Does a True Church Exist?
Brother Richie Juatco: What does it mean to be a Christian today? Do you call yourself a Christian? Now, if you’re watching this program, perhaps you’re searching. Searching for the truth or for understanding. But saying that you’re a “Christian” today no longer seems to be enough to explain what your faith is or what you believe in. With so many different religious groups in the world, with varying beliefs and standards, it can be very confusing for someone who simply wants to follow God’s words written in the Bible. This is what we’ll be learning today on The Message.
Brother Richie Juatco: Hello, I’m Brother Richie Juatco and with me here in our studios in Anaheim is Brother Joe Velasquez. Hi, Brother Joe!
Brother Joe Velasquez: Hello, Brother Richie!
You know, every Christian-professing religious organization or church claims to follow the Bible. So the obvious question is: Why the differences? Why are there so many options? Logically, they cannot all be different or totally independent from each other; sometimes with opposite beliefs. And at the same time each of them claim they are the one true Church that is mentioned in the Bible.
Brother Richie: We also realize that, today, when almost everyone has a platform to share their personal ideas, people are skeptical of who to trust and listen to as an authority in this matter. We know people want true religion but are suspicious of which preacher to listen to.
Brother Joe: So if someone believes in the Bible, accepts the unusual events happening as signs of the nearing end, and is hoping to be among those promised to be saved on Judgment Day, well, how can one determine which church is the true one? And is there only one Church?
Is there only one true Church?
Brother Richie: Let’s turn to what’s written in the Bible and listen to what God teaches through the apostles. The apostles were not only in the true Church, but Christ appointed them to administer it. So, if they were alive today, we would simply join the Church that they were a part of. The dilemma is: all the churches today are claiming to be the church the apostles were a part of. But we are going to find out in II Corinthians 10:12, according to Apostle Paul, what is the insight that he gives us regarding the true Church? This is what we can read. He says this:
Of course we would not dare classify ourselves or compare ourselves with those who rate themselves so highly. How stupid they are! They make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and they judge themselves by their own standards!
[II Corinthians 10:12 Good News Bible]
Brother Richie: Apostle Paul makes a distinction between those in the true Church and those outside. He said, “we would not dare classify ourselves… with those who rate themselves so highly.” Who are those he is mentioning as rating themselves so highly? He clarifies, “They make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and they judge themselves by their own standards!”
Brother Joe: Oh, so, no wonder they rate themselves so highly. They are making up their own standard!
Brother Richie: Exactly! They come up with their own way to prove which church is the true Church and then, surprisingly, they come out to be the true church. They come up with their own way to prove who is a preacher from God and then, shockingly, they end up being the preacher from God.
Brother Joe: But, Brother Richie, how does the Bible describe people like that?
Brother Richie: According to what we’ve read, it says, “How stupid they are!”
Brother Joe: So, if people shouldn’t come up with a rating system or standard to determine the preacher from God in the true Church, well, then whose standards should be used?
Brother Richie: Well, let’s continue to learn what the Bible teaches. Earlier we read verse 12. We’re going to stay in the same book and chapter, but we’re going to read from verse 18 and it says this:
So let’s be clear. To have the Lord’s approval and commendation is of greater value than bragging about oneself.
[II Corinthians 10:18 The Passion Translation]
Brother Richie: So the standard that should be used is none other than the Lord God’s standard.
Brother Joe: But why is that?
Brother Richie: Well, according to what we’ve read, it says, “To have the Lord’s approval and commendation.” That’s what one has to have.
Brother Joe: But, Brother Richie, what is the Lord’s approval and commendation? And how does one acquire that?
Brother Richie: So let’s get the answer, again, from what is written. But now we’ll read what is in Hebrews chapter 5:4. It says, here:
And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was
[Hebrews 5:4 New King James Version]
Brother Richie: We can read that the Lord’s approval is a great honor and it’s no wonder that many want to have this honor of teaching God’s words or preaching the biblical truth. But what is it that we should notice? It states, “no man takes this honor to himself.”
Brother Joe: Well, then, Brother Richie, how do those that have this honor acquire it then?
Brother Richie: Well, the Bible states, “he who is called by God,” therefore, it is only God Himself that selects and calls those to honor based on His standard. So if one is not called by God for this purpose, he does not have the honor of teaching inside the true Church and it’s not approved by God.
What about people that say they study the Bible on their own?
Brother Richie: Now, there might be some watching this thinking, well, there are people in different churches who have dedicated their whole life to studying and learning biblical scripture. Now that is true, but how does the Bible describe those who are not called to teach God’s words yet they want to have that honor and they strive to achieve it on their own? How does the Bible describe them, Brother Joe?
Brother Joe: Well, we can read regarding their situation, here, in II Timothy 3:7:
always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
[II Timothy 3:7 New King James Version]
Brother Joe: So, the Bible acknowledges people who are “always learning” and have even achieved, by their own standards, prestigious degrees.
Brother Richie: Now, who did they get those degrees from and what were the qualifications?
Brother Joe: Well, people come up with qualifications and then award themselves and each other with degrees and ratings. There are people, for example, with doctorates in divinity or theology and even some who memorized the Bible. But the Bible states that they are “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Brother Richie: Brother Joe, what are some of the basic Bible teachings that people, on their own, they’re not able to come to the knowledge of?
Brother Joe: Well, Brother Richie, for example, when it comes to who is the true God according to the Bible, we have shared many times in our programs how Christ Himself made it clear that the Father in Heaven is the one and only true God (like what is written in John 17:1 and 3).
And another biblical truth that many self-proclaimed preachers have not come to the knowledge of is how to attain salvation.
And we hear numerous people preach:
Just believe all you need is faith.
Join any church; they’re all the same anyway.
Or God loves unconditionally and is not that particular on how you live.
Dear viewers, none of these are teachings that are written in the Bible.
Brother Richie: So for those that are watching, it’s very important to understand, since there are people who insist on teaching biblical scripture although they are not sent by God and they themselves they’re not able to come to the knowledge of the truth, then, Brother Joe, what kind of teachings are they spreading over other?
Brother Joe: Actually, we can turn to the answer here in II Timothy 4:3- 4. And this is what is stated:
The time will come when people won’t put up with true teaching. Instead, they will try to satisfy their own desires. They will gather a large number of teachers around them. The teachers will say what the people want to hear. The people will turn their ears away from the truth. They will turn to stories that aren’t true.
[2 Timothy 4:3-4 New International Reader’s Version]
Brother Joe: So the teachings being spread by people have tried to take the honor of preaching unto themselves are not true teachings. And because they do not know the truth, what will they resort to? Well, the Bible says, “The teachers will say what the people want to hear.”
Brother Richie: Brother Joe, what’s so bad about teaching people what they want to hear?
Brother Joe: Well, the problem is that just as what we read, “people won’t put up with true teaching… [they] will turn their ears away from the truth.”
Brother Richie: Well, if they don’t want to hear the truth, what do they want?
Brother Joe: Well, the Bible clarifies, Brother Richie, that, “They will turn to stories…” And we can see how this is happening in many different types of worship services in various churches. The preacher might read a verse or two, but the majority of the time is simply telling stories. And what’s even worse is that the Bible says that people turn to “…stories that aren’t true.”
Brother Richie: So because of this, some might wonder, what are people supposed to do if they are genuine in seeking the truth or the actual message of God’s words?
Brother Joe: Well, let us turn here for the answer, to Malachi 2:7. And this is what the Bible says:
It is the duty of priests 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.
[Malachi 2:7 Good News Bible]
Brother Joe: So people who are truly searching for the truth have a responsibility. What is the instruction? Well, the Bible states, “People should go to them…”
Brother Richie: Brother Joe, who are the “them” that’s being referred to that people should go to?
Brother Joe: Well, Brother Richie, the verse clarifies “the messengers of the LORD Almighty.”
Brother Richie: Well, what do the actual messengers of God do for people?
Brother Joe: So, the Bible says that “they teach the true knowledge of God.” And what would also be the result of listening to God’s messenger? Well, we will “learn [God’s] will.” Therefore, the only way to really learn the true knowledge of God and His will is to be taught by His messenger.
Brother Richie: This is important, friends, for us to remember. Remember, that being a messenger of God is not something a person can just claim for himself, but instead, He must be called by God. God calls through His words. God’s words are written in the Bible. So, God’s words will specify who His Messenger is. This is vital for us to understand because it’s so easy for anyone to just claim that they are called by God. What is not easy to do is to point out God’s words written in the Bible that testifies to one’s commissioning as a true or genuine messenger of God, or specifically mentioning God calling you to be His Messenger.
Brother Joe: Well, now that we know that true messengers are called by God, our next question is: what would be the value of learning from the true messenger?
Brother Richie: Well, Brother Joe, we will read the teachings of a true messenger, the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. We’ll read from what He says, here, in Luke 10:16. He says:
The person who listens to you, as my messenger, listens to me. The person who refuses to listen to you refuses to listen to me—and to the one who sent me.”
[Luke 10:16 The Casual English Bible]
Brother Richie: Here, the Lord Jesus Christ shows the importance and value of a true messenger. He said, “The person who listens to you… listens to me… and to the one who sent me.” So, according to our Lord Jesus Christ, listening to His Messenger is equivalent to listening to Him, and so the only One Who has the power to send Him, which is God Himself.
What is the true Church according to the Bible?
Brother Joe: So, Brother Richie, regarding the first question that started off our discussion: How can one determine which is a true Church according to the Bible? The true Church has the Messenger. If a church does not have the Messenger, well, then that is not the true church. That church is not of Christ. That church is not of God.
Brother Richie: This is why, friends, one of the first questions a person should ask a church when seeking the truth is: Who do you believe and regard as the messenger in this church? Now we understand many churches will laugh in confusion to that question.
They might even respond by saying, “What are you talking about? Who is the messenger?” They will say, “We’re a Christian church. We follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.” Sure. But the real question is: Who are you listening to in order to receive Christ’s teachings and the teachings of God? Whoever that is must have the biblical scripture specifically mentioning God calling him to be a Messenger of the true Church.
Brother Joe: So some might be saying, “Why is there a need for the church to have a messenger? Doesn’t it already have Christ? Didn’t Christ Himself already build and establish His Church?” Others are even asking, “Shouldn’t His true teachings just continue to flourish in His Church?”
Brother Richie: You know, Brother Joe, those are very good questions. So to understand the need of a messenger, in order to listen to Christ’s teachings, we turn to what our Lord Jesus Christ Himself explains. We’re going to read what He teaches in John 10:16, and he says this:
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.
[John 10:16 Easy-to-Read Version]
Brother Richie: Here, the Lord Jesus Christ mentions that He has “other sheep.” Why did He call them “other sheep”? Because He says that “They are not in this flock here.” So there were sheep, or followers of Christ–Christians, with Him at that time, but the other sheep (that he is referring to), they were not among them.
Brother Joe: So, Brother Richie, where are those “other sheep”?
Brother Richie: Well, according to what He said, they said that, he said that they are “in the future.” Now, this is something that we have to take notice of. If our Lord Jesus Christ already had His flock of sheep or His established Church in the first century, and then He’s mentioning that He has other sheep in the future, then something obviously happened to His flock or His Church.
Brother Joe: Well, what eventually happened to Christ’s flock or His Church, which is why a messenger is needed?
Brother Richie: Well, Brother Joe, let’s read what the apostles forewarned would happen to the flock of Christ. As we can read, here, in Acts 20:29-30. It says:
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
[Acts 20: 29-30 New King James Version]
Brother Richie: According to the Bible, the flock of Christ or His Church, it was not spared. There was a time when the members of the Church that our Lord Jesus Christ established, they were drawn away by wrong teachings. According to what we’ve read, they were drawn away by people speaking perverse things and those that wanted to stay, we know that they were killed. That’s the reason why it was not spared. It completely apostatized or ceased to exist.
Now we understand the need for a messenger. Now, if we would recall, what would Christ do for His other sheep in the future? He said, “I must leave them also.” Now, how will Christ lead them by means of the messenger? He said, “They will listen to my voice.” Now will Christ’s other sheep in the future be in multiple flocks or multiple churches? Well, our Lord Jesus Christ made clear; “In the future there will be one flock.”
Brother Joe: But, Brother Richie, what is the one flock of Christ or the Church called?
Brother Richie: Brother Joe, we read earlier, Acts 20:29. We can read what the apostles called the flock of Christ or His Church. We’ll read, here, in verse 28. It says,
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]
Brother Richie: The name of Christ’s one flock is the Church Of Christ. The true messenger sent by God will teach people to join the Church Of Christ. Therefore, any preacher teaching [that] you don’t need the Church, or you can join any church, or you should join a church, but it’s not the Church Of Christ? That is not the true messenger sent by God.
Brother Joe: So, Brother Richie, the two main points we learned from the Bible in our discussion today to determine which is a true Church is that: the true biblical Church that is Christ’s flock is named Church Of Christ and the true Church Of Christ was taught by God and by Christ, by means of the Messenger prophesied in biblical scripture.
Brother Richie: Dear friends, we pose these questions for you to analyze: Does this Church recognize a messenger of God in fulfillment of biblical prophecies? The answer is we certainly do in the person named Felix Y. Manalo. Might this Church be the true biblical Church Of Christ the Bible is teaching of? We would love, more than anything, to prove this by means of sharing with you the biblical teachings of God we learned from Brother Felix Manalo.
For the sake of our viewers, Brother Joe, why is it that we here inside the Church Of Christ, we put so much effort in spreading the truth actually written in the Bible?
Brother Joe: Well, let’s find out the answer here, Brother Richie, in the Bible. In I Timothy 2:3-4, and this is what is recorded here:
This is good and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth.
[1 Timothy 2:3-4 Good News Bible]
Brother Joe: So, sharing the truth is not only our personal desire. What is the truth that we read here in the Holy Bible? That “This is good and it pleases God our Savior”. And what does God want for everyone? Well, the truth is that He “wants everyone to be saved…” So why is He requiring people to go to His messenger? What is the condition for a person to be saved? According to the Bible, everyone must come to know the truth.
Brother Richie: On behalf of all of us here at The Message, we would like to thank you for joining us today. In our study of God’s message, we hope that you will continue to watch this and other programs of the Iglesia Ni Cristo or Church Of Christ. But before you go, please join us for a short prayer.
Our Heavenly Father, we thank You so much for the guidance that we were able to hear at this time. We know that Your words written in the Bible really is the truth that we need in our life, and we praise You for Your mercy and Your love to all of us that have heard. We now know, Dear God, how You bring Your truth to Your people. According to You, it is through the messenger that You will send.
We thank You, and we ask that You bless all those that are listening to this program. There are many people that are looking for You. They are looking for the truth. They are looking for the true Church. We ask You, Dear God, please have mercy. Allow them to be able to feel Your compassion and Your love through Your teachings, that, Dear God, they will have an opportunity to hear and answer Your sacred call inside the true Church.
We ask that You bless us all, help us with all the things that are happening today, help us to have the humility to always follow Your teachings, knowing that You always know what is the best, that You will be the One to guide us and protect Your faithful servants.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, Dear Lord, we also approach You, and we thank You for teaching us the truth regarding Your Church, regarding Your other sheep in the future. We are asking You, Dear Lord, please continue to bring us close to God. Allow us all to be under the care of His guidance and protection, and please, dear Lord, allow all of us to prepare ourselves, all always obedient to the truth written in the Bible, ready for the day our Father will send You again to come and save us.
Our God, we are so grateful for the Church Administration. We ask that You always watch over them that you are using to lead us and help us all, that we will continue to receive Your guidance and Your holy teachings.
This is what we ask and pray for through the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
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