready to brave whatever troubles come our way and cling tightly to our membership, because we believed in the value or importance of the Church Of Christ is. Christ built it. He loves it. He gave His life for it. And when He returns, which is very soon, He will save this Church: “For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body” (Eph. 5:23, Today’s English Version).

So, since the Church Of Christ is truly important, does it not make sense that we give value to it by joining it and doing everything to remain in it?

On calling Him ‘Jehovah’

 

Marcel Craig, of Brooklyn, New York, asked this question:   

“THOUGH I CONSIDER myself as having a religion, I must admit that I have little knowledge about God and the Bible. … One of my friends once told me that whoever shall worship Jehovah, call on the name of Jehovah, and be called by the name Jehovah, as in Jehovah’s Witnesses, will be saved. This makes me uncomfortable for I’m not used to calling God by that name in my prayers. So, I want to ask your stand on addressing God by the name Jehovah. And how does the Church of Christ address our Lord God?”

 

Richard J. Rodas, Editor-in-Chief of God’s Message Magazine replies:

“Thank you for asking us on matters concerning God and how to address Him.

      The Jehovah’s Witnesses, as a religious group, is indeed known for strictly using the name “Jehovah” in addressing Go. Some of its zealous members, in trying to promote their faith, even go as far as claiming that one will not be saved unless he calls God by that name. Such serious assertion indeed calls for profound critical investigation as regards the use of “Jehovah” in reference to God.

      What do Bible scholars and historians of religion say about the use of the name “Jehovah”? As to age, the Rotherham Emphasized Bible reports, “The pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520, when it was introduced by Galatinus; but was contested by Le Mercier, J. Drusius, and L. Capellus, as against grammatical and historical propriety … which is merely a combination of the sacred Tetragrammaton and the vowels in the Hebrew word for Lord” (Ibid., pp. 24-25). The Harper’s Bible Dictionary corroborates by stating, “The hybrid word ‘Jehovah’ is a combination of the vowels of ‘Adonai’ with the consonants of the Tetragrammaton; its appearance in the JKV was the result of the translators’ ignorance of the Hebrew language and customs” (p. 1036, emphasis ours.) Hence, as The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge aptly concludes, “JEHOVAH” is “an erroneous form of the divine name of the covenant God of Israel which appears first about 1520 A.D.” (Vol. VI, p. 16, emphasis ours). Explanation on the occurrence of the erroneous form of God’s name in the Bible is stated in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology:

      “The form Jehovah arose out of a misunderstanding which in turn arose out of the reluctance of pious Jews to pronounce the divine name (c. 300 b.c.). Instead they uttered the word ,adōnāy my Lord. In the MT [Masoretic Text] the divine name was written with the consonants of YHWH and the vowels of

,adōnāy, as a reminder to say the latter whenever the word was read. The divine name appears as yehōwâh in the MT. The LXX [Septuagint] reflects the Jewish reluctance to pronounce the divine name and puts the word kyrios à Lord, in its place. The RSV and other Eng. versions also reflect the practice by giving the word LORD in capital letters whenever the name YHWH stands in the text. The Lat. Likewise gives the word Dominus, Lord, for YHWH. The form Jehovah is thus a malformation giving what is virtually a transliteration of a word which is found in the text of the Heb. OT, but which was never actually used as a word.” (Vol. II, pp. 69-70, emphasis ours)

      Finally, the late Distinguished Service Professor of Talmud and Rector of  the Rabbinical School in Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Saul Lieberman, Ph.D., identified openly how the rendition ‘Jehovah’ came to be. Writing for Microsoft Encarta, he expounded:

      “Jehovah, name of the God of the Hebrew people as erroneously transliterated from the Masoretic Hebrew text. The word consists of the consonants JHVH or JHWH, with the vowels of a separate word, Adonai (Lord). What its original vowels were is a matter of speculation, for because of an interpretation of such texts as Exodus 20:7 and Leviticus 24:11, the name came to be regarded as too sacred for expression; the scribes, in reading aloud, substituted “Lord” and therefore wrote the vowel markings for “Lord” into the consonantal framework JHVH as a reminder to future readers aloud. The translators of the Hebrew, not realizing what the scribes had done, read the word as it was written down, taking the scribal vowel markings as intrinsic to the name of their God rather than as a mere reminder not to speak it. From this came the rendition Jehovah …” (“Jehovah.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [CD])

      These, among others, clearly prove that the supposed name of God which ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ allege as His only true name, is an erroneous form of the divine name of the Creator. To insist on using this term in reference to God, to say the least, is to propagate an error.

      Church of Christ members reverently address the Almighty God as ‘Father’ and ‘Lord’. For doing this, we simply abide by the example set by the early Christians and Jesus Christ Himself:

      “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” (Matt. 6:9, New King James Version)

      “So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: ‘Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them’.” (Acts 4:24, Ibid.)


Source: God’s Message Magazine, January 2012

About the love of money

By ERVIN M. ALMEDINA

IS THE BELIEF that money is the root of evil all true? Isn’t money essential? Don’t we use it to obtain our basic needs, to take care of our family, and also to help other people in need? “So how an it be the root of all evil?,” one may argue.

What does the Bible say regarding this? Apostle Paul declared: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Tim. 6:10, New King James Version, emphasis ours).

The “root of all kinds of evil then is not money per se but the “love of money”. People, especially in these last days, will become lovers of money. The Bible foretold through the same apostle that” … people will love only themselves and their money …” (II Tim. 3:2, Living Bible).

Our Lord Jesus Crist warned against being too occupied with gaining material riches, saying, thus:

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36, NKJV). Indeed, the Bible clarifies, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath” for neither their silver nor their gold can save man in “the day of the LORD’S wrath” or Judgment Day (Pro. 11:4; Zeph. 1:18; II Pet 3:7, 10 Ibid.).

That is why our Lord Jesus Christ gave this warning: “… Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because a person’s true life is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be” (Luke 12:15, Today’s English Version).

One’s love or excessive desire for money is shown in the manner by which he obtains and uses money or material wealth. It is people’s love of money that has made the present times perilous, for others will lie, cheat, bribe, slander, and even kill just to get it. That is why Apostle Paul said: “…in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will love only themselves and their money …” (II Tim. 3:1-2, LB). He also said, “Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (I Tim 6:17, Ibid.).

For true Christians, money is primarily used for a higher purpose—in giving glory to God. Apostle Paul teaches: “Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven—it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well” (I Tim. 6:18-19, Ibid.)

The Knowledge That All Must Seek

THERE IS NO WAY to overemphasize the importance of knowledge in our lives. Knowledge is power, so the saying goes, which is why many people aspire for it. And throughout history, it is the  unrelenting pursuit of knowledge that has brought progress to man. A great portion of knowledge an wisdom has been transmitted in various institutions of learning. Some have been discovered through efforts and experimentation of persistent people. Although much of the knowledge discovered and acquired by man has contributed greatly to his welfare and progress, not all kinds of knowledge are beneficial to man. There are some that result in the destruction of lives and properties.

On the other hand, there is this kind of knowledge that is far more important and beneficial than any worldly knowledge. This is what we should seek and aspire for However, this knowledge cannot be learned in school and one’s intelligence is not a guarantee to enable him to know and understand it. Apostle Paul enlightens us:

“And how from your childhood you have had a knowledge of and been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to instruct you and give you the understanding for salvation which comes through faith in Jesus Christ [that is, through the learning of the entire human personality on God in Christ Jesus in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness]. Every scripture is God-breathed–Given by His inspiration–and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience,  and for training in righteousness [that is, in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action].” (II Tim. 3:15-16, Amplified Bible)

Knowledge of the sacred writings or the Holy Scriptures can give us the understanding for salvation which comes through faith in Christ Jesus. This makes such knowledge different and unique from any worldly knowledge man has and can acquire. Although the knowledge that is learned and acquired from educational institutions may bring progress and make life easier for man, this cannot lead him to the salvation of his soul. But this does not mean that anybody can gain right knowledge and understanding of what the Bible teaches concerning God and salvation. The Bible is not like any ordinary book that can be easily understood by anyone who knows how to read. Apostle Paul teaches in I Corinthians 2:6-7:

“However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, or the rulers of this age, who care coming to nothing. But we speak of the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages of our glory.” (New King James Version)

Right understanding of God’s wisdom cannot be gained by just reading the Bible for this is hidden in mystery as has been ordained by God.

Unraveling the mystery
Although God’s wisdom and knowledge contained in the Holy Scripture is hidden in mystery, this can be unraveled and understood for the welfare of man’s soul. For us to understand and benefit from this, the Apostle Paul gives us this guide in I Corinthians 2:11-12:

“For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” (Ibid.)

Apostle Paul has made it clear that no one knows the things of God except His Spirit. Thus, only those who have received the Spirit of God can understand and explain His wisdom and knowledge which He has hidden in mystery. Only they can unravel and reveal to us the mystery of our Lord God for our own benefit. And indeed, there are people who have been given and have received the Spirit of God and, thus, have understood and are able to explain the words of God, although it is hidden in mystery. Foremost among them is our Lord Jesus Christ:

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to  heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  (Luke 4:18, Ibid.)

Our Lord Jesus Christ was sent by God. He received the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit, hence, He was able to understand and preach the Gospel, which He is during His ministry here on earth. Thus, the messenger of God, inasmuch as He has the Spirit of God, can understand and preach the Gospel. He is the one who can explain the mystery of God’s knowledge and wisdom. No wonder the inspired preaching of our Lord Jesus Christ elicited awe and amazement from the people, particularly the Jews. John 7:15-16 narrates the following:

“The Jews were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’ Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me’.” (New International Version)

The Lord Jesus did not learn or get His knowledge of God’s words from the learning institutions of this world. So although He did not undergo formal education from any school, He was able to preach and explain God’s words by virtue of His commissioning. The same could be said of the other messengers of God, for instance the apostles. Inasmuch as they learned from our Lord Jesus Christ and they, too, received the Holy Spirit from God (John 20:21-22), their preaching also elicited like response and reactions from those who heard him preach. Recorded in the book of Acts is this:

“They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved’. When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:7-13, NIV)

Not based on man’s understanding
Knowledge of God’s words that gives one understanding for salvation is not based upon man’s own wisdom as proven in the aforementioned cases. It is not gained through persistent studies and having doctoral degrees from theological schools. As Apostle Paul state, “Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 3:7, NKJV).

One’s educational attainment, however high it is, does not guarantee that a person can already understand God’s teachings and can preach the pure gospel. “And how shall they preach unless they are  sent?” Apostle Paul asks rhetorically (Rom. 10:15, Ibid.).Therefore, one needs to be a messenger o f God to be able to preach His words. This does not mean, however, that no one among the messengers of God was schooled or educated. This is proven by Apostle Paul, no doubt a messenger of God, when he said of himself in Acts 22:3: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today” (New American Standard Bible).

Apostle Paul was educated and learned, having had formal education but he did not preach based on human wisdom. He did not use his worldly education as basis of his authority to preach and in converting people to Christ. In Galatians 1:11-12, he said:

“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

Apostle Paul testified that the gospel he preached was not according to man but he received it from God through the revelation of Jesus Christ. His authority to preach was given to him by our Lord God. And being one of the true messengers of God, he was able to preach and explain His words that would lead man to salvation. Thus, for man to gain knowledge and understanding concerning God and to receive salvation from whom should he seek such knowledge? In the book of Malachi 2:7, the Bible teaches this:

“It is the duty of priests [Jewish Priesthood] to teach the true knowledge of God. People should go to them to learn my will, because they are the messengers of the LORD Almighty.” (Today’s English Version)

If man wants to gain true knowledge about God and to learn His will that he must follow in order for him to attain salvation, he must seek such knowledge from the messenger of our Lord God. Listening to the preaching of God’s messenger is very important, for it is from the messenger that one can gain the true and right knowledge concerning God. Such knowledge, if he accepts and believes, can assure him of eternal life.

The knowledge to eternal life
What then is the true knowledge concerning God taught by His messengers that will lead man to eternal life or salvation? Cited earlier was Malachi 2:7 and verse 10 of that same chapter says the following:

“Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?” (Mal. 2:10, NIV)

The Prophet Malachi, one of God’s messengers, taught clearly that the Father is the one God who created us. This is the true knowledge concerning God taught since the time of His early messengers, a teaching that has endured up to the time of the Christian Era as testified to by Apostle Paul, another messenger of God: “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (I Cor. 8:6, Ibid.).

And why did Apostle Paul say that “for us,” referring to the Christians, to whom he wrote this epistle, “there is but one God, the Father?” Because for others, this is not the knowledge that they have known about God: “But not everyone knows this” (I Cor. 8:7, Ibid.), Apostle Paul said further. That’s why there are those who teach that, aside from the Father, who is the true God, there is also God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But this teaching is unbiblical. The Bible, the book that contains God’s revealed knowledge and wisdom, teaches clearly that the Father alone is the true God. This is the knowledge concerning God taught by His messengers and learned by the true Christians. This is also the same knowledge about God that the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest of God’s messengers, taught:

“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, an said: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, … And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’.” (John 17:1,3, NKJV)

In teaching that the Father alone is the true God, Christ did not teach that He Himself and the Holy Spirit are Gods. And how important is it to possess such knowledge about God? Christ emphasized that this is the knowledge that will lead to eternal life. This is the knowledge that all people must seek and know, which only the genuine messengers of God have been able to teach throughout history.


By RUBEN D. AROMIN
Source: God’s Message Magazine