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Mankind's last hope for salvation
Verses that prove that Christ is NOT God

Mankind's last hope for salvation

Published by the Iglesia ni Cristo

Copyright 2001

Editorial Office: Iglesia ni Cristo Central Office

No. 1 Central Avenue, New Era

Quezon City, Philippines 1107

The Last Hope For Mankind

 

 

"...And earth's foundation will shake. The earth itself will stagger like a drunk, sway like a hut in a storm. The world is weighed down by its sins; it will collapse and never rise again."  

Isaiah 24:18, 20, TEV

 

DESPITE MAN'S PROGRESS in science and technology, countless people in our time still suffer from many severe problems and anxieties in life.

Almost half of the 6.1 billion people in this world live in poverty. Countless people are jobless and if others are employed, their earnings are not enough for them to make both ends meet. Among the over 800 million who suffer from hunger, 24,000 are estimated to die everyday.*

Although the poor or the under-privileged are almost always the ones who fall victims to violence, calamities, sickness, and injustice, a substantial number of high-income earners are now also affected.

Also prevalent in the world are the various armed conflicts occurring almost simultaneously in different place. In 1998 alone, 36 armed conflicts in 31 countries were recorded. In the year that followed, no less than 100,000 people died as a result. About 50 million people in the entire world lost their homes and have been displaced because of these armed struggles.

In addition, various calamities such as typhoons, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and volcanic eruptions continue to wreak havoc, not to mention epidemic that also continues to claim numerous lives.

Furthermore, various problems confront the family. Strained relationship between the husband and the wife, infidelity, vices, and excessive way of living are among the destructive forces that threaten society's basic unit.

Hence, peace has been elusive and injustice prevails, for evil and wicked works lurk around us. Indeed, man's present situation is sad and pathetic.

But mankind's situation is not completely hopeless. Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, pronounced a promise that is the solution to man's anxieties and troubles in this world. Christ's promise is the last hope for mankind.

1. Question: What is Christ's promise that is the last hope for mankind?

Answer: Christ exhorted those who have faith in Him that they should not worry because He promised that He would prepare a place for them in His Father's heavenly abode:

"Don't be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house. I wouldn't tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together." (Jn. 14:1-3, Contemporary English Version)

2. Q. Which is this place being prepared by our Lord Jesus Christ and what kind of life will man enjoy in that place?

A: The Holy City with a new heaven and a new earth. The kind of life reserved for those who are fortunate to reach that place will be totally different from life here on earth. In that place, there will be no more pain, sorrow, hardship, and even death, unlike what is being experienced now:

"And 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 God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." (Rev. 21:1-2, 4, New King James Version)

3. Q. Who can hope to dwell in the heavenly abode promised by our Lord Jesus Christ?

A: The Lord Jesus Christ gave His promise to those who have faith in God and in Him. Hence, faith is very important. Man should have faith in God and in Christ:

"Don't be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me." (Jn. 14:1, CEV)

But there are people who understand "faith" based on their own opinion or interpretation. Their assumptions about faith are dangerous because such are misleading. Hence, people should base their faith on the teachings of the Bible.

4. Q. Are all those who profess faith in Christ true believers?

A. No. There are those who claim that they have faith, but they do not prove it by works or deeds. Their kind of faith is false or not genuine because such cannot save:

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?" (Jm. 2:14, New International Version)

5. Q. How do the Apostles describe those people who claim to have faith but do not prove it by works?

A. They are merely holding on to the outward form of religion. The Apostles forewarned that such people would emerge in these last days. We should keep away from them:

"They will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people." (II Tim. 3:5 Today's English Version)

6. Q. Are there preachers of religion today who teach that works are no longer needed because faith alone is enough for salvation?

A. The Protestant preachers uphold the belief that faith alone is enough and works are no longer necessary.

This is also being upheld by the Charismatic movements or groups that have emerged during our time not only from the ranks of the Protestants but also from the Catholic Church.

7. Q. What biblical teaching is contradicted by the Protestant belief that man is justified by faith without works?

A. The biblical teaching that faith is being perfected by works:

"Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?" (Js. 2:22 NKJV)

8. Q. What else is the proof that faith without works is not true faith and this kind of faith cannot justify man?

A. The Apostles clearly taught that man is justified by works and not by faith alone:

"You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." (Js. 2:24, ibid.) This does not mean that we should belittle or discount the importance of faith. While the Bible says that we cannot be justified by faith alone, it also teaches that true faith is necessary and is important.

9. Q. How did our Lord Jesus Christ prove the importance of true faith?

  1. Christ said that unless man believes in Him, man will die for his own sins:

"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (Jn. 8:24, Ibid.)

The commonly accepted understanding is that faith is mere profession of belief in Christ as Lord and personal Savior. Based on this belief, once a man has declared that he accepts Christ as his Savior, he is already saved from punishment and can dwell with the Father in the Holy City on the appointed time. Is this understanding correct?

10. Q. According to our Lord Jesus Christ, what sets apart a true believer from the false one?

  1. In John 8:24, our Lord Jesus Christ emphasized the importance of believing in Him. In John 8:31, (with only six intervening verses) He clarified what this means:

"Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed'." (Ibid.)

In this verse, Christ was speaking to those who already had faith in Him. According to our Lord Jesus, they should prove their faith in Him not in words only. He was seeking for something more from them. He told the Jews who believed in Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed."

Therefore, the true believers who are also Christ's true disciples abide in His words.

11. Q. What does Christ mean by "if you abide in my words"?

  1. Another rendition of the verse states, "If you obey my teaching":

"So Jesus said to those who believed in him, 'If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples'." (Jn. 8:31, TEV)

Hence, true faith is proven by obedience to the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the kind of faith that everyone should possess. Let us ask ourselves: Do we truly believe in Christ? Or, are we among those who recognize Christ by merely calling Him "Lord"?

12. Q. What does Christ say to those who profess faith in Him and call Him "Lord" but refuse to do what He says?

  1. He reprimands those who call Him "Lord" but refuse to do what He commands. Christ is not pleased with us just because we call Him "Lord." To truly recognize Him as our Lord is to follow what He says:

"But why do you call Me 'Lord, lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Lk. 6:46 NKJV)

Others may say, "We do not merely profess faith in Christ; we perform miracles and wonders in His name."

13. Q. Does the ability to perform miracles and other works of wonders prove that one belongs to Christ and will attain salvation?

  1. On the Day of Judgment, there will be those who will claim that they have cast out demons and have worked various miracles and wonders in the name of Christ with the hope that these wonderful works will enable them to enter the kingdom of heaven. But Christ will not accept them; instead, He will disown them. Christ will tell them, "You have never been mine".

"At the Judgment many will tell me, 'Lord, Lord, we told others about you and used your name to cast out demons and to do many other great miracles'.

"But I will reply, 'You have never been mine. Go away, for your deeds are evil'." (Mt. 7:22-23, The Living Bible)

Pitiful are those who greatly expect that Christ will recognize and save them but will only fail in their hope come Judgment Day. Christ does not want to recognize them, for they do not belong to Him.

14. Q. Who are those whom Christ recognizes as His own and whom He promised eternal life in the heavenly abode, which He is preparing?

  1. Christ recognizes as His own those who have heard His voice and followed Him:

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." (Jn. 10:27-28, NKJV)

15. Q What did Christ say that they have heard and followed?

  1. Christ said that He is the door and whoever enters into the fold through Him will be saved.

"I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe..." (Jn. 10:9, Revised English Bible)

16. Which is referred to as the fold or flock?

  1. The fold or flock is the Church of Christ, which Christ purchased with His blood:

"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)

Hence, the true believers in our Lord Jesus Christ are those who follow His words and enter into the fold or the Church of Christ.

17. Q. How did the Apostles show the importance of the Church of Christ?

  1. The Church is the body of Christ and He is its Savior. It is for the Church that Christ offered His life:

"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.

"Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. (Eph. 5:23, 25, TEV)

By denying the truth that the Church is essential to receiving salvation, many religious preachers today are saying, in effect, that Christ offered His life to something that is unimportant. Thus, to believe that the true Church is unnecessary for man's attainment of salvation is to disrespect and insult Christ.

18. Q. What fortune does Christ guarantee the members of the Church that He established?

  1. Even death will not overcome the Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ:

"And so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it." (Mt. 16:18 Ibid.)

19. Q. What does Christ mean that not even death will overcome the Church that He established? Does He mean that the members of the Church of Christ will no longer experience the physical death?

  1. On the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, those who died in Christ will be resurrected first and those in Him who will be found alive will no longer taste death as they will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air:

"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." (I Thess. 4:16-17, NKJV)

Hence, the ultimate solution to death, which many people in this world fear most, can be found in the Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Those who have faith in Christ should follow the way to salvation that He and His Apostles taught: proper membership in the true Church of Christ.

20. Q. Why is proper membership in the true Church the way to salvation? How relevant is the Church to man's attainment of salvation?

  1. God's master plan of salvation through Jesus Christ is intended for the Church:

"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, TLB)

21. Q. How else did the Apostles prove the relevance of the Church to man's attainment of God's promise?

  1. The Gentiles also became heirs of God's promises when they became members of the Church:

"And this is the secret: that the Gentiles will have their full share with the Jews in all the riches inherited by God's sons; both are invited to belong to his church, and all of God's promises of mighty blessings through Christ apply to them both when they accept the Good News about Christ and what he has done for them." (Eph. 3:6, Ibid.)

The Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ is truly needed and is important for man to attain salvation. But at present, there are so many churches that claim to be the true Church of Christ. Hence, it is important that we search for the true Church of Christ today.

22. Q. How can we identify which one is the true Church of Christ today?

A. The true Church of Christ has the testimony of God, is recognized by Christ, and also has the testimony of the Apostle.

23. Q. Whom does God testify as His chosen people in these last days?

  1. Those whom God has called as His sons and daughters from the far east as prophesied by Isaiah:

"From the far east will I bring your offspring, and from the far west I will gather you,..." (Is. 43:5,) James Moffatt Translation)

24. Q. Why are we certain that what Isaiah prophesied in this verse refers to neither ancient Israel nor the first-century Church of Christ?

A. Because what Isaiah prophesied here would come from the far east, whereas ancient Israel and even the Church of Christ in the first century did not emerge from the far east but in what is now called Middle East.

Furthermore, in the following verse, the sons and daughters of God whom Isaiah prophesied would emerge at the time the Bible designates as the ends of the earth:

"I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not keep them back!' Bring My sons from afar, And my daughters from the ends of the earth." (Is. 43:6, NKJV)

25. Q. Do even Bible scholars prove that the prophecy written in Isaiah 43:5-6 refers to the people in these last days?

  1. According to J.A. Motyer, the author of the Prophecy of Isaiah (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1993), God's pronouncement in the prophecy written in Isaiah 43:5-6 reveals the relationship of God's people in these last days to those about whom Isaiah was speaking (p. 332). Motyer states:

"... he draws the curtain further back to expose a world-wide regathering. I will bring your children... I will gather you indicates the continuity of the people of the eschatological day with those to whom Isaiah spoke. My sons, my daughters indicates the continuing relationship with the Lord, grounded in redemption (Ex. 4:21)."

Hence, the ones prophesied by Isaiah are the people of God, whom He recognizes as His sons and daughters. They would come from the far east at a time distant from the Israelites and even from the Church of Christ in the first century.

26. Q. According to the Apostles, who are among those promised with the gift of the Holy Spirit but are far from their time and place of origin?

  1. Apostle Peter said to the Jews who became members of the Church of Christ: that the promise is unto them, their children, and "to all those in distant times and places" whom God will call:

"For it was to you that the gift was promised, to you and your children, and to all those in distant times and places whom the Lord our God calls to him." (Acts 2:39, Rieu Translation)

We can learn from this verse that in the Christian era, there are three groups of people who have been promised with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The first group, to whom Apostle Peter was speaking, was the Jews who became members of the Church. The second group was the Gentile members of the Church who were borne out of the Jews' preaching of the Gospel:

"Even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?" (Rom. 9:24, NIV)

27. Q. What is the name of the Church to which the Jews and the Gentiles belonged during the time of the Apostles?

  1. The Jews and the Gentiles whom God called during the time of the Apostles became members of the Church of Christ:

"The churches of Christ in Judea didn't know me personally." (Gal. 1:22, Christian Community Bible)

"They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.

"Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings." (Rom.16:4,16, NIV)

According to the testimony of Apostle Peter, there would be other people whom God would call and promise to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. These people were not called during the time of the apostles because they would be called in distant times and places.

28. Q. Aside from the Jews and the Gentiles who became members of the Church of Christ in the first century, is there another group of people who would also be included in the fold or the Church of Christ but not during the time of the Apostles?

  1. There are other sheep of Christ who have been called, but they were not called during the time of the Apostles. According to the pronouncement of our Lord Jesus Christ, He would also bring them and, in the future, there would be one flock or Church of Christ.

"I have other sheep too. They are not in this flock here. I must lead them also. They will listen to my voice. In the future there will be one flock and one shepherd." (Jn. 10:16 Easy-to-Read Version)

These sheep of Christ would also be included in the flock or Church of Christ. They are not in the flock that was in existence then during the time of Christ, but, in a future time, they would be called to become one flock.

Therefore, the ones referred to in the prophecy of Isaiah whom God testifies as His sons and daughters in these last days who would emerge from the far east are also the ones whom the Apostles testify as partakers of the gift of the Holy Spirit. They would be called from distant times and places and were also referred to by Christ as His other sheep. The fulfillment of Christ's other sheep is the Church of Christ in these last days, which emerged in the Philippines (a country in the Far East) on July 27, 1914 (during the time the Bible calls the "ends of the earth" or the last days).

The Apostles foretold that the third group of people who have been promised with the gift of the Holy Spirit would be called in distant times and places. The biblical phrase "distant times" refers to "ends of earth" or the "end times" - the last days. The far east where the Church of Christ emerged fulfills one of the "distant places" in the prophecy.

29. Q. What other distant place is alluded to in the prophecy concerning the sons and daughters of God in these last days?

  1. The far west, where the sons and daughters of God will be gathered as prophesied by Prophet Isaiah:

"From the far east I will bring your offspring, and from the far west I will gather you,..." (Is. 43:5 Moffatt)

This prophecy was fulfilled when the mission of the Church of Christ, which began in the far east (the Philippines) in 1914, reached the far west (in the United States of America) in 1968, and from there the Church has spread continuously in different countries of the world.

30. Q. Do Bible commentaries also prove that the expression "ends of the earth" not only refers to place but also to time?

  1. The commentary of Matthew Henry for Job 28:24, wherein the expression "ends of the earth" was used, reads:

"...for he looks to the ends of the earth, both in place and time; distant ages, distant regions, are under his view." (Matthew Henry's Commentary Vol. III, p. 152)

Therefore, the biblical expression "ends of the earth" can also refer to time. This is the time when the end of the world is near or what is also called as the last days. The expression "ends of the earth" was used in Isaiah 43:5-6 to indicate the time of emergence of the sons and daughters of God from the far east. Thus, the prophecy in Isaiah 43:5-6 refers to the Church of Christ in these last days, which began in the Philippines in 1914.

31. Q. What is God's promise to the Church of Christ in these last days?

  1. Salvation is fast approaching for those who have been fortunately included in this Church, which is the work of God:

"Indeed the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world: 'Say to the daughter of Zion, "Surely your salvation is coming; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him'."

"And they shall call them The Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken." (Is. 62:11-12, NKJV)

32. Q. What else is the promise of God to this work of salvation?

  1. When the chosen people of God are in the midst of trials and tribulations and call upon His name, He will answer them:

"I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The Lord is my God'." (Zech. 13:9 Ibid.)

33. Q. What qualities do those whom God has called in these last days possess, which is why they are certain to receive the promise of Christ to His servants?

  1. They are the ones who patiently obey the commandments of God and uphold the faith of Jesus:

"Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

"Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, 'Write: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."' 'Yes', says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them'." (Rev. 14:12-13 Ibid.)

Indeed, there is still hope for mankind in this world that is filled with sorrows and difficulties. For man to be included among the fortunate ones whom Christ will take with Him to His heavenly abode, he must seek the true Church of Christ and then join it.

But this does not mean that membership in the true Church of Christ is enough for man to attain salvation. It is also necessary that all who have become members of the Church of Christ today are faithful in obeying the commandments of God and in keeping the faith of Jesus.

Thus, the Church of Christ that emerged in the Philippines in 1914 has the testimony of God, is recognized by Christ, and is attested to by the Apostles. This Church did not emerge because of the power of mere human will, but by virtue of God's prophecies written in the Bible, which clearly prove that this Church is God's last work of salvation.

 

The Iglesia ni Cristo: An Introduction

ON JULY 27, 1914, concurrent with the outbreak of the First World War, a distinctive Christian Church emerged from the Philippines, an archipelago in the Far East. This Church, which emphasizes the Bible as the sole basis of faith, is the Iglesia ni Cristo or the Church of Christ.

The Iglesia ni Cristo firmly believes in the one true God, the Father who created all things. To serve and worship Him is the primary obligation of man. It acknowledges Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as Lord and Savior, who established the Church in accordance with the will of God for salvation. Christ gave His life for the Church, Christ was able to redeem the sins of its members without breaking the law of God that each person should die for his own sins.

Within a short period of 87 years, the Iglesia ni Cristo has accomplished numerous achievements, which are truly remarkable for a church that originates from a developing country and exists without the aid, financial or otherwise, of any government or religious agency anywhere in the world. From its early beginnings at Punta, Santa Ana in Manila, where it was first preached by the late Brother Felix Y. Manalo, the Iglesia ni Cristo has indeed gone a long way as it now counts millions of members not only in the Philippines but also in different parts of the world.

In 1968, the Iglesia ni Cristo achieved a milestone when Bro. Eraņo G. Manalo, its present Executive Minister, spearheaded the establishment of the locales in Hawaii and California in the United States of America. Since then, the Iglesia ni Cristo has spanned the different parts of the world. As of this time, 600 locales and congregations have been established, composed of people from 182 races and from 75 countries and territories outside the Philippines.

As the growth in its membership steadily increases, so does the construction program of the Iglesia ni Cristo continue to intensify. Over the years, the Iglesia ni Cristo has constructed numerous houses of worship and other edifices, the biggest of which is the Central Temple in Quezon City, which stands in a total land area of 1.6 hectares and can seat about 7,000 worshipers. This magnificent structure is an integral part of the over 40-hectare church complex where other remarkable edifices like the Central Office, Tabernacle, Pavilion, INC Museum and Gallery, New Era University, College of Evangelical Ministry, New Era General Hospital, among others, are also built.

The Iglesia ni Cristo is also actively involved in socio-civic works. Thousands have benefited from the livelihood projects that it has initiated in different places. The Iglesia ni Cristo has also successfully embarked on housing and community development projects intended for Church volunteers in different regions of the Philippines. Many victims of calamities and disasters, as well as the bereaved and the less fortunate, have likewise been aided and relieved through the outreach program called Lingap sa Mamamayan. In addition, the Church maintains its support to government campaigns on literacy, family planning, health, environment, and other related endeavors.

Above other concerns, however, it is the welfare of man's soul or his salvation on the Day of Judgment, that the Iglesia ni Cristo primarily offers to all. By incessantly proclaiming God's message of salvation to everyone, the Church continues to uphold a truly noble purpose - for all people to attain the wondrous love of God and the firm hope of His eternal promises.